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Just Who Is the Inquisitor in Dragon Age: Inquisition? - Fri, 21 Nov 2014 13:30:00 Z
Customizing a character in a role-playing game can sometimes be a process that lasts almost as long as the campaign itself. Hey, we get it – it’s a tough choice. But with the just-released Dragon Age: Inquisition, the choice becomes a lot harder. You’re not just picking hair color; you’re choosing what defines you as a person.

Dragon Age: Inquisition, you play as the Inquisitor, AKA the Herald of Andraste. And who you are depends both on the choices you made in previous Dragon Age games (or the really cool interactive backstory map at Dragon Age Keep), as well as your race and class.

So what kinds of options await you in
Dragon Age: Inquisition? Your Inquisitor can be a variety of races and classes, each with their own unique backgrounds and motivations.

Let’s take a look at some of the options for who you might be, and why each character archetype ends up at the Chantry during the game’s explosive and violent beginning.

Your Inquisitor might be a human rogue. She grew up in nobility, a child of the Trevelyan house. Your family mostly consists of priests and templars – though, considering you’re a rogue, your opinions on such matters are... complicated. Still, your family sent you to the Chantry, and you got to see firsthand how poorly templars and mages get along.

Or perhaps you’re a dwarf, which means you’re
definitely not going to be a mage (in fact, Dragon Age: Inquisition doesn’t even let you pick that, because it’s straight up non-canonical). That’s fine; a warrior is better suited for you anyway, especially as a cast-off “surface” dwarf, forced to scrape by as a criminal in Carta. You end up as part of a crime family, and your journey brings you to the Chantry on a spy mission that changes your life.

If your inclinations lead you to an elven archer Inquisitor, your life is one of hardship. Elves are still second-class citizens, little more than slaves in many parts of the land. But not you! You’ve rejected that life, growing up in the wilderness and honing your hunting skills. As a nomad, you keep clear of most humans and live a life of solitude, until your clan’s Keeper sends you to the Chantry on a mission that will impact all elves.

The Qunari are a new playable race to
Dragon Age: Inquisition, though you’ll find their tales equally as trying. Choosing a mage sees you as an outsider of the Qunari – one who rejects the religious philosophies of your people. You’ve earned your place as a powerful mage among a mercenary group, and the only reason you’re at the Chantry is because you and your group have been your group has been hired as peacekeepers, which does not go well for said group.

These are just some of the backstories, motivations, and personality traits that the Inquisitor can possess. It’s up to you to decide who your Inquisitor is – and more importantly, it’s up to you to decide what your Inquisitor does
after the events at the Chantry, when your real story truly begins.

Pick up
Dragon Age: Inquisition on Xbox One and Xbox 360 today, and start experiencing your Inquisitor’s story

Race Drivers Set Guinness World Record in “Forza Race for the Record” Challenge - Fri, 21 Nov 2014 10:00:00 Z
Lap records aren’t exactly a new occurrence for Forza Motorsport 5 players but, on November 7, a group of Forza fans in Shanghai, China set a record of a different type: the kind that will be found in the Guinness Book of World Records, to be exact. The Microsoft Online Store “Forza Race for the Record” featured 22 two-driver teams who competed in a series of races in Forza Motorsport 5 to set a new record. This event, sponsored by Microsoft Online Store, was the first large-scale fan event in China since the recent launch of Xbox One in the country.

During the event, the 22 teams were challenged to race through three tracks from
Forza Motorsport 5: Yas Marina, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and Le Mans. The winners of the “Forza Race for the Record” were then revealed during the Top Gear China premiere in Shanghai on November 12 in front of an audience of more than 1,000 fans, media and celebrities. Proving real-life race experience can apply to the virtual world, the winners of the record were professional race drivers Ho-Pin Tung and David Cheng (both of whom raced in the real-life 24 Hours of Le Mans race in 2014) with a total time of 3 hours, 4 minutes and 38 seconds.  

Check out some of the highlights from the event below:

Professional racers Ho-Pin Tung (L) and David Cheng (R) put their skills to the test in
Forza Motorsport 5

Guinness World Records adjudicator Lisa Hoffman monitors the competition

The excited crowd just before kick-off

Professional race car drivers Ho-Pin Tung and David Cheng with The Stig from Top Gear, and two other participants, prepare for the Microsoft Online Store ‘Forza Race for the Record’ Guinness World Records challenge

General Manager of Xbox China Enwei Xie and Guinness World Records adjudicator Lisa Hoffman announce the winners of the record at the Top Gear China premiere event in Shanghai

Play Sunset Overdrive Free for 24 Hours on Xbox One - Fri, 21 Nov 2014 08:00:00 Z
The first anniversary of the Xbox One’s release is upon us, and we can’t think of a better way to end Year One than by bringing on the Awesomepocalypse for our fans. 

Starting this Saturday, November 22, at 12:01 a.m. ET, Xbox Live Gold members on Xbox One will get to play
Sunset Overdrive for free for 24 hours. The whole game is here: you’ll be able to earn achievements and save whatever progress you make before 12:01 p.m. ET on Sunday, November 23. If you decide to purchase the game at a later point, you will be able to start again right where you left off. To get some pointers before you head into Sunset City, take a look at the tip- and trick-filled video above.

Sunset Overdrive
is a game that's very much built around speed. Interestingly, the game’s traversal system – which sits at the very core of the experience – wasn’t part of Sunset Overdrive’s initial design document. Grinding wasn’t a big part of it, and the pace was a bit more casual. But when one of the designers threw some telephone wires into one of the levels he was working on, and asked if he could enable the player to grind on them, a switch flipped.

“For a lot of things on this project, [we] were like, ‘That doesn’t sound right,’ but put it in and we’ll see,” says Lead Designer Cameron Christian. While it was never one of the studio’s defining texts, Sega’s classic, future-forward rollerblading game
Jet Set Radio (and its sequel Jet Grind Radio) looks like it was an influence. Christian says that he loves the cult Sega hit, and brought aspects of it into Sunset Overdrive.

“Velocity was where it was at,” says Christian. “It was, ‘How do we make things really fast in this game?’” To achieve a sense of speed, the designers at Insomniac Games built the entirety of
Sunset Overdrive's city setting around the game’s core mechanic. They’d already gotten partway through this building process – but after the switch to this kind of constantly, intensely forward-moving traversal, they needed to rebuild and rethink the city to play nicely with the concept.

They integrated more organic shapes, fewer hard right angles, and a level of interconnectedness between traversable objects, which would allow players to hop from one to the next without losing speed or momentum. Play the game, and you’ll see for yourself: You’re almost constantly grinding along rails and cables, blasting along walls, and bouncing off of everything from cars to canopies as you make your way through the Technicolor rainbow that is
Sunset Overdrive’s Sunset City.

For the game to get here, many avenues were explored – but not all were triumphant. At one point, the game world was littered with oil slicks and discarded mattresses; these were employed to allow players to slide and bounce off of them, respectively. Somewhat unsurprisingly, a game world covered in oil slicks and mattresses looked weird, and the slipperiness made the game tougher to control. Ultimately, Insomniac landed somewhere between the traversal systems of the
Tony Hawk and Prince of Persia series, being careful to avoid overly automating the experience for the player. Or, as Christian puts it, “We wanted the player to look at where they want to go, and then figure out how to get there on their own.”

If you want to see how the pros play
Sunset Overdrive, the Insomniac Games All-Star team will throw down on Monday, Nov. 24 at 10 a.m. PT and livestream several new weapons that will be available soon. Tune into the Xbox Twitch channel to see all the action.

Enjoy the Awesomepocalypse this weekend, everyone!

Kan-Ra joins the Killer Instinct: Season 2 cast starting Monday - Fri, 21 Nov 2014 06:30:00 Z
Microsoft Studios and the development team at Iron Galaxy are excited to share a new trailer showing off the distinct playstyle and moves of the Babylonian Sorcerer, Kan-Ra, who will be joining Killer Instinct: Season 2’s roster of characters starting on Monday!

Cursed to rot after a failed assassination attempt on his king over 2000 years ago, Kan-Ra endured for centuries by constantly balancing the curses he places on himself with the boons provided by dark magic and artifacts. His solitary goal: to gain knowledge that will grant him absolute power over all of mankind. After getting imprisoned by Maya’s order hundreds of years earlier, an Ultratech attack on Maya’s city accidentally frees Kan-Ra—releasing him back onto an unsuspecting world that’s full of new mysteries and ripe for his… dissection. 

Drawing combat powers from the dark sorceries he’s mastered, Kan-Ra explodes into battle with a unique combination of ranged attacks, nasty ground and air-based traps, and incredible situational mobility. Players will be challenged to master his distinct playstyle and diverse arsenal to best effect against his opponents.

Kan-Ra will be available on Monday, Nov. 24, for
Season 2 Ultra Edition purchasers, and then on Sunday, Nov. 30, for Combo Breaker purchasers. Additional Season 2 characters will continue to be released on a monthly basis until the season ends in spring 2015 (hint: you might have glimpsed someone new in the trailer).

For additional details and specifics, or the chance to talk about Kan-Ra and other
Killer Instinct topics with fellow fans, visit Remember, Killer Instinct Season 2 is available right now through or via the Xbox One Games Store in the following bundles (and characters continue to be available for individual purchase):

Killer Instinct – Season 2 Ultra Edition
$39.99/34.99 Pounds/39.99 EURO

The Ultra Edition includes all eight 
Season 2 fighters, starting with currently available TJ Combo and Maya and the remaining six Season 2 fighters rolling out on a monthly basis (with Kan-Ra kicking this off on Nov. 24). Fans receive 16 accessory sets and eight exclusive costumes designed by Kevin Bayliss, art director for the original Killer Instinct arcade games, in addition to Killer Instinct 2 Classic (ESRB: M “Mature”), a perfect port of the 1996 arcade game with full multiplayer support over Xbox Live and 1000 Gamerscore to earn. Even more, owners of the Season 2 Ultra Edition will get initial access to characters and customization items before they’re available to Combo Breaker Pack owners or for individual sale starting in November.

Killer Instinct: Season 2 – Combo Breaker Edition
$19.99/16.99 Pounds/19.99 EURO  

Purchase all current fighters up front at a significant discount over the individual character price. You can immediately play TJ Combo and Maya, with the remaining six
Season 2 fighters rolling out on a monthly basis (starting with Kan-Ra on Nov. 24).

Bundles for
Killer Instinct Season 1, featuring the complete roster of 8 unique characters, are also available right now through or via the Xbox One Games Store.

Inside Shangri-La: The Mythology of Far Cry 4 - Thu, 20 Nov 2014 17:30:00 Z
One of the most interesting elements of Far Cry 4 is a series of side quests that unfold in the mystical realm of Shangri-La. By acquiring pieces of a religious painting, hero Ajay Ghale is transported into the role of Kalinag, who has been sent to rid the land of invading demons. These lush, stylized segments are positively loaded with symbolism and iconography; much of this is drawn from the Buddhist and Hindu traditions that permeate the real Himalayan region where Far Cry 4’s fictional country of Kyrat is set. Since those traditions are not exactly second nature to many of us here in the West, here's a quick primer on some of the most significant features of this fascinating storyline.


Though the concept of Shangri-La has come to mean a sort of mythical, heavenly place, it was originally conceived as a location on Earth. In the 1933 novel Lost Horizon, author James Hilton described an isolated valley where the inhabitants lived unnaturally long lives in harmony with nature. Though a fictional invention, Shangri-La is thought to have been influenced by the mythological kingdom of Shambhala – believed in Hindu and Buddhist tradition to be a land of perfect peace, tranquility, and happiness.


You can understand, then, why it being invaded by rakshasas would be a problem. These demons of Hindu mythology are portrayed as cannibals, blood-drinkers, and earthly incarnations of various elements of evil. In Far Cry 4, they can be found feasting on corpses, among other acts of nastiness. The fact that they've come to infest Shangri-La is very, very bad.

Bells of Enlightenment

Though a Bell of Enlightenment per se is not an element of Eastern mythology, ceremonial bells are a common element in Hindu and Buddhist practice, with both the sound and the physical form representing different concepts. The sound of a bell can indicate "Om" – the fundamental sound of the universe – and the shape can reference emptiness or void-ness. Handheld ceremonial bells, like those represented in Far Cry 4, tend to include a face on the handle, which is often claimed to be the face of Transcendent Insight.

Prayer Wheels

While in Shangri-La, you'll need to set some oversized prayer wheels spinning. These devices of Tibetan Buddhism are inscribed with mantras; spinning them is thought to be analogous to reciting the mantra aloud. Thus, a practitioner can send a whole row spinning and, in effect, multiply the effect of the mantra more than simply reciting it aloud. Far Cry 4's enormous prayer wheels generate enormous results.


In Far Cry 4, you gain access to each Shangri-La mission by collecting a piece of a thangka. In Buddhist practice, a thangka is religious painting, usually on silk or cotton. They are used both as teaching tools – as they tend to feature deities as a centerpiece – and as meditation guides. The art form originated in Nepal, but gained its religious significance in Tibetan Buddhism.


And what of Kalinag, the hero whose persona you take on while exploring Shangri-La? As far as we can tell, he's not based on any specific mythological character. The name, however, brings to mind nāgas, which in Hindu and Buddhist mythology tend to be snakes or dragons – wise protectors of nature who can assume human form – and Kali, the Hindu goddess of empowerment, time, and change.

The Protector

Kalinag's tiger companion also does not appear to be drawn from any direct source. However, tigers play significant roles in both Tibetan and Indian mythology. In Tibetan mythology, the tiger represents unconditional confidence, disciplined awareness, kindness, and modesty (interestingly, some Buddhist mythology paints a less flattering picture: The tiger is considered a symbol for uncontrolled anger). Tigers are also prominent in Hindu mythology, serving as mounts to deities Durga and Ayyappan. So, basically, the Protector is just an all-around mystical kitty.

You can experience all this mysticism yourself – not to mention a whole lot of good old-fashioned first-person shooting – in Far Cry 4, available now on Xbox One and Xbox 360.

Five New ID@Xbox Games Coming This Week - Thu, 20 Nov 2014 10:00:00 Z
It’s a big week for games from independent developers on Xbox One, with five new titles coming from ID@Xbox. It’s a super-strong lineup that speaks to the creativity and diversity of independent developers.

Today sees Never Alone and the The Jackbox Party Pack arrive in the Xbox Game Store.

Never Alone (Kisma Ingitchuna)
, by E-Line Media, is a hauntingly beautiful game developed in partnership with an Alaskan Native people, the Inupiat. Dozens of Alaskan Native storytellers and community members contributed to the game, which puts you in the role of a young Inupiat girl named Nuna, and her arctic fox companion (you can play solo, or with a friend controlling the fox). The game is narrated in the Inupiaq language, and features characters from classic Inupiaq stories. In addition to amazing art, Never Alone’s platform puzzler gameplay (developed just over the lake from Microsoft in Seattle’s University District) is really rewarding. It’s an amazing collaboration between top game designers and the elders and storytellers of an Alaska Native people, resulting in a really special game that you’ll want to show off as much as play – and you can use the breathtaking Achievement art for backgrounds on your Xbox One!

In a totally different direction is
The Jackbox Party Pack. From the Chicago-based Jackbox Games, The Jackbox Party Pack delivers five crazy party games, from “You Don’t Know Jack 2015” to “Word Spud.” Our favorite might be “Lie Swatter,” which enables up to 100 players to get in on some wacky “fact”-filled action! Rounding out the pack are “Fibbage XL” (which we think should be everybody’s go-to game for family Thanksgiving gaming – trust us on this one), and “Drawful” – where you can draw... well, awful things (in our case) on your phone or tablet. All the games work with any Internet-enabled tablet, smartphone, or PC, so everyone can play. With the holidays fast approaching, The Jackbox Party Pack needs to be on your Xbox One.

And Friday, we’re delivering a triple threat.

First up is PC hit
Thomas was Alone, Mike Bithell’s classic puzzle platformer, arriving on Xbox for the very first time from our pals at Curve Studios. The BAFTA-award-winning game is set inside a mainframe computer, and sees you working to help several emergent Artificial Intelligences – represented by simple geometric shapes, each with their own mechanics – achieve their goals (there’s a deeper plot, but we don’t want to spoil anything). Narrated by Danny Wallace, it’s an indie classic that we’re proud to have on Xbox One.

Piers Solar and the Great Architects
from WaterMelon started life as a Sega Genesis homebrew project, and grew from there. It’s a classic throwback to the Japanese role-playing games of the 16-bit era, and a true love letter to the genre. With a dedicated retro aesthetic that befits its homebrew roots, Piers Solar really takes you back in time.

Last but not least is
Pinball Arcade from Farsight Studios. Featuring faithful recreations of classic real-life pinball tables, the game features a free download of the core pinball emulator, and the option to purchase classic tables such as “Medieval Madness” (arguably the greatest table of all time!), “Creature from the Black Lagoon,” and “Twilight Zone.” More than 25 table will be available at launch, with many more to come in the future.

Wow! A week like this really helps to illustrate the breadth of games that independent teams continue to bring to Xbox One. So grab your favorite beverage (we lean toward iced coffee), pick your favorite genre, and get ready for an awesome week of gaming.

Atari: Game Over Now Available on Xbox - Thu, 20 Nov 2014 09:00:00 Z
Last summer, a team of excavators, archaeologists, filmmakers, and video game fans unearthed the industry’s biggest secret. And today, exclusively on Xbox One and Xbox 360, you can see the story of the biggest buried not-quite-treasure in gaming: E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial for the Atari 2600.

The new documentary “
Atari: Game Over” tells the real-life tale of one of video game’s biggest urban legends: that, in 1983, Atari dumped thousands of unsold copies of the notoriously bad E.T. video game in a New Mexico landfill.

Produced by Academy Award- and Emmy Award-winning producers Simon and
Jonathan Chinn, and directed by comic book movie veteran Zak Penn, “Atari: Game Over” explores the video game industry’s first bubble and collapse, as well as the golden age of video games, through the lens of the excavation.

Penn is perhaps best known for film-writing credits like “X2: X-Men United” and “Marvel’s The Avengers,” action-heavy films with big budgets. And while the actual dig site scene is described as “similar to an action scene, but on a very low budget,” the making of a documentary was a different experience for the director.

“A documentary is a search for the story,” Penn explained, “whereas I’m used to trying to preserve the story I’ve created.”

That fateful day in Alamogordo, New Mexico drew a crowd of people eager to see the legend brought to life... or the long-whispered theory debunked. As the first cartridge came up, the crew breathed a sigh of relief as their efforts were rewarded. The throngs of people present only added to the experience. Penn says he was “completely shocked” by the support from the crowd.

A feature of “Atari: Game Over,” powered by Xbox technology, is the ability to leave time-shifted comments that stay on the film’s timeline, so that your friends can see what you said as they experience the same point in the film. Additional comments are embedded by director Zak Penn thorough key moments.

As far as
E.T. goes, the game has been maligned for decades as “the worst video game ever,” but Penn sees it differently. “It’s so far from the worst video game that it’s absurd. I came to appreciate it as the story unfolded.”

“Atari: Game Over” is available starting today on Xbox One, Xbox 360, and
Xbox Video, and it is free for all Xbox Live subscribers to watch.

HBO GO Launches on Xbox One - Thu, 20 Nov 2014 06:00:00 Z
Today, HBO GO is arriving on Xbox One in the U.S. Now you can get every episode from every season of your favorite HBO shows right on your Xbox One.* That means you can watch the latest episodes from shows like “True Detective,” “Game of Thrones” and “Girls,” along with your favorite hits like “Entourage” and “The Sopranos.”  What’s more, HBO GO on Xbox One features Kinect voice and gesture control so you can easily search the entire catalog with the wave of a hand or quick voice command.

“Xbox is one of our subscribers’ favorite ways to access HBO GO and its incredible breadth of award-winning programming,” said Jeff Dallesandro, Vice President, Digital Domestic Network Distribution, HBO. “Now, Xbox One users can get in on the action and
Kinect with the very best HBO series and films on this innovative, state-of-the-art device.”

For more information on cable providers to authenticate the HBO GO app, please visit HBO’s website.

*Authentication required; not all HBO subscribers can authenticate as availability is based on the carriers in your area.
The following is a list of TV providers that authenticate HBO GO on Xbox One: AT&T, Bend Broadband, Blue Ridge Communications, Cablevision, Charter, Comcast’s Xfinity, Cox, DIRECTV, Dish, Grande Communications, HTC Digital Cable, Massillon Cable/Clear Picture, Mediacom, Midcontinent Communications, RCN, Suddenlink, Time Warner Cable, Verizon, and Wow!

Welcome to the Dragon Age Keep - Wed, 19 Nov 2014 17:00:00 Z
Dragon Age: Inquisition has finally arrived, and it's nothing short of spectacular. The triumphant return to the world of Thedas brings new characters, new intrigue, and a fantastic new open-world-style exploration mode that must be seen to be believed. Pretty much every reviewer agrees: Inquisition does an extraordinary job of continuing the Dragon Age saga, complete with all its rich history, fascinating locales, and masterful storytelling.

In fact, that backstory is so rich that it may lead newcomers to wonder whether they need to play the previous games to understand what's going on – and it may lead veterans of Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age II to wonder if they have to leave all their previous choices behind in making the jump to Xbox One.

The answer to both questions is found in the same place: the Dragon Age Keep. The Keep, currently in public beta, is a clever interactive website that both offers a quick primer for new players and allows returning fans to recreate the state of their previous games. Because the Xbox One is a new platform, BioWare knew it would be virtually impossible to import saves from earlier games – especially if those games were played on something other than Xbox 360. But as fans of the series well know, the choices you make can have far-reaching consequences, from births to deaths and pretty much everything in-between. So BioWare came up with an elegant solution: Via a series of multiple-choice selections, the Keep allows players to quickly and easily create a "World State" that perfectly mirrors their choices from the previous games.

All the major plot points are present, from the main games to the expansions. Character backgrounds, political allegiances, deaths, coronations, and even romance choices can be made, with the results laid out in a tapestry of stylized art. The site even keeps things consistent, alerting the user if one choice conflicts with another and automatically offering adjustments to remove the paradox.

Users can get as specific or as general as they like, micromanaging each individual decision or simply picking the big plot points and letting the Keep fill in the rest. Not every choice may have an effect in Inquisition, but anything from the previous game that would is present. Once all the choices have been made, players can export their custom world state to a server-side data file that can be imported when beginning Inquisition. And as an added bonus, the entire custom saga can be played as a simple animation sequence, complete with high-quality voiceover. You even get the opportunity to change your choices as they appear in the animation.

It's this last feature that should prove particularly helpful to new players. By simply loading up the Keep and playing the animation for the default world state, newcomers can get up to speed on the most significant developments in the series, and alter any choices they're not comfortable with on-the-fly. Of course, nothing beats actually playing the games yourself, but this serves as a fine primer for those without experience with one or both of the previous games.

Dragon Age: Inquisition is available now on both Xbox One and Xbox 360. It's a huge game, and it's worth starting out right. So, before you begin your quest, check out the Keep; a free Origin account will get you access and allow you to transfer your choices to Inquisition. Just a few minutes of getting up to speed can get you well-prepared to enter the newest Dragon Age adventure – and once you do, you can expect to stay there for a long, long time.

Many Thanks for One Year with Xbox One - Wed, 19 Nov 2014 12:00:00 Z
Saturday, November 22, marks the official one year anniversary of Xbox One. It’s been an unbelievable year, but we never would have gotten to this point without our incredible fans. We want to thank you for being a part of an amazing 12 months by celebrating with you all weekend long.

First, if you’re in one of our original 13 markets and have opted in to receive Xbox Marketing emails*, you’ll receive a personalized email detailing what you’ve accomplished since Xbox One launched last November. Here’s a look at some of the community achievements made on Xbox One this past year:

  • Overall, the total community Gamerscore earned on Xbox One is more than 11 billion
  • Fans spent more than 2 billion hours playing games on Xbox One
  • The top four most popular achievements unlocked include:
    • Forza Motorsport 5: Welcome to Forza Motorsport
    • Titanfall: Build Yourself
    • Destiny: Ship Rite
    • Call of Duty: Ghosts: Spatial Awareness

But that’s not all! To show our appreciation for your loyal and continued support for Xbox One, we’ll have several gifts available for our fans, celebrating one year on Xbox One. Beginning Friday, everyone** will get:

  • A Year One Gamer Picture
  • New Xbox One backgrounds: A special Year One background as well as an exclusive Day One background for those who unlocked the Day One achievement
  • A Year One background image for use on Twitter, your desktop, etc.
  • A free rental of “Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn” (for a limited time)
  • A free rental of “Dragon Ball Z: Battle of the Gods” movie and a sampler pack of “Dragon Ball Z” TV episodes (for a limited time, available in the U.S. and Canada only)

And in addition, fans will be selected at random to receive a special gift from us. The full list of possible gifts include:   

  • Xbox One Limited Edition Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Bundle (U.S. only)
  • Xbox One Special Edition Sunset Overdrive Bundle (U.S. only)
  • One month membership for Xbox One-exclusive EA Access service
  • Tiger Shark cash card for Grand Theft Auto V, worth $200,000 in-game GTA Online dollars
  • Forza gift pack with Forza RallyCross hat, Lamborghini Huracán 1/24 scale replica, and Xbox One Controller (launch team edition) signed by Tanner Foust, host of Top Gear America, Global RallyCross champion and professional stunt driver (U.S. only)
  • Forza Horizon 2 Limited Edition Casio G-Shock Men's Black Multi-Function Digital Sports Watch (U.S. only)
  • Grand Theft Auto V gift pack with the Los Santos Sheriff Trucker cap, Michael, Franklin and Trevor Posters, and a Grand Theft Auto V sticker pack (U.S. only)
  • Xbox Live Gold 12-month membership digital code
  • Killer Instinct Season 1 Combo Breaker Pack, the retail version of Killer Instinct Xbox One’s first season and includes all eight season one characters: Jago, Sabrewulf, Glacius, Thunder, Sadira, Orchid, and Spinal. Also includes Fulgore DLC character.
  • Special limited edition Nissan 370Z, featuring a custom Casio livery for Forza Horizon 2
  • Air Vehicle shortcut for Battlefield 4 for immediate access to all available unlocks for helicopters and jets available in the main Battlefield 4 game
  • Arno's French Rapier for Assassin's Creed Unity to improve your combat skills
  • 75 Platinum in Warframe
  • Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare Costume Pack for Peggle 2
  • Epic Quest Table in Pinball FX2
  • Dance Central Spotlight (full game token)
  • Project Spark Premium - 15 days: Grants 2x gain of Spark XP, credits, and champion XP, as well as the ability to purchase new token-only content for earned in-game credits

While we’re just getting started in some markets, we remain committed to all of our incredible fans worldwide and we’re so grateful for your support over the last year. Thank you for helping us celebrate this incredible milestone.

*The achievements celebration email will be sent to Xbox One customers who purchased prior to October 1, 2014, in our 13 launch markets who opted in to receive Xbox Marketing emails prior to Nov 11, 2014, are 17 years or older and have 10+ hours of usage on Xbox One. You can see which email address (if any) you have opted in, by signing in to your Xbox Live account on, clicking your Gamertag in the upper right, then Profile > Privacy Settings > Contact Preferences.
**The Year One Celebration gift box email will be sent to Xbox One customers who purchased the console between 11/22/13 – 11/11/14, in our 13 launch markets, are 17 years or older and have 10+ hours of usage on Xbox One. 

How to Get the Most Out of Grand Theft Auto V on Xbox One - Wed, 19 Nov 2014 11:30:00 Z
Come to Los Santos! The sun shines bright, the beaches are wide, and the shopping malls stretch far as the eye can see! Every working man can have a house – and inside every house, there’s a beautiful car that can be stolen at any moment. You can have all this and more. And who knows? You could be discovered, become a movie star, or at least see one. Life is good in Los Santos. It’s paradise on earth. That’s what they tell you, anyway.

The truth is that Los Santos is a dangerous place filled with more slippery characters than a Wagner opera staged in a butter factory. You’ll need to have your wits about you, and some serious street smarts to get through your life there. That’s why we’ve prepared this helpful guide for newbies to Grand Theft Auto V, set in the lovely Los Santos, and now available for an entire new generation of players on Xbox One.

Tip #1: Be a Good Samaritan. You never know when helping your fellow Los Santos citizens will yield big rewards for you. Sure, you might just ignore that stolen car as you chow down on your tacos; it’s none of your business, anyway. But, maybe you’re feeling like doing a good deed today. Maybe you chase the guy down in your own (possibly stolen, but let’s ignore that) car. Maybe you haul him out and bring the car back to its rightful owner. Maybe you get a thank you. Or maybe you get a huge cash reward that will make the game much easier for you. You never know. Sometimes it pays to be human.

Tip #2: Employ Your Animal Friends. Los Santos features a huge number of collectible items that you can seek out and find. But you may not know that your canine companion (which you’ll get at a certain point into the game) is a lot better at finding this stuff than you are. You don’t need to just wander about aimlessly, looking in random alleys (although you can do that if it’s your thing). Instead, download the iFruit app for your phone or tablet – yes, in real life, and no, it doesn’t cost anything – and use the integration to select “Make [Your Dog’s Name] Hunt for Pickups.” Boom! Your life just got so much easier.

Tip #3: Do Yoga. Yeah, it’s kinda hippie-dippie, and it might seem like it’s not getting you anywhere, but yoga (and other side activities) actually help improve your skills and attributes. Sure, the minigames may seem like an unnecessary distraction when you just want to do criminal stuff, but Grand Theft Auto V has built a complex system of energy recuperation, skill improvement, and secret benefits into these hobbies. Try out different ones with different characters, and you’ll notice vastly improved performance during the main missions.

Tip #4: Be a Savvy Stock Trader. You may not know this, but you can buy and sell stocks with each separate character in Grand Theft Auto V, all of whom have their own, individual bank accounts and money supply. Throughout the game, you’ll hear snippets of dialogue (on the radio or on the street) or just one-off lines that will give you hints as to which stocks are hot, and which aren’t. And this isn’t just some scripted marketplace thing; the BAWSAQ stock exchange (one of two you can trade on) is heavily influenced by the actual goings-on in the Grand Theft Auto V multiplayer world. If a certain car manufacturer gets a lot of its cars stolen or destroyed, its stock will actually decline. Additionally, certain characters will tell you if an assassination mission you carry out may affect a company’s stock – make sure you invest before you pull the trigger!

Tip #5: Buy an Airplane Hangar. Sure, this one is expensive... but a true Los Santos master of the universe has his own airplane hangar! Why? Well, going into a commercial airport can be dangerous for a wanted criminal, and they take away all your guns, even when you’re not wanted. That sucks! If you need to fly somewhere, or park a plane you’ve, er, “borrowed,” then why not have your own private hangar? No muss, no fuss. You can park that fighter jet or that 747 in there, and then just walk right off to do your business about the city.

All right, friends, those should be enough to get you started on the right path. Don’t forget to improve your characters’ stats, and – we can’t stress this enough – seek out those “blue dot” side missions on the mini-map as you drive. They can yield fantastic rewards and are generally worth it. Have fun in Grand Theft Auto V’s sunny Los Santos!

A Closer Look at Episode 2 of “Halo: Nightfall” - Wed, 19 Nov 2014 11:25:00 Z
“Halo: Nightfall,” the five-part Halo series airing exclusively on Xbox and Windows 8.1 via the Halo Channel, kicked off last week with its premiere episode, and today, the story continues with episode two, “Sourced From Hell.” The full series is included as part of Halo: The Master Chief Collection at no additional cost.

Let's recap. Last episode, the ONI operatives – led by Agent Locke – were caught in a biological attack on the colony world of Sedra. Their search for the answers to this deadly attack brought them to something they never thought they’d find: a fragmented piece of a Halo ring.

Now, Locke and team must join forces with the Sedran Colonial Guard to travel to the surface of the Alpha Shard, and stop the spread of this deadly new element by blowing it up with a Havok bomb. Time is ticking though, as the shard’s orbit around a nearby sun, will turn the ancient artifact into a furnace, killing anyone left on its surface.

Episode two of the five-part series ramps up the action and suspense, pitting the ONI squad against increasingly deadly obstacles in a race to save lives, and exploring the conflicts between the UNSC and Sedran forces. The action scenes are intense and tightly shot, and you’ll get a chance to see different sides of the characters you met in Episode One.  

This episode of “Halo: Nightfall” is now available on the Halo Channel. If you missed episode one, catch up on it, and check back every week for the next three parts of the epic Halo story. And here's the rest of the schedule for “Halo: Nightfall,” so you’ll never miss an episode!

Episode 3: November 25 (7:00 p.m. EST, 4:00 p.m. PST)
Episode 4: December 2 (7:00 p.m. EST, 4:00 p.m. PST)
Episode 5: December 9 (7:00 p.m. EST, 4:00 p.m. PST)

Five Reasons We’re Loving Dragon Age: Inquisition So Far - Tue, 18 Nov 2014 16:30:00 Z
The five-year culmination of the Dragon Age trilogy is finally upon us with Dragon Age: Inquisition, and it’s bringing the role-playing action in spades. If the notion of fighting dragons and other creatures of evil in this console generation’s first giant role-playing game doesn’t already have your blood pumping, here are five things that just might change that.

Continuity is King

For the most part, Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age II were standalone stories, but the events in Dragon Age: Inquisition take those games’ plots (and your actions in them) to their conclusions. If you’ve been playing the entire series, you’ll come face-to-face with both returning characters, and the consequences of your actions.

It’s Freaking HUGE

We’ve marveled at the enormous world of Dragon Age: Inquisition before, but it’s hard to really grasp how huge it is until you play for yourself. A single region in Inquisition is as big as the entire map in Origins. You’ll be 60, 80, or even 100 hours in, and will still be finding new places to explore!

Freddie Prinze, Jr. Plays a Giant Bull Guy, and it’s Awesome

Iron Bull is one of the nine playable party members featured in Dragon Age: Inquisition. And while they are all awesome and unique snowflakes, we love the fact that one of them is that guy who gave Rachel Leigh Cook a makeover in “She’s All That.”

The Combat Is Adaptable to Your Needs

You’ll be doing a lot of hiking and exploration during your time with Dragon Age: Inquisition, and that means meeting a whole ton of enemies. Between the ability to auto-attack, the easily mapped spells and abilities, and the team commands, you have a lot of options for fending off foes.

You Can Jump!

We know, that sounds small – but it’s new to Dragon Age: Inquisition. Because of the more massive worlds and areas to explore, there’s a lot more verticality to everything. You can climb mountains and explore caves and crevasses, and there are a lot of goodies and treasures to find that reward a healthy sense of exploration. Or, if it’s your usual MO in RPGs, you can just bunny-hop around the entire world.

Dragon Age: Inquisition is now available for Xbox One. If you’re new to the series, head over to to brush up on the story and customize your character’s path.

WWE 2K15 Gets Real - Tue, 18 Nov 2014 14:00:00 Z
WWE 2K15 is the first title in 2K Sports’ wrestling series series to hit the Xbox One, with aesthetic and performance upgrades across the board. The aesthetics are most immediately pronounced: The development team at Visual Concepts motion-captured specific movements of WWE superstars, and the technology it’s developed for the NBA 2K series – which produces near-photorealistic lighting, reflections, and skin tones – bring the action to life in ways not possible before. The increased animation means hits connect more realistically, and moves performed near the edges of the ring will cause wrestlers' bodies to bounce convincingly off of the ropes.

The gameplay has evolved as well. WWE 2K15 features an innovative chain wrestling element, whereby specific button presses will contest holds and locks, effectively creating a game within the game. This happens toward the start of the matches, enabling an element of ring psychology, initiating a rock-paper-scissors contest between the two wrestlers. Each selects either a head, wrist, or waist lock; the winner ends up in a dominant position, but both players must try to find a sweet spot with their right stick before their opponent does. If the dominant wrestler wins, they perform a move; if the defender wins, they move into the dominant position. A new three-tier stamina meter helps dictate a more realistic pace to matches, and the submission system and finisher processes have been completely revamped.

While there have been career modes and story lines in previous WWE 2K games, 2K15 bodyslams things up a notch. MyCareer mode lets you create a wrestler and take them all the way from the WWE performance center to WrestleMania; your decisions affect your character’s progression, as do wins and losses. The new 2K Showcase story-driven single-player campaign is based on the rivalries between CM Punk and John Cena, and Triple H and Shawn Michaels.

You’ll relive one of WWE’s most epic rivalries, playing through all of the most famous bouts from their legendary feuds, and unlocking things like documentary episodes and exclusive interviews. The game’s Season Pass program is focused on additions for 2K Showcase – and those who purchase the Season Pass will get exclusive access to WWE diva Paige. Want to get it all in one package? Grab the WWE 2K15 Digital Deluxe Edition for the ultimate WWE experience all year long.

Finally, commentary is being provided by Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler, who recorded their voice-overs at the same time (rather than in solo sessions), making for a more naturalistic WWE audio experience. 2K is emphasizing storytelling in the ring, as opposed to merely describing the action.

All told, WWE 2K15, out now for Xbox One and Xbox 360, is the most realistic wrestling game yet. Are you ready to step in the ring?

Minecraft: Xbox One Edition Hits Retail Shelves in North and South America Today - Tue, 18 Nov 2014 09:00:00 Z
In celebration of the retail release of Minecraft: Xbox One Edition in North and South America today –rolling out to all regions globally by Dec. 1 - we've decided to share some of our favorite Xbox-inspired builds the talented community of 15 million Minecraft fans on Xbox Live have cooked up. 

If you haven’t downloaded
Minecraft for Xbox One yet, pick up a copy at your local retailer for $19.99 (USD) and see if you can top these creations. 
This 1/8 scale Pillar of Autumn is awesome. The utterly massive, dozens-of-millions-of-brick build looks big enough to take down any and all Halos (
original source).

Nothing more reassuring than a giant
Gears of War logo hovering over the entire country. At least it keeps all the Locusts away!

You know, we take that back. That red skull is way more reassuring than this guy. He'll kill you with cuteness... and that chainsaw.

Check out this incredible playable map of Zanzibar, from
Halo 2 – it took the creator over two months to complete.

All you
Fable II fans should recognize this beautifully recreated Bowerstone Market.

meets Minecraft. Golem inbound!

Sunset Overdrive
is already cool enough to get the Minecraft treatment!

We love this gigantic
Halo ring... except for that part where those things destroy the planet!

Minecraft world gets a whole lot more awesome when Sunset Overdrive’s Fizzie is in it!

You can spot Fizzie hovering over this cool Sunset City-inspired build. You can even blow him up like the guys at Insomniac Games did!

And finally, some people just can’t get enough Fizzie in their life... so they created custom skins over the Overcharge mascot.

Special thanks to
Planet Minecraft, Minecraft Forum, and Minecrastinate for bringing attention to these amazing Xbox-themed builds. Test your own creative prowess on Minecraft: Xbox One Edition!

Crunchyroll Launches Today; ENCORE PLAY & MOVIEPLEX PLAY Round Out Premium TV Apps Out Now - Tue, 18 Nov 2014 08:00:00 Z
We’re launching three new apps today including MOVIEPLEX PLAY and ENCORE PLAY bringing you more choices in TV and movies and the beloved Crunchyroll, delivering your favorite Anime to Xbox One. Details here:

  • MOVIEPLEX PLAY and ENCORE PLAY: Check out all of your favorite movies and shows on ENCORE Play with movies like Iron Man 3 and After Earth. Plus, watch your favorite shows like Magnum, P.I. and Murphy Brown. With more than 1,500 titles you’re sure to find something for everyone.  MOVIEPLEX Play adds more than 200 great movies to the mix. Both are free with subscription through a participating television provider to Xbox One users in the U.S. Not a subscriber? Install the app and browse hundreds of great movies. If you like what you see, simply subscribe to MOVIEPLEX or ENCORE through a participating television provider and sign in.

  • Crunchyroll: Watch your favorite Anime titles including Naruto Shippuden, Sailor Moon, Sword Art Online, and One Piece in HD with Crunchyroll on Xbox One.** Instantly view over 20,000 episodes of professionally subtitled Anime, Korean drama, and live-action titles in HD. Enhance your Crunchyroll app experience with voice and gesture control via Kinect for Xbox One.

**Crunchyroll is available in Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States

Why Dragon Age: Inquisition Cannot Get Here Soon Enough - Mon, 17 Nov 2014 17:00:00 Z
While I’ve been loving my time with the excellent Xbox One games already released this year, in the back of my mind I've been itching for a big, giant role-playing game that I can get sucked into. A game to stay up way too late playing, with characters I will form an unhealthy attachment to, and then shed real tears for when one of them inevitably dies.

Oh look, here comes Dragon Age: Inquisition! It's exciting to see that one of the best modern RPG series around is pushing every boundary for its next-gen debut. Because, seriously – I just straight-up need to kill a dragon, and soon!

BioWare's medieval dark fantasy – full of dragons, betrayal, romance, wars, and magic – has always been a favorite, because it embodies the classic RPGs I grew up loving, while still expanding the genre with more modern gameplay sensibilities.

What keeps Dragon Age firm in my memory is the dark, intense story line, and the difficult choices you're forced to make along the way. Dragon Age: Origins was particularly tough at the end; I've gone through the pain of sacrificing my character's life to kill the Archdemon, then going back and changing my mind and having a baby with a sexy-but-maybe evil witch instead, then changing my mind again and letting someone die for the greater good (It all sounds bad, huh? Dragon Age really doesn't pull any punches).

With Dragon Age: Inquisition, I'm dying to step into the shoes of the titular Inquisitor, and lead my group – especially since a few of the nine potential party members are returning favorites. I mean, sure, Cassandra and Varric seem more likely to slice each others’ limbs off than team up together... but that probably means the situation has gotten very bad since Dragon Age II (spoiler alert: it has). Oh, and hey – that witch I had a baby with is back, too! Oh she's going to be mad that I haven't called since 2009.

If you've been paying attention, you've likely seen some of the breathtaking demo footage and trailers that have been released in recent months. They’re full of awesome lightning effects, scary ephemeral ghosts, and one even shows off an awesome battle against a frosty giant in a crumbling cathedral. With destructible, gorgeous rendered environments, the lands of Nevarra, The Free Marshes, and Orlais look utterly incredible. Also, they're freaking huge. Some of the open-world areas are allegedly a whopping four to five times the size of the entire world of Dragon Age: Origins.

And it may sound silly to get excited about this, but the romance system is new too. Forget about giving people gifts until you've drowned them in amulets and rings. In Inquisition, romance occurs naturally throughout the story, based on characters’ actions and personalities. You know, like in real life.

Whether you're a longtime fan of the series, or a newcomer to the age of dragons, it's exciting to have a massive, action-packed, brooding RPG coming to the Xbox One on November 18.

The Five Biggest Reasons We're Excited for Far Cry 4 - Mon, 17 Nov 2014 15:00:00 Z
Ubisoft’s Far Cry 4 is a massive open-world adventure full of deadly enemies, deadly locales, and deadly animals. Everything in this game is deadly. It's also one of the most massive, action-packed games of the year. Check out just five of the reasons why you should be pumped for this week’s release of Far Cry 4 on Xbox One and Xbox 360.

You can ride an elephant while you shoot a ton of dudes.

There are a ton of deadly animals inhabiting the region of Kyrat. But none have the pure destructive force of an elephant – and in this game, elephants basically act like living tanks. Plus, they let you ride them... which is not something we recommend you try with the snow leopards. Just trust us on this one.

Shangri-La is a real place, and it has a white tiger in battle armor.

Part of Far Cry 4 involves you going on a spiritual quest through the mystical city of Shangri-La. Your guide on this journey is a white tiger (a real one, not someone from the 80s hair metal band) wearing battle armor. He's pretty much He-Man’s BattleCat, but better, because he never changes back into Cringer.

You can climb to the top of mountains, then hang-glide off of them.

Verticality is the new hotness is games, and Far Cry 4 shows other games up by virtue of unfolding on the tallest mountain range on the planet. These are mountains so deadly that people die and get frozen solid, and are then used as landmarks for other climbers. But you get to climb them, then jump off of them like a complete badass.

It's about time we got a flashy, over-the-top villain!

Pagan Min – the main antagonist of Far Cry 4 – is practically a Disney villain. Voiced by the amazing Troy Baker, he's flamboyant, he's sinister, and it feels like he's going to break out into song at any moment. He's one of the most theatrical antagonists we've seen in a game, and he’s awesome.

Driving is awesome... and if you don’t want to drive, it’s automatic.

Far Cry 4 has an auto-drive feature. This may not sound like much, but the world of Kyrat is so gorgeous that you'll occasionally want to take the opportunity to look around and enjoy the sights. Also, it also frees you up to shoot enemies who are trying to ram you off the road. So that’s pretty nice.

Far Cry 4 hits Xbox One and Xbox 360 on November 18. Get ready for some high-altitude craziness!

Getting to Know Halo’s Agent Locke - Fri, 14 Nov 2014 14:00:00 Z
This week, “Halo: Nightfall” kicked off alongside the release of Halo: The Master Chief Collection. The five-part digital feature brings viewers back to the fragment of the original Halo ring from the original Halo: Combat Evolved. Rather than Master Chief, however, the series centers around Agent Jameson Locke, a soldier who has the rather unenviable task of leading an assault to defeat the Covenant insurgency. Mike Colter is the actor who fills Locke’s combat boots in “Nightfall,” and Locke will ultimately become a playable character and protagonist in next year's Halo 5: Guardians.

Set between the events of Halo 4 and Halo 5: Guardians, “Halo: Nightfall” serves as Locke’s origin story. It follows him and his team of agents from the Office of Naval Intelligence, as they’re caught in an insurgent attack while pushing toward an ancient artifact on the distant colony of Sedra. Sometime between “Halo: Nightfall” and Halo 5: Guardians, Locke becomes a Spartan IV – the latest wave of super-soldiers being trained by the UNSC. Unlike previous generations of Spartans, the Spartan IVs are made up of volunteers, rather than kids who have been willfully persuaded.

Colter has described Locke as a pragmatist, and a man willing to die for the sake of his mission. Locke’s motivation, however, still remains somewhat unclear. “What's not known is whether I'm a friend or foe,” Colter recently told OXM UK. “The relationship between Master Chief and Jameson Locke is going to be interesting. Because, what's the outcome? Is he dead or alive? Because that's usually what a manhunt comes down to – dead or alive – but you won't know what the purpose of finding Master Chief is [right away]. Or what will happen if we do find him, what condition he will be in, and where he's at mentally. But I'm sure that'll be a plot twist in Halo 5.”

We’re given a bit more insight into this dynamic as Locke interrogates the Arbiter about John-117 (AKA Master Chief) in the new cut-scenes that bookend Halo 2: Anniversary. Still, Colter himself says that he doesn’t know the answers to these (or many other) questions, as the writers tell him only what he needs to know for the scenes he’s working on.

For a taste of what Locke is all about before his playable premiere next year, check out “Halo: Nightfall” when you pick up Halo: The Master Chief Collection, now available for Xbox One.

LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham Goes Above and Beyond - Fri, 14 Nov 2014 13:00:00 Z
TT Games’ LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham is nothing if not complete. It features a rather staggering 150 DC Comics characters, which should satiate the appetites of even the most hardcore DC fans. Characters include the likes of standard favorites such as Superman and Wonder Woman, alongside outsiders like Condiment King, Mister Mxyzptlk and Polka-Dot Man. It’s a virtual A-to-Z of DC characters – a LEGO tour de force of the DC canon.

Beyond Gotham sees the caped crusader join forces with DC heroes to counter the villainous Brainiac's plan to shrink the world and add it to his collection of miniature, bottled planets. As the title implies, players will be going beyond Gotham City. The game includes a variety of hubs, ranging from the Batcave and the Justice League Watchtower to... well, the moon and beyond.

Most importantly, the characters feel distinct from one another, with players able to choose from among a wide variety of special abilities. There’s also the usual Free Play mode, which lets you play as anyone you’ve unlocked to run through previously finished story missions. In the months after release, Beyond Gotham will get several downloadable character packs featuring new DC heroes, villains, and missions beyond the main game. And, of course, there’s cooperative play, which has always been one of the LEGO series’ most essential features.

In case you’re wondering, the gameplay is still the classic LEGO style: bash baddies, smash scenery, assemble blocks, and trigger special sequences to advance to the next level. The game features a ton of collectibles, as well as plenty of vehicles to commandeer. When the Justice League Watchtower gets overtaken by the Joker, for instance, you’ll destroy the outer defenses with your Batwing. Ultimately, the game attempts to speak to two audiences simultaneously: younger player who are down for anything LEGO, as well as older comics fans who are looking to dig deep into the DC Universe’s characters and lore.

No matter which camp you fall into, LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham is the most fun and feature-packed LEGO game to date.

An Interview with Halo Overlord Frank O’Connor - Thu, 13 Nov 2014 16:19:12 Z
Frank O'Connor is a name familiar to those who have followed the Halo series over the years. Also known as Frankie, he’s the Franchise Development Director for Halo at 343 Industries, overseeing pretty much anything and everything Halo. He goes way back with the series, previously working as the content manager for Bungie – and he knows the franchise better than almost anyone. We caught up with him at this week’s HaloFest 2014 in Los Angeles, California to get his thoughts on the Halo franchise’s various big new developments, from Halo: The Master Chief Collection to the Halo 5: Guardians Multiplayer Beta.

Xbox Wire: What are your thoughts on HaloFest, and all the big Halo stuff you’re working on?

Frank O’Connor: It’s a celebration. We’ve got have celebrities and VIPs and whatnot, but there’s a lot of community guys here as well – people who have stuck with this franchise for 13 years, and we brought them here to play Halo: The Master Chief Collection and the Halo 5: Guardians Multiplayer Beta. We made some changes; some will be boring and some will be controversial, but they’re all changes we intend to make for the better.

And I think we’re gonna get the biggest bang for the buck when the beta goes live, and players are can start feeding [data] to us, and also their opinions and their feelings – they’re harder to gauge and harder to objectify, but we’re gonna do our best, and we’re definitely listening.

Xbox Wire: How did Halo: The Master Chief Collection get off the ground?

Frank O’Connor: Halo: The Master Chief Collection, way back when we started, was just a conversation about Halo 2: Anniversary. The tenth anniversary was coming up, and we had this conversation about what would make it more meaningful. We [realized] that Master Chief’s story is split up by this completely arbitrary thing, which is technology and generations of consoles. You don’t have that with movies, you don’t have that with books; there’s no technological barrier to the continuation of a story. And so we said, “What if we put all the games on one console, finally... and we can just move forward from there?”

Xbox Wire: What was the toughest obstacle for you guys?

Frank O’Connor: The biggest challenge, I think, was the scale. It’s a massive undertaking of four full games. It’s a lot of technology – 60 frames per second, 1080p, all that. There’s a Halo 2: Anniversary multiplayer component, which is really its own game. But I think the biggest challenge was philosophically connecting all these pieces with a unified user interface.

That wasn’t the hardest technological challenge, but it was one of the hardest design challenges, because you had to make Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary connect with Halo 4 through a user interface that was also easy to navigate. I think if you’re a consumer, you think, “Well, the UI is just some buttons and selections that you press,” but I think game designers and people who work on UI systems for games are gonna look at that and say, “Yeah, I understand why that was a bear.”

Xbox Wire: How did you go about further weaving the games’ respective stories together?

Frank O’Connor: The game stories themselves tie together fairly well; they’re sequels, obviously, and there’s natural cohesion between the stories. But we had this opportunity to really enhance the fidelity. And the one that needed it the most was Halo 2, because it’s this great story but it’s really complicated, and it ends on a cliffhanger. So we worked with Blur and redid all the cinematics, and not just the fidelity – we also did stuff with camera angles to tell the story better, for instance.

We didn’t change the script; the timing is identical, and you can actually switch between the old and new cinematics. But it’s the same story, just told at a higher fidelity... and that really impacts the quality of the story. I showed it to Joe Staten, who wrote the story and worked on the cinematics, and I think he’s happy. I think it’s the story he wanted to tell, and did tell – we just polished it a bit.

Xbox Wire: How was it working with the team at Blur Studio, given their impressive legacy?

Frank O’Connor: The techniques and cinematography that Blur brought to it are huge – an immeasurable benefit to us. Their technology is amazing. Their facial capture, their motion capture... but I think that they added a lot of art to it. [It] was in there, but someone really needed to excavate it and make it sing, and I think they did an amazing job.

A Newbie's Guide to Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Multiplayer - Thu, 13 Nov 2014 12:30:00 Z
As spectacular as Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare's single-player campaign is, multiplayer is a huge draw for millions of people. There's a good reason for that: It's fantastic. But it can also be daunting for new players to jump into a game against seasoned veterans and prestiged players. Fortunately, we're here to help, with eight simple tips to help you get a jump-start on your online Call of Duty career.

Do pick the right tool for the job.
One thing you'll learn after enough time online is that some weapons are great for some game types, and some are so very not. Shotguns, for example, can be a great benefit in the crazy scrims around the flags in Momentum. But in, say, Search and Destroy, a longer-range, more precise weapon can be much more beneficial. Generally speaking, the faster-paced the match, the more helpful close-ranged weapons like shottys and SMGs will be, and vice versa. One other note: Make sure you check out the Scorestreak modules. Several of the Scorestreak rewards can be customized so that you keep your progress toward them, even after you die! This is an enormous benefit to new players, who are less likely to rack up the necessary points in a single life.

But don't use a custom loadout right off the bat.
When you first launch into Advanced Warfare's multiplayer, you'll see the Create a Class option and probably want to set up your own custom character. But hold off for a bit; the preset loadouts boast gear that you actually haven't unlocked yet, making it much easier to do well as a newbie. Even better: Playing with these loadouts still lets you unlock the attachments and higher-level gear that allows you to set up a devastating kit in Create a Class.

Do trade Supply Drop gear for experience.
Periodically during play, you'll receive a Supply Drop. These gifts from the gaming gods are random packs of new gear and/or bonuses, ranging from simple cosmetic upgrades to modified versions of stock weapons. They come in different levels of rarity, and here's the fantastic thing: You can trade them in for experience points. The more rare the equipment, the more XP you get for trading it in. The XP is fixed – either 500, 1000, or 2000 XP depending on the level – which means that it'll be worth less toward your level progression as you move up the ranks. So, don't be too precious with those fancy helmets and such. At the start, you'll get a lot more benefit from the XP.

But don't be too hasty to dump weapons.
There's one big exception here: weapons. Often, you'll get a weapon in a Supply Drop that you either can't use yet, or don't expect to. But be very careful before trading these in; often, you'll find that the modified weapon is a pretty significant improvement from the stock version. If it's a weapon type you simply never use, you may find it more helpful to trade it for XP. But even then, you're probably better off hanging onto it for awhile, just to be sure.

Do make an effort to trick out your favorite weapons.
Attachments in Advanced Warfare make weapons more powerful – sometimes dramatically so. A thermal scope on a long-range rifle can be devastating in strategic game types, for example, and a stabilizing grip on an SMG can work wonders at close range. Each attachment has specific challenges you'll need to complete before it's unlocked: get a certain number of kills while aiming down the sights, say, or get a certain number of headshots. Pay attention to the requirements for each attachment, and your progress toward completing them. Knowing what you're close to unlocking helps you keep moving forward in the quest to trick out your gear.

But don't obsess about every weapon.
There are so many weapons in the game, though, that there's a real danger of losing focus – leaving you with an arsenal of half-assed gear with nothing really outstanding in its field. Find a weapon that works for you (the Firing Range is fantastic for this) and stick with it until you've tricked it out to your satisfaction.

Do choose your match type based on your goals.
Tying in with the previous point, you'll find that certain game types favor certain types of progression. Momentum and Free-for-All, for example, tend to feature loads of kills, but not necessarily loads of XP. Fast-paced, many-death modes like those are great for unlocking weapon attachments. But if you're looking to level up your character, you need the extra XP that more strategic modes like Domination and Capture the Flag provide. Completing objectives in these modes offers healthy chunks of XP in addition to the standard points awarded for straight kills. Kill Confirmed is a nice middle-of-the-road choice for new players, since you get points for your own kills, points for picking up the tags of your kills, and points for picking up the tags of other players' kills. That way, you can still make a difference even if you're having a bad targeting day.

But don't neglect the other match types!
Advanced Warfare has a huge range of multiplayer games, and they're all pretty much awesome. Some are blazingly fast, and some are slow and methodical. Some are huge, and some are intimate. Make sure you try them all! And a special note here: Even as a new player, don't be too intimidated by "Hardcore" modes. The lack of radar and increased damage may make things a little more challenging for you, but don't forget that they make things more challenging for your enemy, too. And the tougher damage model can be an unexpected benefit for players who haven't yet progressed beyond the "spray and pray" stage. You might find that you end up with more kills than in other game types.

Of course, there's no one correct way to play Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. If you want to try out your own strategies, the game is available now on Xbox One and Xbox 360.

Start Playing Dragon Age: Inquisition Now on EA Access - Thu, 13 Nov 2014 11:30:00 Z
Itching to get your hands on Dragon Age: Inquisition, the newest chapter in EA’s beloved fantasy role-playing saga? It doesn’t hit stores until November 18 (next Tuesday), but if you’re an EA Access subscriber, you’re in luck: As of right now, the first six hours of the game are available to play on EA Access, only on Xbox One, a full five days early.

Dragon Age: Inquisition is already shaping up to be one of the best games in the series, as well as one of the best games of 2014 – and it’s already received its fair share of critical acclaim. This is definitely the next-gen RPG you’ve been looking for.

So, what are you waiting for? Make a beeline for the EA Access Hub app on your Xbox One – and if you’re not an EA Access subscriber yet, go sign up at the official website, and enjoy access to a bevy of EA’s amazing games for just $4.99 per month, as well as sweet perks like early access to new games and 10% off digital purchases, exclusively on Xbox One!

Brace for Impact – ScreamRide Blasts onto Xbox This March - Thu, 13 Nov 2014 10:00:00 Z
ScreamRide—the latest creation from Microsoft Studios and Frontier Developments—is catapulting its way onto Xbox this Spring! Revealed earlier this year at gamescom, ScreamRide reinvents the rollercoaster genre with action and over-the-top destruction as never seen before. 

hosts more than 50 playable levels across the globe, giving players the chance to push the limits of physics and their own creativity through its three gameplay modes: Engineer, ScreamRider and Demolition Expert. Share your original creations on Xbox One*, and compete on global leaderboards on Xbox One and Xbox 360.

Releasing in-stores and digitally on March 3 in North and South America, March 5 in Asia** and March 6 in Europe,
ScreamRide will be $39.99 on Xbox One and $29.99 on Xbox 360.

We’ll have more to share while you wait for the ride to start, but just know that all of your screams can come true this March, only on Xbox.

*Xbox One only
**Release date varies by country in Asia/the Pacific.

Press Play’s Kalimba Rocks onto Xbox One this December - Thu, 13 Nov 2014 09:00:00 Z
Earlier this year, we took a look at Project Totem, a colorful new game from the creators of Max: The Curse of Brotherhood. Now, we’re happy to announce Project Totem’s launch date and its official name: Kalimba! Coming to the Xbox Games Store for $9.99, Kalimba will be available on December 17 for Xbox One and January 2015 on PC.

Press Play’s highly-anticipated puzzle platformer has players controlling animated totems on a quest to overthrow an evil shaman and reclaim the island of Kalimba for the Kalimbi people. The distinct look comes from the “trixelated” art style that uses triangles as the main influence. In addition to the unique art style of the world, puzzles, enemies and totems,
Kalimba also offers both single player and couch co-op modes. Creative Director Asger Strandby calls it, “kind of a friendship tester – if you can play the game and high five more than you slap each other, you’re probably ready to get married.”

Originally conceived during the final development stages of
Max: The Curse of Brotherhood, Asger Strandby and his brother Bo Strandby described working on the game as “a chance to be creative and test our new ideas,” while they were finding and fixing bugs with Max.

After showing an early prototype at an employee party, the studio drafted a small team to continue working on it in time for its debut at the Game Developers Conference. Since then, it’s also been shown this year at San Diego Comic-Con and PAX Prime, and the team has been working around the clock to make good on its promise of a 2014 release while also incorporating player feedback from those events into the final version.

Check out the latest info and assets
here, and to sign up for an exclusive sneak peek of the game, please visit Press Play’s website.

The Coolest New Achievements in Halo: The Master Chief Collection - Wed, 12 Nov 2014 17:00:00 Z
Need one more reason to be psyched about the just-released Halo: The Master Chief Collection? There are 450 brand-spankin’-new Achievements to get under your belt. That comes to a grand total of 4500 Gamerscore – more than you’d expect to get in four separate games – all packed together in one awesome title. So yeah, in addition to the cornucopia of gameplay, the amazing upgraded graphics, and the metric ton of multiplayer maps, The Master Chief Collection brings the hotness for Achievement hunters in an unprecedented way.

Let’s take a look at just a few of the cooler (and more challenging) achievements you can get, and how to earn them:

1) From “Just a Taste” to “Medal Completionist” (5 Gamerscore/20 Gamerscore)
Ranging from earning 500 playlist or campaign medals to 10,000 (yes, ten freakin’ thousand!) medals, with a new Achievement at every thousand along the way – each worth 10 Gamerscore – earning medals is the best way to jack up your Gamerscore quickly with The Master Chief Collection. It’s easier said than done, of course, but the opportunity is there, especially since more than 100 unique new medals have been added to the Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary and Halo 2: Anniversary campaigns. So, get fancy! Earn those style points!

2) “Sample Plate” (20 Gamerscore)
You earn this one for completing three cross-game playlists. What is a “cross-game playlist?” The developers of The Master Chief Collection have created a few mishmash-style campaigns which range across all four Halo titles. These are thematically constructed (“Epic Battles,” for example, sees you play three white-knuckle defense missions across three games), and seamlessly integrate the gameplay experience from multiple Halo missions into a coherent package. That said, switching from game to game can be challenging, and completing three full, cross-game playlists is for Halo experts only. Still, these sorts of remixes are endlessly fun – and 20 Gamerscore is a nice addition to your total.

3) “Grand Theft Halo” (10 Gamerscore)
This one is a multiplayer Achievement, and tasks you with “stealing” a total of five occupied vehicles from opponents in a single multiplayer match. While not particularly hard to do if you put your mind to it, this one can be annoying if those pesky enemies keep shooting you as you try to steal Warthogs or other vehicle from them. Our suggestion? Be stealthy and come in from above. They never expect death (or, in this case, larceny) from above!

4) “Bros to the Close” (10 Gamerscore)
Halo 4 fans will remember the Infinity mission, in which you’re a part of a bigger fight including a bunch of non-player marines. This Achievement tasks you with preventing their deaths – all of their deaths (sans a few that are scripted) – for the entire mission, on Heroic or Legendary difficulty. This one is really hard to do (as escorting NPCs often is), given the mere 10 Gamerscore that you get – but we wanted to call it out just in case you’re crazy enough to actually do it.

5) “Goat Roped”/“Monopolized”/“Devastating”/“You’re Joking” (30 Gamerscore each)
Speaking of driving yourself crazy, here are the mother lode Achievements of The Master Chief Collection. Each of these is specific to one of the Halo games, in chronological order, and each tasks you with completing that game’s entire single-player campaign, on Legendary difficulty, in under three hours. No wasting time, no sitting around reading terminals or searching for skulls – your only chance here is to kick the ever-loving crap out of everything, take no breaks, and die very, very few times. If you manage to do this, you will have beaten every one of The Master Chief Collection’s missions, on their hardest difficulty setting, in under 12 hours. You are a maniac (of the awesome variety) if you get all four of these Achievements!

That’s just a few of the huge number of Achievements available to you in Halo: The Master Chief Collection. We don’t want to ruin the surprise, so we won’t list everything – instead, pick up your copy exclusively for Xbox One, get out there, strap on your helmet, pick up your Battle Rifle, and start earning that Gamerscore, marine!

Xbox One Sales on the Rise - Wed, 12 Nov 2014 14:00:00 Z
The past few weeks have been incredibly exciting, marked by a series of highly-anticipated game and bundle launches and the most affordable prices yet for Xbox One. We are humbled by the positive response to our new offerings and grateful for the support from our fans. 

Yesterday, we celebrated the arrival of the iconic Halo franchise on Xbox One, as Halo: The Master Chief Collection launched to millions of excited fans and an impressive Metacritic score of 89. Sunset Overdrive was recently named by IGN as the “Game of the Month” for October.  The new Xbox One bundles, which feature some of this holiday’s most anticipated games including Assassin’s Creed Unity, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, and Sunset Overdrive, hit store shelves with a limited time offer of $50 off any Xbox One of your choice. Starting as low as $349 in the US, the Xbox One is more affordable than ever this holiday season.

The response to this wave of blockbuster game releases and new bundles has been amazing, and sales have skyrocketed since the new price took effect on Nov. 2. Compared to the previous week, Xbox One sales in the US have more than tripled, which is exciting as more and more friends will be playing together this holiday. As we head into the busy holiday season Xbox One led generation 8 console sales in the US for the past two weeks.  Shortly, we will have sold in to retailers more than 10 million Xbox One consoles.

Almost one year ago, I had the honor of shaking hands with hundreds of fans at our Xbox One launch in New York City. We have listened to your feedback and have worked hard to deliver hundreds of improvements to Xbox One, celebrated the launch of amazing new games, and sought ways to offer more value for you.  As we reach this milestone, I remain awestruck by your passion for games and your support of Xbox One.  Thank you for an incredible year.


Digging Into Assassin’s Creed Unity’s Cooperative Brotherhood Contracts - Wed, 12 Nov 2014 14:00:00 Z
Now that Assassin’s Creed Unity is here, we took the opportunity to don our cloaks and experience the game’s new Brotherhood Contracts. These two-to-four-player team-ups nicely blend narrative-driven objectives with cooperative strategizing – and, of course, blade-bearing action.

Separated into three acts, each with its own goals and Templar-silencing opportunities, our most recent co-op contract session saw us rendezvousing with an intel-gathering spy. Of course, plenty of blood needed to be spilled before we could have our little meeting; we were first tasked with stealing back our spy's secret notebook from some assassin-hating guards. After surveying the area – the outskirts of a military prison – with eagle vision, we incorporated a stealthy strategy of tossing smoke bombs and systematically dropping distracted guards. With the field cleared (save for some unconscious guards), we looted the targets and found the journal.

This first act was just a warm-up, though, to the challenges act two would present. As it turns out, our spy friend was scheduled to be executed in front of a riotous crowd of onlookers and a handful of Templar generals. Complicate that with a sniper patrol watching the action from surrounding balconies, and it was clear it would take more than a choking cloud of smoke to complete this layered objective. While we took to the rooftops to silently snuff out the snipers one by one, our teammate waded into the crowd to identify the generals with eagle vision. With our valuable asset’s date with death growing ever nearer, we needed to act quickly.

Working individually (with one player silencing the snipers, while the other thinned the crowd of Templar threats) worked well, but we panicked when our spy stepped up to the guillotine. Acting a bit hastily benefited us, however, as our actions caused all hell to break loose: Fights erupted in the crowd, guards were occupied, and the distraction allowed us to hightail it to temporary safety.

While we both managed to evade the enemy patrols (and the spy got to keep his head), the two of us were separated during the ensuing chaos. The contract’s concluding chapter would ultimately see us making our meeting, but not before having to track our sneaky asset to a graveyard crawling with more guards. Thankfully, our teammate had a berserk dart, which he effectively incorporated to turn many of the patrolling foes against each other. Coupled with a few stealth takedowns, this strategy allowed us to find the catacomb entrance the spy had slipped into. Of course, the gate was secured, so one of us needed to keep one last round of baddies at bay while the other worked some lock-picking magic.

With the last of the enemies incapacitated, the catacomb entrance breached, and our meeting made, the mission ended. The promise of 10 more Brotherhood Contracts – each lasting between 30-45 minutes – has us excited. Toss in the fact that these team-based missions are organically woven into the title’s larger narrative tapestry and often reward players with rare, character-customizing loot, and we’re already looking forward to diving back in for more cooperative action

Want in? Pick up your copy of
Assassin’s Creed Unity for Xbox One today, or grab the Xbox One Assassin’s Creed Unity Bundle if you haven’t already!

Rebuilding Halo 2's Soundtrack from the Ground Up - Wed, 12 Nov 2014 13:40:00 Z
The shining star of the all-new Halo: The Master Chief Collection is Halo 2: Anniversary, a love letter to the franchise in the form of a totally remastered 10th anniversary edition of this incredible game. We’ve talked about the amazing visuals, but Halo 2: Anniversary got a lot more than updated textures and frame rates: The entire soundtrack has been redone, with remastered and new songs to bring Halo 2: Anniversary up to a higher level.

The music team – consisting of Paul Lipson, Lennie Moore, Tom Salta, Brian Trifon, and Brian White – has worked on Halo games in the past, and took that experience and love of the series into the process of updating
Halo 2’s soundtrack for a new generation of gaming.

“This is very beloved, iconic music, so we spent a long time in preproduction, crafting a plan that we felt honored the original material, but moved things forward both creatively and qualitatively,” Lipson said.

“This was probably our biggest challenge and balancing act, creating what we came to refer to as a 'celebration and innovation.'  We wanted to make the ultimate love letter to our fans and to the game, so getting deep into the details made all the difference.”

So how does one go about recreating one of the most iconic and well-loved game soundtracks of all time? Note. By. Note.

The team spent two months transcribing the score, listening to every song, and writing the notes down by hand. Laborious? Sure, but Lipson and team used the challenge to their advantage.

“It’s a fascinating, almost anthropological process,” Lipson explained, “and it gave us the chance to make some very exciting creative decisions."

After transcribing, Lipson and the team went about re-orchestrating the entire score – another three months of work in itself – to produce 198 minutes of musical arrangements.

From there, it was on to recording. But the team at 343 Industries didn’t pick just any recording studio. They teamed up with the Skywalker Symphony, a collection of world-renowned symphony orchestra musicians, led by orchestrator Wataru Hokoyama and recorded by Leslie Ann Jones. Steve Vai, known for his guitar tracks in the original
Halo 2, came back to recreate the iconic sounds that help define the Halo 2 soundtrack. And on top of that, 40 members of the San Francisco Opera Chorus and the San Francisco Boys Choir lent vocals.

The recording process took another eight days, and Lipson commended everyone involved for “how quickly they absorbed our artistic vision and intent for the music.”

In addition to the scores, 343 Industries brought in Misha Mansoor – amazing metal guitarist and avid gamer – to compose two unique tracks for the remastered soundtrack, replacing the tracks by Incubus and Breaking Benjamin featured in the original (though those tracks are still featured in the legacy version of the soundtrack). Lipson said Mansoor was at the top of the list, and was chosen for his current and pioneering sound.

“He can be both very heavy and very melodic at the same time, and after a few creative conversations we knew he would be the perfect partner. When you first jump into a Banshee and hear his cues kick in, it is immediately obvious that we made an innovative choice.”

After everything was recorded, it took another few months to master, edit, and work the soundtrack into the game. Lipson explained that the new soundtrack plays in multi-channel surround and features and expanded palette with stronger brass, woodwinds, percussion, and hybrid electronic elements that gives everything an “immersive warmth.”

“Technically, it really is state-of-the-art over what was achieved 10 years ago,” Lipson said.  “The recording quality from Skywalker Sound is breathtaking.”

Lipson’s favorite track? The new Main Halo Theme, featuring Steve Vai.

“From the very first notes, you know it’s
Halo 2 – and that is the definition of iconic.”

Psyched to check out the new
Halo 2: Anniversary music and the new... well, everything else? Grab your copy of Halo: The Master Chief Collection today, exclusively on Xbox One!

Creating Your Custom Assassin in Assassin’s Creed Unity - Tue, 11 Nov 2014 16:00:00 Z
For as long as we’ve been playing the Assassin’s Creed series, we’ve wanted the chance to create and customize our very own assassin. With the introduction of online co-op play for the just-released Assassin’s Creed Unity for Xbox One, the ability to customize your assassin becomes even more important. A large part of the appeal of online play is showing off your style and skill, and Unity gives you the canvas to do just that.

Customization in Unity means more than dyeing your assassin’s cloak purple (but, yeah, you can totally make it purple). It’s about fine-tuning your assassin to be as deadly as possible.

There are three basic areas of skill customization: Combat, Navigation, and Stealth. You can add skills to these three areas with different abilities and items that you earn throughout the game’s campaign. Different skill sets might be more beneficial in different missions, and Unity gives you the ability to play in a more specialized way.

New to the series is the ability to focus on different strengths to compliment your gameplay tendencies. Things like stealth, melee combat, and ranged attacks can be upgraded and focused on, so you can kill corrupt French thugs as efficiently as possible. Prefer to hang out on rooftops and snipe guards? Go for it! Like to jump down and get your hands dirty with some hand-to-hand combat? You can do that, too.

Likewise, the gear and weapons in Unity all materially change how your assassin plays. Heavier armor gives you more protection at the cost of stealth; light weapons do less damage, but are better at parrying attacks. The notion that you can make a tank character, then switch it up and go stealthy and nimble, is an exciting prospect for the series.

This all comes together in co-op, where having a team of four assassins with different skill sets makes your team more effective and deadly. Likewise, the skills that you earn – like the ability to heal or disguise yourself – can be used on teammates as well. The co-op missions are designed to be replayable, earning you new loot with each session... but they also tie in with the main campaign’s story, making them integral to the game.

And of course, there’s an aesthetic element to the customization, allowing you to change color schemes and other small details of your assassin. We’ll soon be trying out our hot pink and lime green color combination. Our footsteps may be quiet, but that outfit is LOUD!

Pre-Order and Pre-Download Grand Theft Auto V on Xbox One Starting Today - Tue, 11 Nov 2014 12:00:00 Z
Rockstar Games' critically acclaimed open world game, Grand Theft Auto V, is coming to Xbox One.

Pre-order and pre-download the Xbox One Grand Theft Auto V Pre-Order Edition, available today for $59.99.  The Pre-Order Edition includes the standard game plus $1,000,000 in-game cash to spend across Grand Theft Auto V and Grand Theft Auto Online – Get it today through the Xbox Store on the console or online at

Grand Theft Auto V for Xbox One will feature a range of major visual and technical upgrades to make Los Santos and Blaine County more immersive than ever. In addition to increased draw distances and 1080p resolution at 30FPS, players can expect a range of additions and improvements including:

  • New weapons, vehicles and activities
  • Additional wildlife
  • Denser traffic
  • New foliage system
  • Enhanced damage and weather effects, and much more

Grand Theft Auto V
for Xbox One comes with the all-new First Person Mode, giving players the chance to explore the world of Los Santos and Blaine County directly through the eyes of their character, revealing all the world's glorious details in an entirely new way.  Available in both GTAV and GTA Online, Rockstar Games has made a host of changes to accommodate this new perspective, including the creation of an optional first person cover system, a new targeting system, a more traditional FPS control scheme, and integrating thousands of new animations into the existing game. It's also available at the touch of a button so you can easily switch back and forth between perspectives.

To reward loyal Grand Theft Auto V fans for coming back to the newer, more detailed version of Los Santos and Blaine County, Rockstar Games has created an array of exclusive items specifically for these players - with each of them connected to activities designed for them to experience the game's massive world in new and exciting ways.

Grand Theft Auto V for Xbox One will also feature enhanced radio selections with over 150 additional new songs and new DJ mixes from returning DJs across the game’s 17 radio stations.

Enhancements to Grand Theft Auto Online include an increased player count, with online play now for up to 30 players on Xbox One.  All existing gameplay upgrades and Rockstar-created content released since the launch of Grand Theft Auto Online will also be available for the Xbox One with much more to come.

And don’t forget, existing players will be able to transfer their Grand Theft Auto Online characters and progression from either PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 to Xbox One.  For more info about gaining access to exclusive content for returning players, please visit

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

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

For more information on Grand Theft Auto V on Xbox One check out our previous coverage of the game, or check out the Rockstar Games Newswire for the latest details and updates. 

Hands-on with the Halo 5: Guardians Multiplayer Beta - Tue, 11 Nov 2014 12:00:00 Z
It’s almost here. The day Halo fans have been waiting for since the day they finished Halo 4. That’s right, the official unveiling of Halo 5: Guardians gameplay is upon us. Perhaps not surprisingly given the Halo franchise’s deep multiplayer lineage, the team at developer 343 Industries decided to show off the next evolution of the series’ multiplayer first. At HaloFest, the team introduced the world to the Halo 5: Guardians Multiplayer Beta that will begin on December 29 and run through January 18. It will be open to everyone who purchases Halo: The Master Chief Collection for Xbox One.

We had the chance to go hands-on with the Halo 5: Guardians Multiplayer Beta last week for a closer look at the future of Halo multiplayer. Even in this early state, it’s an absolute blast to play.

Though Halo 5: Guardians will have a variety of both large and small gametypes and maps, the focus for the multiplayer beta will be on intense 4-on-4 arena action. There will be seven maps in the beta (we checked out three of them), as well as a brand new game type. One map, Truth, is a striking homage to Halo 2’s Midship that features multiple levels and curved Covenant hallways. Empire, on the other hand, is a showcase of human industry, with a large central command area and Warthog garage. Finally, there’s Crossfire, a map which looks like a virtual Spartan training area and features a slightly disorienting floor grid.

Team Slayer matches on the maps were just as awesome as you’d expect, with lots of hooting and hollering going on throughout the game. That tone changed, however, once we got a taste of the new Breakout game. In Breakout, each player is given one life per round, with each team needing 5 rounds to win. It quickly became apparent that coordination and communication were paramount, as straying too far from your squad usually resulted in being picked off. It’s an intense new Halo multiplayer experience that we can’t wait to explore more.

Halo 5: Guardians mutiplayer features the addition of a booming pre-match voiceover that calls out key strategic locations on each map. It’s a great way for new players to get up to speed more quickly, as is the fact that nearby players will actually “call out” locations if they’re under fire or have the enemy pinned. Finally, there’s the weapon pad system, which shows where so-called “power weapons” like rocket launchers and sniper rifles will spawn and how much time is left on the countdown. It’s a great way to ensure regular and intense clashes as teams vie for control.

One of the coolest new features in Halo 5: Guardians is the Smart Scope, which provides a tight, sighted view with an overlay linked to your Spartan’s helmet. The Smart Scope gives each of your weapons a zoomed view, though there’s no difference in damage from the traditional hip firing. It’s a neat system that will give some added info on your target, but it’s not always ideal since you’ll be de-scoped if you’re hit by enemy fire. It’s another layer of strategy on top of an already highly strategic experience.

In the spirit of keeping the proverbial playing field as even as possible, the team at 343 is giving each player a variety of powerful tools to fit their needs. On the mobility front, Spartans now have unlimited sprint, though that comes with a big catch: your shield won’t recharge while you’re sprinting. This means that every time you take fire, you’ll need to quickly decide whether to take cover or run, adding a bit more critical thinking to the mix. You can also slide by crouching mid-sprint or clamber up to ledges or platforms with a tap of the A button.

Replacing the armor abilities seen in previous Halo multiplayer offerings, the Halo 5: Guardians Multiplayer Beta features a variety of thruster abilities. By tapping the B button while holding in a direction, you’ll be able to dodge from side to side or dash. While you’re running, pressing the melee button will perform a Spartan Charge. This will immediately knock down the shields of an enemy facing you, or kill them if hit in the back. There’s some risk to that reward, though, as you’ll be vulnerable for a moment if you miss.

For the truly bold, there’s the Ground Pound. After leaping or boosting into the air, you’ll be able to hold down the right stick to bring up a reticule on the ground. Once an enemy runs under you (and providing you don’t get shot out of the air), you’ll be able to smash down onto them, killing anyone you hit directly and stunning anyone nearby. Finally, the Smart Scope and the thruster abilities come together in an awesome way, as you can zoom with the left trigger while jumping or falling to hover in the air. This provides some temporary high ground, but leaves you vulnerable if you’re spotted. It’s a lot of fun, especially if you’re able to get the drop on a foe running around a blind corner.

Even though it’s still almost a year from its 2015 release, the Halo 5: Guardians Multiplayer Beta is proof positive that the future of Halo is brighter than ever. We’ll be bringing you more throughout the week here on Xbox Wire.

Halo Nation Celebrates the Xbox One Debut of the Master Chief - Tue, 11 Nov 2014 06:00:00 Z
Today, more than 13 years after the first Halo game launched in 2001 on the original Xbox, the legendary franchise has arrived on Xbox One with the worldwide release of Halo: The Master Chief Collection.

Leading up to the official launch of the title worldwide, Halo Nation came out in full force with more than one million people around the world tuning in to live streams previewing the game’s content, and hundreds of thousands of fans lining up at more than 4,300 midnight madness retail events around the world to get their hands on the highly anticipated

Halo has always been synonymous with Xbox,” said Head of Xbox Phil Spencer. “Halo: The Master Chief Collection’ allows us to thank our fans and celebrate with an amazing package that will introduce a new generation to the epic Halo universe.”

In early reviews, press have echoed the fan excitement in seeing Master Chief finally welcomed to the next gen. The Xbox One exclusive title has already been hailed as as “a stunning introduction to one of the most beloved series in video games”* and currently holds a 90 Metacritic score.

The historic arrival on Xbox One also prompted Twitter conversations around Halo to double since November 1 and the
Remaking the Legend: Halo 2 Anniversary, the documentary about the making of Halo 2 Anniversary is currently the most watched video on Xbox Video and has been trending since its debut on October 31.

To celebrate the launch, fans tuned into HaloFest – a livestream event broadcast on Xbox Live,, Twitch, YouTube and select global press sites. The three day event included the
Halo: Master Chief Collection Invitational Tournament where pro players from around the world battled it out for the chance to win $50,000 and the opportunity to be the first to play the Halo 5: Guardians Multiplayer Beta, set to arrive December 29.

On Monday night, HaloFest culminated with Halo fans from around the world joining Xbox and 343 Industries at the Avalon Theater in Los Angeles for an unforgettable night to celebrate the past, present and future of
Halo. The event world premiered the first two episodes of Halo: Nightfall and provided a first look at gameplay of the Halo 5: Guardians Multiplayer Beta.

To relive the excitement, fans can watch video on demand at

Photos from the event can be viewed on Xbox Wire and here.

Halo: The Master Chief Collection
is available worldwide today for $59.99 (ERP, USD). It is rated M for Mature and exclusively on Xbox One. Halo: The Master Chief Collection also includes Halo: Nightfall, the live-action digital series from Ridley Scott, David Zucker and Sergio Mimica-Gezzan, as well as access to the Halo 5: Guardians Multiplayer Beta, launching Dec. 29.

*Source: Polygon: Halo: The Master Chief Collection Review: The Library

Five Reasons We’re Excited for Halo: The Master Chief Collection - Mon, 10 Nov 2014 16:00:00 Z
Halo: The Master Chief Collection is a massive, feature-packed HD compilation, and it’s just about ready to fill your Xbox One with more Halo than you can shake a Gravity Hammer at. Check it: Here are just five reasons why you should be getting pumped for tomorrow’s release of The Master Chief Collection.

1) Switching between classic and updated visuals.

In both Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2: Anniversary, players can switch between the original graphics and the redone upgraded visuals for their respective 10th anniversary re-releases. Believe us, you’ll be swapping back and forth all through Halo 2, because the differences are, frankly, pretty mind-blowing. You can even switch between the original in-game cutscenes and the jaw-dropping new Blur cinematics for a real eye-opening treat. It’s clear that we’ve come a looooooong way in the last 10 years.

2) You get ALL the maps.

Halo: The Master Chief Collection offers multiplayer across all four games, all in one place. This means that you can jump from game to game in one multiplayer sitting. It’s not only an awesomely huge amount of content; it will keep even the best Halo players on their toes. There’s no denying that this is the definitive Halo multiplayer experience. We can’t wait to dive into the custom playlists designed by the folks at developer 343 Industries.

3) Oh hey – have some bigger and better maps, too!

As part of Halo 2: Anniversary, six amazing maps got a facelift. Even better, the changes aren’t just cosmetic, as each of the six maps will have an interactive element to help make them feel fresher than ever. For us, the star of the show is Bloodline, a remake of Halo 2’s Coagulation. It’s bigger, prettier, and full of new vehicles and weapons from the entire Halo series.

4) Play how you want.

Right out of the gate, you have access to every campaign in Halo: The Master Chief Collection. On top of that, the game uses curated playlists, so you can experience the perfect Halo campaign experience. Want to just play the vehicle missions? Don’t worry, you’re covered. You can also set your controls to remain the same across all four games or set it up in whatever way your Spartan-loving heart desires.

5) Get all up in that Halo 5: Guardians Multiplayer Beta!

We’re so freaking excited for the upcoming fifth installment in Master Chief’s saga that we can barely stand it, and we know you’re itching to get your hands on Halo 5: Guardians, too. Gamers who snag Halo: The Master Chief Collection guarantee that they’ll get early access to the multiplayer beta, starting onDecember 29!

Halo: The Master Chief Collection launches November 11, exclusively for Xbox One. Relive the experience – from the very start to finishing the fight!

What's New in Assassin's Creed Unity? - Mon, 10 Nov 2014 12:00:00 Z
Any new game in any series introduces new features of some sort or another. But the Assassin's Creed series has been particularly eager to add interesting new stuff to its already awesome mix, from Brotherhood's multiplayer to Black Flag's high-seas adventuring. And Assassin’s Creed Unity is no exception: Here are seven particularly interesting new features debuting this time around.


While previous games have included cooperative objectives in multiplayer mode, Unity folds co-op directly into the main campaign. You can join up to three friends in many story missions, including some designed specifically for co-op. Or you can just meet up and wander the streets of Paris together. But don't expect to see four identical Arnos leaping through the city, because Unity also now offers...

Custom Gear and Skills

Getting to choose your own weapons is nothing new to Assassin's Creed, but how about gearing yourself up with unique armor and skills? Skills allow you to customize your abilities in stealth, melee combat, ranged attacks, and health. And both armor and weapons have specific bonuses that allow you to enhance Arno to complement your own play style. Based on what we've seen, there's a pretty large assortment of gear to choose from, as well as a selection of color schemes to distinguish your Assassin from others.


Sure, a new setting is not unexpected in an Assassin's Creed game; what's different this time around is that Unity's version of Paris is very close to the scale of the actual city. A recent post on Ubisoft's in-house blog points out that "It’s the first in the franchise to feature an almost 1:1 scale (In previous games the buildings were roughly three-quarter size). That’s significant, because 'everything is bigger, larger, closer to real life,' says [Senior Producer Vincent] Pontbriand." In other words, to Arno, buildings look just as big as they would to you if you went to Paris in person. That's a lot of climbing space!


And Paris isn't just externally big; it's loaded with interior spaces, too. Other games in the series have featured interiors, of course, but they were specific, story-based areas that often required load times to access. Not so in Paris: While Arno can't explore inside every building, the game is loaded with interior spaces which can be entered and exited with no loading whatsoever. Just imagine the implications for the series' standard chest-collecting feature!

"Black Box" Assassinations

In previous Assassin's Creed games, key story assassinations tended to need a very specific approach. Not so here: you have the ability to take out your target on your terms, and in a variety of ways. These "black box" missions feature a variety of sub-objectives which can influence the outcome in a way that allows Arno to execute his target with a maximum of stealth and a minimum of risk. In one gameplay video, Ubisoft showed an assassination in Notre Dame, where Arno took out his target's contact, stole a set of keys from local thugs, and then took the contact's place in order to assassinate the target. But he could just as easily had picked a lock on a window and simply leaped down upon his victim, trusting his skills and smoke bombs to get him out safely.


Impressive groups of civilians have been a hallmark of Assassin's Creed since the beginning, when Altair wowed gamers by sidling through crowds on his way to assassinations. But Unity is reported to up the ante here by an order of magnitude: Crowds in Paris are expected to number in the thousands. “We want you to feel that density, the chaos that was happening back then,” said Pontbriand at the Ubi blog. “Paris was a huge city, with almost a million people. So we cranked up our number of non-player characters."

Historical Side Quests

Ubisoft has highlighted Unity's side quests as offering something new, too: Historical context. While all the Assassin's Creed games have been rooted in history, Unity is focusing its side quests on big names of the French Revolution, including Madame Toussaud, Dr. Joseph Ignace-Guillotin, and the Marquis de Sade. Along with these historical personages, Ubisoft says, you'll also have the opportunity to investigate cults and myths, and solve murder mysteries. We'll say that again: murder mysteries! How cool is that?

You'll get you chance to experience all of Assassin's Creed Unity's new features when the game hits Xbox One on November 11. Don’t have an Xbox One yet? The Xbox One Assassin’s Creed Unity bundle includes an Xbox One and a copy of Assassin’s Creed Unity, as well as a copy of the acclaimed Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag, so sneak over and grab yours now!

Xbox One November System Update: Personalize and Watch TV Like Never Before - Fri, 07 Nov 2014 21:00:00 Z
Our system updates have been an important part of the Xbox One experience in 2014. We have released hundreds of new features to Xbox One and Xbox One SmartGlass through 10 consecutive system updates within the first year, including a low battery indicator, the ability to initiate game downloads from a remote location, turn off notifications during video playback, external storage, and many more.

Today, we’re excited to begin rolling out the Xbox One November System Update, the last major system update of the year. Although we will not be putting out an update in December, we remain committed to continually improving Xbox One and will share more details early next year on what we have planned for 2015. In the meantime, we’d like to thank you for all your feedback – please keep it coming!

This month, we’re bringing you new ways to watch TV, personalize your Xbox One and interact with the Xbox Live gaming community We’ve got the full breakdown of features listed for you right here.

  • Show Who You Are We’re including some of the top fan requested features this month. Among them is the ability to customize the background on your Xbox One, show off your top achievements and share game clips in new ways.
    • Custom Backgrounds – For the first time, each account on your Xbox One can have a customized background. You can choose a custom color as a theme or achievement art as your background image and those will show on any Xbox One that you Sign In on with your account. Additionally, you can use the Media Player app to pick any JPG or PNG image off of a USB attached drive or a home media server that supports DLNA.  While viewing a picture/photo in full screen mode, press the Menu button and choose “Set as background” – your custom image is stored locally on that Xbox One console.
    • Gamer Profile – You can now share your location and bio as part of your profile. You can set these options on your Xbox One console and use Xbox One SmartGlass to browse to other people’s profiles and check out their showcase items. Additionally, you can now select a set of showcase items that are displayed when other gamers look at your profile on an Xbox One console. You can use Xbox One SmartGlass or Xbox One console to add or remove up to six game clips or achievements that will be displayed in a carousel format.
    • Tweet about your Favorite Game Clips – You can now share your favorite Xbox One game clips with your followers on Twitter. Use the Share button on any game clip you have created and select Twitter to compose the Tweet. 
  • A New Way to Watch TV – For the first time, you can discover new shows and see what people are saying about them in real-time with new Live TV and Twitter integration.
    • Live TV Trending – Xbox One owners in the U.S., Canada and the UK, will see a new “Trending” tab in OneGuide that displays the top 20 most watched TV shows, with the list filtered down to the shows that are currently available to you based on your OneGuide settings. The Live TV on Xbox trending list is updated by the minute, so you can easily discover shows that are popular with other viewers.
    • Twitter TV Trending – Additionally, if you are in the U.S., you’ll see what Live TV is trending based on the highest number of tweets. The Trending tab in OneGuide is updated to display Live TV on Twitter first and Live TV on Xbox trending second. You can tune to a specific show from either trending list by pressing the A button.
    • Tweets in MiniGuide – Also, initially available in the U.S., you will see the actual tweets for the Live TV shows in real time and quickly find the Twitter #hashtag to join the conversation.
    • Recents and Favorites in MiniGuide – MiniGuide has been updated to include your favorite TV channels in a combined Recents and Favorites area and MiniGuide can now be activated via voice by saying “Xbox Select – MiniGuide” while watching TV.
  • Store improvements and SmartGlass updates We’re introducing cool new features for SmartGlass and Store as well:
    • Xbox One Store improvements The Store pages on Xbox One have been improved to enable you to more quickly browse and find content. The navigation buttons are moved to the far left so you can find them easier. You can also more quickly find game add-ons, perform store specific searches and recommendations are more prominently displayed. Finally, store categories have been standardized so you can easily see the top items in each query at a glance.
    • Friends’ Game Activity on SmartGlass – You can now see a list of your friends that have played a given game within the Xbox One SmartGlass experience.
    • Games with Gold & Deals with Gold on SmartGlass – For gamers with an Xbox Live Gold subscription, you can browse “Free Games with Gold” and discounted content with Gold and initiate download of the content to your Xbox One console from your mobile device.
    • SmartGlass Store Improvements We added a new section for Apps to make it easier to find and download apps for your Xbox One, as well as adding a Coming Soon filter for Games and Add-ons to make it easier to see upcoming Xbox One releases sorted by anticipated release date.
  • Other Fan Requested Features:
    • Snap IE – From the Address Bar in Internet Explorer, you can now easily snap from a full screen experience and move Internet Explorer into snap mode.
    • IE Featured sites – Now, Internet Explorer will show a number when something is newly-added to featured sites. Newly-added sites will also display a badge (denoted by an asterisk (*) in the upper right corner) until you launch them or seven days have passed since the site was added to the Featured list. 
    • Restart now – If you want to restart your Xbox One console without getting out of your chair, you can now do it by going to Settings - Power & startup, and choosing “Restart now.”
    • Console update information – Under Settings – System – Console info,  you can now see the latest status (e.g. “update successful”) for Xbox One console updates, including date last updated and last automatic update check.

The Halo 2: Anniversary Original Soundtrack Launches Day-and-Date with Halo: The Master Chief Collection on Nov. 11 - Fri, 07 Nov 2014 12:00:00 Z
On Nov. 11, in tandem with the blockbuster launch of Halo: The Master Chief Collection, 343 Industries will continue the celebration of Halo 2’s 10th anniversary with the release of the Halo 2: Anniversary Original Soundtrack on CD, Vinyl, and Digital Audio.  

For the Halo 2: Anniversary Original Soundtrack, 343 Industries Senior Audio Director, Paul Lipson, accompanied by Lennie Moore, Tom Salta, Brian Trifton and Brian Lee White, partnered with Skywalker Sound to adapt and re-record the iconic Halo 2 score created by Martin O’Donnell and Michael Salvatori. In addition, the soundtrack also features new tracks from Periphery’s Misha Mansoor and guitar legend Steve Vai.

The Halo 2: Anniversary Original Soundtrack can be pre-ordered through the Apple iTunes store for $14.99.

Halo: The Master Chief Collection delivers the entire story of the Master Chief for the first time on one console, including a fully remastered Halo 2: Anniversary.  Featuring campaigns and every single multiplayer map from Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, Halo 2, Halo 3 and Halo 4, plus access to the live-action digital series Halo: Nightfall and the upcoming Halo 5: Guardians Multiplayer Beta, Halo: The Master Chief Collection offers the definitive Halo experience exclusively on Xbox One. 

We Want to Know Why You Play Games - Thu, 06 Nov 2014 18:00:00 Z
If you follow any of the Xbox social channels, or have friends who talk gaming on theirs, you may have noticed video game fans of all stripes using the #WhyIGame hashtag on Twitter, as well as their Facebook and Tumblr posts. We wanted to share all the many reasons why we game, but also get fans sharing not just what they like about games, but why they pursue this hobby with such passion. We were incredibly impressed at the range of posts and responses we saw tagged with #WhyIGame; we were especially fascinated by the many reasons people have for their love of games, and we wanted to share some with you.

Some folks are into video games because they're fun, and that's great! But many users of the #WhyIGame hashtag expressed their love of gaming as a medium of discovery or wonder. For example, Emi R. Tweeted: “I game to discover new worlds and new creative experiences.” Haley P. offered a similar sentiment, but a bit more personal: “I game because it’s a great way to experience several different lifestyles in one.” Gaming is a new literary and artistic form that allows people to be enveloped in the world and characters like no other, and it’s clear that – as with the literary forms of the past – fans of this medium relish the ability to enter into another reality while they’re at the controls.

Others used the #WhyIGame tag to express gaming’s importance as a stress reducer or relaxation space. Mike S. Tweeted that gaming: “[…]relieves stress from everyday life!” while Thomas Y. called it “a great way to wind down and relax.” #WhyIGame saw people discussing video games as a way to take breaks and refresh their minds at work, or an important refuge from the stresses that plague all of us in our daily lives. It’s clear that gaming is more than just a hobby to some; it’s a place we can go to put aside some of our lives’ difficulties, at least for a little while, and recharge our batteries.

One of the most common sentiments we got on the #WhyIGame tag was fans praising the social nature of their pastime. Gaming with friends, or making new friends while gaming, is a big deal to our community, and folks expressed that clearly. After seeing one PAX Prime attendee’s video attached to #WhyIGame, we concluded that “There’s a Player 2 out there for everyone! Probably.” Meanwhile Akaash G. offered simply: “I game for social networking. It’s time with my friends.” It’s worth remembering that, in our fast-paced, digital-delivery world, video games are places where anyone can go, from anywhere in the world, to make new friends. Video games can bring childhood friends who are living thousands of miles apart together for a night of fun, and they can add new friends to the mix, too.

So, why do you game? We want you to share your reasons for being in this wacky, wonderful, virtual world with us. Share your reasons out on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram using the #WhyIGame hashtag. We’re looking forward to hearing your unique perspective!

Why We're Loving Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare - Thu, 06 Nov 2014 17:00:00 Z
Now that Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare has finally dropped, we've had a chance to really spend a lot of quality time with the acclaimed shooter. And we've found lots of things to love. Lots. We'd love to list them all for you, but we're just a hair away from leveling up in multiplayer, and there's intel to be found yet in the campaign. So, since we'd rather be playing than writing about playing, you'll have to settle for only five!

1) The Exosuit

Advanced Warfare's powered exoskeletons are exactly the kind of game-changer they appear to be. Not only do they provide heroes and villains alike superhuman strength and the much-lauded boost jump, they also come with a whole suite of fantastic extras for the discerning soldier. Some models come equipped with on-demand riot shields; others have magnetic attachments in the gloves for scaling vertical surfaces; and one loadout even includes an absolutely spectacular cloaking feature.

2) All the Other Awesome Future Tech

The Exosuit isn't the only futuristic addition to earn the Advanced Warfare moniker, of course. Mitchell and company also have access to a whole lineup of seriously fantastic gear. Drones, grappling hooks, smart grenades, intelligent scopes, instant-lock homing rockets – there's even a mobile shield that can interface with your Exosuit and drop open a firing port the instant you start aiming. It's pretty much a smorgasbord of ridiculously cool technology designed to keep heroes alive... and bad guys, well, not.

3) Vehicles

The last few Call of Duty titles have shown off their chops with cinematic, edge-of-the-seat, action-movie-style vehicle sequences. Advanced Warfare is no different... well, except perhaps being even more awesome. In the course of the campaign, you'll race through future Detroit on hoverbikes, cruise through the man-made waterways of New Baghdad in a dive boat, and tear along the highway north of San Francisco in a heavily armored jeep. There's even a flying mission through a mountain trench reminiscent of the Death Star. And let's not forget about the segments where you're piloting an A.S.T. – basically, a super-powered version of the already super-powered Exosuit, complete with absolutely devastating on-board weaponry.

4) The Combat Readiness Program and the Firing Range

Of course, there are some fantastic new additions in multiplayer, too – and two of our favorites are specially designed to help newbies get up to speed without having to risk humiliation. The Combat Readiness Program throws you quickly into an intentionally casual game, where no player names are shared and some of your teammates and enemies might actually be bots. This complete anonymity allows you to explore Advanced Warfare's multiplayer maps and get familiar with all your new abilities, without having to endure the indignity of anyone else knowing just how bad you are. And the Firing Range allows you to instantly try out any custom loadout, meaning you'll never again have to discover you've made poor equipment decisions after the match starts.

5) Kevin Spacey

It's an unavoidable fact that some great film and TV actors don't do great voice work. Kevin Spacey is not one of those actors. From the moment he steps onto the screen as Jonathan Irons, he exudes every ounce of confidence, competence, and range you'd expect from an Oscar-winning actor. His arch, understated delivery, and obvious passion come through brilliantly thanks to an almost uncanny in-game likeness, and when things turn dark for Irons, Spacey's performance becomes positively chilling. The whole cast is fantastic, from voice work to performance capture, but Spacey – perhaps unsurprisingly – steals the show.

You can see these performances for yourself right now: Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is currently available on both Xbox One and Xbox 360.

Behind the Wizard’s Curtain with Magic 2015: Duels of the Planeswalkers - Thu, 06 Nov 2014 14:30:00 Z
Attention, strategy fans: Magic 2015: Duels of the Planeswalkers made its Xbox One debut this week, and it is the most complete digital Magic: The Gathering experience to date. We recently sat down with the game’s principal designer, Nik Davidson, to talk about what’s new in Magic 2015, and how the development team at Stainless Games went about bringing Magic’s collectible card game experience to the Xbox One for the first time.

Xbox Wire: What are a couple of the coolest rare and uncommon cards that are new to Magic 2015: Duels of the Planeswalkers?

Nik Davidson:
One of the best features of the Magic 2015 Core Set was the group of cards designed by some of the biggest names in gaming. One of my favorite rares in the set was Genesis Hydra, by George Fan of Plants vs. Zombies fame.

Garruk’s Revenge expansion brings with it some exciting cards from Magic’s Shards of Alara block, including game-changing mythic rares like Rafiq of the Many, and Maelstrom Archangel. The addition of new tri-lands will let people build new kinds of decks and archetypes, which should really shake up multiplayer. Some other favorites include Esperzoa, Rhox War Monk, and Obelisk of Alara.

Xbox Wire: How will matchmaking work over Xbox Live? Will players be able to face off against Xbox 360 players, or only other players on the Xbox One?

Nik Davidson:
Matchmaking over Xbox Live will be random within your platform. But you can also play against your friends. As you win matches in multiplayer, you earn more cards from the Battle Booster Collection.

Xbox Wire:
Will the "sealed play" feature (which was introduced in Magic 2014) make a reappearance here? How will players earn boosters and new cards?

Nik Davidson:
In Magic 2014: Duels of the Planeswalkers, sealed play gave players a sample of deck-building... whereas in Magic 2015: Duels of the Planeswalkers, the entirety of the game is focused on a complete deck-building experience. Winning games against the A.I. in any of the five planes of the campaign mode, or against others in multiplayer mode, will allow players to earn more boosters – and eventually all playable cards – for their collection.

Xbox Wire: Tell us a bit about the story and themes. Are there new Planeswalkers? Who are they, and what are they after?

Nik Davidson:
This is the most immersive Duels of the Planeswalkers experience we have created to date. Garruk Wildspeaker, the greatest hunter in the Multiverse, has been cursed by Liliana Vess and the Chain Veil. Now, the former beastmaster is becoming more corrupt and hunting down the ultimate quarry – his fellow Planeswalkers. You play as a Planeswalker enlisted by Avacyn to assist Garruk in breaking the curse, but you rapidly find that Garruk doesn't necessarily want to give up the powers that are corrupting him. Your mission is to stop him before it’s too late.

In the expansion, that storyline is flipped: In
Garruk’s Revenge, you play as Garruk, picking up the plot from the original video trailer. Playing with Garruk’s own deck, with each victory you notice that the deck becomes more and more corrupt – and more powerful. Featuring a boss battle against Vronos, the very fencer Garruk defeats in the trailer, it is an immersive experience that ties gameplay directly to storyline.

Xbox Wire: Give us your best tips for using some of Magic 2015’s new cards. What early strategies move well into late-round strategies?

Nik Davidson:
The initial decks that players start with are fairly low-powered, but offer a sense of the strategies and archetypes available. Players will find that the cards they earn in boosters will fit into those strategies, but generally improve the power level and options available to them.

Xbox Wire:
As usual, the card art is beautiful. How are card artists chosen, and how are the cards digitized into the Xbox One version?

Nik Davidson:
Magic is known for featuring the work of only the highest-quality fantasy artists. It is something our players and fans have come to appreciate. Our team of art directors is constantly looking to grow and expand that pool of artists, if the level of their work is up to our standard. It’s a high bar to hit, but it’s one of the most integral components of the game.

In translating that incredible art to a digital format, we use the highest resolution possible to take advantage of an HD platform like Xbox One. Tremendous care is taken to ensure that the digital representation of our cards is as close as possible to the real-world versions.

Xbox Wire: How was the decision to port Magic 2015 to Xbox One made? What key elements of the Xbox One user base make it well suited for a Magic: The Gathering game?

Nik Davidson: Delivering the game on Xbox One was an easy decision to make, but it’s one that we knew we had to get right. This is a discerning group of gamers, many of whom probably grew up playing Magic in a face-to-face setting. Xbox One players are looking for an immersive experience that takes full advantage of the technology in their hands. As the world’s best strategy game, Magic delivers on both a creative and game experience level.

Get in on the action, and download
Magic 2015: Duels of the Planeswalkers today on Xbox One and Xbox 360!

Grand Theft Auto V on Xbox One: Sharper, Faster, and Better Than Ever - Thu, 06 Nov 2014 01:00:00 Z
A little game called Grand Theft Auto V is coming to Xbox One next month – and when it does, it’ll look, play, and run better than it ever has before. For those who are diving in for the first time, GTA5 marks the series’ return to the city of Los Santos (read: Los Angeles) and its surrounding San Andreas sprawl. It’s the biggest GTA title to date, and ups the ante in terms of density to boot. An on top of that, Grand Theft Auto Online – the included online multiplayer mode, lets up to 30 players explore the open world and engage in cooperative or competitive matches.

For those new to the GTA5, some significant changes lay ahead. The first is Rockstar Games’ decision to put players in the shoes of not one, but three protagonists – and you can switch between them on-the-fly. In missions that involve all three characters, players gain a tactical edge, as they’re afforded three vantage points through which to see the action. Can’t get a clear shot at an enemy? Switch over to a second character and see how said enemy looks through the eyes of your comrade, who stands at point-blank range. In some instances, this multi-character approach allows for different ways of playing a given mission: In one scenario, for example, you can choose between sneaking onto a luxury yacht under the cover of another character’s sniper rifle, or instead take the sniper rifle in your own hands and clear a path.

And then there are the heists. At certain moments in the narrative, you're given a target to take down. Where in past GTA titles, this would come as part of a self-contained mission, here players have varied approaches in terms of how they tackle a score. It starts with a briefing that lays out all the options and lets you pick out crew members to assist on the job. Each member will take a percentage of the haul (which reflects how skilled they are at what they do), and the skills of these accessories to your crimes improve with each score. The Heists are loads of fun, and pay off in the form of cold, hard cash.

The remastered Xbox One version of GTA5 ups the graphical fidelity significantly, bringing the faux-SoCal game world to life like never before. And, in a first for the series, you can play from a first-person viewpoint – something that’s been made possible through the power of next-gen hardware. GTA5’s San Andreas has been fully rebuilt to take full advantage of this new first-person mode, resulting in the type of immersive, massively detailed experience that GTA fans have never seen before. Take a look at the video above for a closer look.

What’s more: Grand Theft Auto Online now supports up to 30 players, and the game’s 17 radio stations add over 100 additional new songs and DJ mixes. Players who pre-order the Xbox One version of the game will find a bunch of extra cash in their in-game bank accounts – to the tune of $500,000 for both the Story Mode and GTA Online, totaling a cool $1 million.

Finally, as previously announced, players who picked up GTA5 for Xbox 360 or PS3 will find that their Grand Theft Auto Online characters and progression can be transferred over to Grand Theft Auto V for Xbox One from that version of the game.

Don't Forget to Tune in for HaloFest this Weekend - Wed, 05 Nov 2014 14:08:00 Z
Just in case you haven't been keeping up to date: Halo: The Master Chief Collection launches exclusively for Xbox One on November 11. This amazing collection lets you experience (or re-experience!) the awesomeness of the four Halo games starring everyone’s favorite Spartan, with the fully remastered Halo 2: Anniversary (and its six reimagined multiplayer maps) as the star attraction. And, make no mistake, the Master Chief looks amazing on next-gen hardware. To see what we mean, check out this hot new launch trailer above!

We're just getting started, though. On November 8 and 9, we're holding the Halo: The Master Chief Collection Launch Invitational, where 32 of the world's best Halo players will compete for their share of a $50,000 prize pool in an epic eSports extravaganza, presented by ESL. The action starts at 2 p.m. PT on Saturday, November 8 – check it out at Halo's official Twitch channel to see just how good the professionals are. You’ll also learn more about the future of Halo eSports as we dive deeper into the recently announced Halo Championship Series.  

Once those festivities conclude, join us for HaloFest on November 10. This is the first place you'll get to see the Halo 5: Guardians Multiplayer Beta ahead of its December 29 launch, as well as the world premiere of episode one of the “Halo: Nightfall” digital series, and exclusive interviews with the minds behind Halo at 343 Industries and talent of “Halo: Nightfall.” Tune into HaloFest on Xbox Live,, on our official Twitch channel, or in select Microsoft Stores beginning at 8 p.m. PT on Monday, November 10.

We're excited to bring you so much awesome Halo stuff. So tune in, check out what we have in store, and then pick up your copy of Halo: The Master Chief Collection on November 11, exclusively for Xbox One!

343 Industries Announces the Halo Championship Series - Wed, 05 Nov 2014 09:00:00 Z
In anticipation of the release of Halo: The Master Chief Collection next week, 343 Industries is excited to announce the “Halo Championship Series”, the official eSports league that will celebrate the franchise’s rich competitive gaming legacy while building an all-new platform for the future of Halo eSports.

The “
Halo Championship Series”, or HCS, was born of 343 Industries’ desire to curate a quality eSports experience – for pro players, enthusiasts, and spectators – by creating a single sanctioning body for Halo. Designed to foster the best environment and platform for competitive multiplayer, the HCS will showcase, sponsor and support existing tournament organizers in the growing landscape of eSports today. To help fulfill this ambition, 343 Industries has teamed up with Twitch, ESL, and various tournament organizers to create a year of high-stakes action featuring Halo 2: Anniversary, the newly reimagined multiplayer engine within Halo: The Master Chief Collection.

Halo Championship Series Details:

  • The first season of the Halo Championship Series will kick off shortly after the launch of Halo: The Master Chief Collection, and run from November (preseason) through March of 2015.
  • Teams of four Spartans will compete in a structured series of online and in-person LAN events.
  • All officially sanctioned tournaments (LAN and online) will award HCS points to the top teams.
  • At the end of each season, teams with the highest HCS point totals will be invited to compete at the HCS season finals in March 2015. More details to be announced.

Halo was one of the first console eSports titles to rise to popularity a decade ago,” said Che Chou, Franchise Media Director, 343 Industries. “With the HCS, we’re harnessing that passion and investing back into the community that’s still vibrant today. In addition, our partnerships with ESL and Twitch – both parties with years of invaluable expertise – will help us realize our vision of quality and equality for the HCS.”

"This is a significant moment for both the huge Halo community on Twitch and the game’s overall fanbase,” said Ernest Le, Director of Publisher & Developer Partnerships, Twitch. “Partnering with 343 on the Halo Championship Series allows us to invest in the players and tournament organizers. We can then build on that foundation to benefit Halo fans worldwide."

Halo is one of the most storied franchises in gaming and has such a rich eSports legacy,” said Craig Levine, Vice President, ESL America.  “ESL brings a proven track record of hosting world class competitions and broadcasts and are excited to be an official partner of the Halo Championship Series. In 2015, the HCS will crown a new generation of Halo champions and showcase Halo to millions of eSports fans around the world.”

Players and fans can see an overview of league information at Halo Waypoint. Within the coming weeks, 343 Industries will publish the official rules handbook of the HCS, and players will also be able to register their teams and begin competing online in the official ESL HCS league, view their global Halo rankings, and more.

343 Industries will be sharing more details about the Halo Championship Series at the Halo: The Master Chief Collection Launch Invitational tournament, taking place this Saturday, November 8 and Sunday November 9, where 32 of the world’s biggest names in FPS eSports will be facing off for their share of $50,000 to celebrate the launch of Halo: The Master Chief Collection. It all starts on Saturday, November 8th – tune into at 2PM PDT to catch the action and learn more about what’s ahead for eSports and the Halo Championship Series.

Hundreds of New Features Delivered in Xbox One’s First Year - Wed, 05 Nov 2014 06:00:00 Z
Later this month marks the one year anniversary of Xbox One. As we look back on the year, one of the best marks of progress for Xbox One has been our commitment to delivering continuous innovation. When Xbox One launched, we said we were deeply committed to our fans and our ongoing service updates have delivered hundreds of new features throughout the year. In fact, we launched a new website, Xbox Feedback, to enable us to hear from you directly and let you vote for your favorite ideas. We received thousands of new feature recommendations and more than three quarters of a million votes this past year, and your feedback played a huge role in shaping new experiences on Xbox One. Keep them coming! 

Here are some of the most popular new features added this past year, but also check out a recap of the full list of previously announced new features below. You may find a few surprises to help you make the most of your Xbox One. And rest assured, our commitment to continuous innovation remains strong.


  • Custom backgrounds. The #1 fan-requested feature, each account on your Xbox One can have a customized background. You can choose a custom color or achievement art as your background on Xbox One, with more customization options coming down the road, like personalized images from the media browser app.
  • Take system updates when you want. Take system updates as soon as they’re available if you prefer. When the system update is made available, you’ll find the option under Settings, then select System update.

New Friends, Activities and Achievements

  • New Friends section. See at a glance what’s going on with your friends. You can stay up-to-date with your current activities, the most popular games your friends are playing, and a Gamerscore leaderboard to see who has improved their Gamerscore over the last 30 days.
  • Activity feed updates. We added new ways for you to interact with friends in the activity feed. The interface changed to a single column scrolling list that is longer and includes more content. We added the ability to post text to your feed, and to “like” and comment on feed items. You can share game clips and anything else in the feed with friends either publically (to your activity feed) or privately (as an attachment to a message). You are also notified when anyone likes, comments on or shares your items. Each person gets a personal feed on their profile, so you can see what specific friends have been up to. And, with SmartGlass, you can see what your friends have shared to their activity feed and “like” specific posts.
  • A New Achievements App. Updated to enable sharing of achievements you've unlocked with captions, see a list of friends who have unlocked specific achievements, and an updated achievements Snap landing page that shows Achievements on recently played games, when a gamer is not actively playing a game.
  • Snap updates. We updated the Snap Center to include quick access to many of the things you wanted faster access to when playing a game – Friends, Messages, Achievements, Game DVR, clock, and battery indicator – as well as making it easier to close and open new snap apps when playing a game. A double tap of the Xbox button on your controller brings up a menu that allows you to open a new app in snap mode, close the current snapped app, or switch focus between your game and your running snapped app.

Second Screen and Accessories

  • Mobile purchase. Using Xbox SmartGlass or on, you can remotely purchase games and Add-on content. No more waiting to begin downloading when you get home – if your console is set to automatically take updates, your console will begin downloading your purchase. And, you can also get Games with Gold and Deals with Gold on SmartGlass, so you can download free games wherever you are to your console.
  • Battery power indicator. We brought back the battery power indicator so that you can see right on the home screen how much juice is left in your controller’s battery. You will also get an on-screen notification when your controller battery is getting low.

System and Game Updates

  • Silent reboot after system updates and system update on demand. If your console is in Instant On mode, the update will happen automatically and return to standby upon completion. This means you won’t need to power on your console after an update moving forward. If you want to take future updates when available without waiting for your console to do it on its own, this option is under system settings. It will only show as available when there is an update to take.
  • Game and app saves and updates. A game save progress bar will show you the status of your game saves. You can easily tell what games and apps are being updated or have been updated recently.

More Ways to Experience Entertainment

  • Boot to TV. You can set your console to boot directly to television when coming out of connected standby. 
  • Media Player, DLNA, and MKV support (and more!). A newly added Media Player app supports DLNA streaming so you can easily access and play music, watch photo slideshows or movies stored on home media servers and devices that support the DLNA server protocols. Additionally, you can playback tons of files – including MKV – stored on a USB device or a device on your home network that supports DLNA streaming.
  • Xbox One Digital TV Tuner and Steam TV to SmartGlass. This USB-attached TV Tuner, available in UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain, enables you to watch TV on Xbox One, and pause Live TV for up to 30 minutes. If you have an Xbox One Digital TV Tuner, you can stream TV across your home network to your smartphone or tablet using the Xbox SmartGlass app. You can also pause, play, rewind and change channels, without interrupting gameplay.
  • TV Discovery Made More Social. New features were introduced for social discovery on TV, including Live TV Trending, Twitter TV Trending, Xbox TV Trending, and Tweets in MiniGuide.


  • Sound mixer for apps with Snap and volume controls when using Kinect with chat. With the Sound mixer, you can control the volume levels of two apps when you’re using Snap letting you decide which app is louder. In this same section, you can control the volume levels when you’re using Kinect for chat.

Here is a more comprehensive list of the more than 100 new updates we announced details on this year, in addition to the hundreds of additional updates made behind-the-scenes to make Xbox One even better this year:

February Updates

1.    See and manage your storage space
2.    Control your install lineup and more easily manage your download queue
3.    Separate My Games and My Apps lists so you can easily create separate queues for both
4.    Track how much battery life is left on your controller
5.    Support for your USB keyboard with your Xbox One

March Updates

6.    Friends list moved to front and center on the homepage of the Friends app
7.    Party chat turns on by default
8.    Chat with friends playing different games
9.    “Invite friends to game” option available in your multiplayer titles
10.    See a list of “Recent Players” 
11.    Twitch live streaming support
12.    Optical out supports 5.1 Dolby Digital
13.    Support for Dolby Digital surround sound over HDMI
14.    Support for 50Hz output for TV
15.    Tailor the number of volume up/down adjustments
16.    SmartGlass updates: Receive notifications of Xbox Live messages, check out what your friends are doing, see their latest highlight clips, and unsnap apps with SmartGlass
17.    Support for new Xbox One accessories: Xbox One Stereo Headset and Adapter, Xbox One Media Remote, and third party headsets
18.    Browser improvements: Direct link to IE, new gesture and controller features for Bing and Google maps, and search improvements
19.    IR blasting of power and volume to TVs/AVRs for all regions
20.    Easy sound bar setup
21.    View Game Clips in Snap mode
22.    Passkey feature to protect user settings

April Updates

23.    Support for 50Hzoutput for Blu-ray
24.    Controller and headset adaptor firmware updates that reduce audio static and improve wireless connectivity
25.    Silent reboot after system updates and system update on demand
26.    Improved GameDVR video quality through compression algorithm improvements
27.    Kinect voice and motion improvements for quality and reliability of Xbox One commands
28.    Game save progress bar shows the status of your game saves
29.    See what games and apps are being updated or have been updated recently
30.    Notifications to see when favorites and friends sign in to Xbox Live
31.    Friends who are in multiplayer are identified in the friends list

May Updates

32.    Sound Mixer for apps in Snap mode
33.    Volume control when using Kinect with chat
34.    Opt-in to help improve speech recognition
35.    Take the next system update when you want

June Updates

36.    External storage support
37.    The ability to add your real name
38.    OneGuide and Universal Remote Control added to SmartGlass
39.    Select an account for automatic sign-in
40.    For Xbox One owners in Canada and Europe, access to OneGuide and more TV, SmartGlass, and voice features
41.    Games with Gold & Deals with Gold
42.    All Xbox Live members can access popular gaming and entertainment apps without a Gold membership

July Updates

43.    Snap Mode for Achievements
44.    Double-tap to launch Snap Center
45.    Choice of spoken language in New Zealand, Ireland, and Austria
46.    Background updates for future digital bundles and compilation discs
47.    Ability to like GameDVR clips

August Updates

48.    Activity feed updates: New ways for you to interact with friends in the activity feed
49.    Mobile purchase from SmartGlass or
50.    Low battery notification
51.    Disable notifications during video
52.    Enabling 3D Blu-ray
53.    OneGuide in Brazil, Mexico, Austria and Ireland
54.    Last seen time in Friends list
55.    Pre-order and pre-download titles

September Updates

56.    Expanded Friends area on Home
57.    A new Media Player app for USB and DLNA playback
58.    Improved Party app with party leader settings
59.    New features for SmartGlass: Post status messages from the Activity Feed and comments, share items from both your Activity Feed and Game Clips, personalized Activity Feed added to your profile, threaded messages, record game clips directly from the Now Playing bar, What’s New page highlighting the features of each release
60.    “Xbox On” capabilities in Australia, Canada (French), Italy, Spain, Mexico and Brazil
61.    Boot directly to television when coming out of connected standby 
62.    Manage controllers and other accessories under Settings – Devices & Accessories
63.    Bandwidth Usage shows users how much bandwidth their Xbox One is consuming over a period of time
64.    Choose multiple GameDVR clips to delete at once in the Upload app
65.    Save Avatar Gamerpics to users’ OneDrive

October Updates

66.    Snap Center updated to include quick access to Friends, Messages, Achievements, Game DVR, clock and battery indicator
67.    Friends Snap App
68.    Messages Snap App
69.    Achievements App
70.    See a list of top games in your profile and your friend’s most popular games in the Friend's section of SmartGlass
71.    Improvements for TV and video
72.    Media Player DLNA and MKV support
73.    Live TV Trending based on your country and OneGuide settings
74.    USB-attached Xbox One Digital TV Tuner available in Europe (UK, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain)
75.    Stream TV to SmartGlass with the Xbox One Digital TV Tuner
76.    Live TV MiniGuide for markets where OneGuide is available
77.    OneGuide in 12 new countries 
78.    Apps with live TV channels include their TV listings within OneGuide and other Xbox TV features work with these apps
79.    Universal remote control in SmartGlass
80.    Live TV initial setup experience
81.    Live TV cable & satellite box auto-detection
82.    Updated Devices & Accessories page
83.    Firmware updates
84.    Find my Controller to easily find (or identify) a controller by making it vibrate
85.    Hide Games & Apps on your console
86.    Password resets and added protection made easier

November Updates

87.    Custom backgrounds
88.    Share your location and bio as part of your profile and select a set of showcase items that are displayed
89.    Tweet about your favorite game clips
90.    Live TV Trending
91.    Twitter TV Trending
92.    Xbox TV Trending
93.    Tweets in MiniGuide
94.    Recents and Favorites in MiniGuide
95.    Store pages on Xbox One improved to quickly browse and find content
96.    Friends’ game activity on SmartGlass
97.    Games with Gold & Deals with Gold on SmartGlass 
98.    SmartGlass Store improved to easily find and download apps for your Xbox One, and a Coming Soon filter for Games and Add Ons
99.    Easily snap from a full screen experience and move Internet Explorer into snap mode
100.    Internet Explorer featured sites
101.    My Stats shared in Preview dashboard
102.    Leaderboard added that shows how you stack up against your friends 

We can’t thank you enough for your continued feedback and working with us to make Xbox One even better.

More Ways, More Reasons to love Upload on Xbox - Tue, 04 Nov 2014 11:35:00 Z
Upload brings you the best of Xbox One, by gamers, for gamers, and you’re going to love what we have in store for you this month. We’re excited to take Upload beyond Xbox One and bring it to the Web and Xbox 360. And we’re thrilled to add exclusive clips from Node, the gaming channel created by Freddie Wong and Brandon Laatsch, available first on Upload.

Fresh, funny and coming first to Upload
The Node team is about to take gaming to a whole new level in the coming weeks on Upload. Tune in for hilarious and do-not-try-this-at-home stunts, plus Node’s inimitable LAN Parties and Let’s Plays for some of your favorite Xbox One games, and much more - all available first on Upload. We’ve got a lot in store with these guys and they’re just getting started! Be sure to tune into Upload in the coming months for new content rolling weekly. 

More Upload viewing in more places
There are also more ways to view the content on Upload within as well as a viewing app on Xbox 360 dedicated to the best Upload clips.

  • – You can already view your own clips from any game via your profile page on, but now a brand new Upload section at will give everyone the ability to access the best of Upload from anywhere.  You can view the best creators, the best featured content, and Official Upload coverage of new launches and events. It’s even easy to share clips with anyone you want by sending them the clip URL directly.
  • Upload on Xbox 360 – We’re excited to announce the launch of the Upload 360 viewing app. Upload 360 lets you view some of the best Upload clips including featured content from exclusive Xbox One titles such as Sunset Overdrive and Forza Horizon 2.

We’re always looking for more ways to bring you the features you want, so stay tuned for more updates!

Games with Gold: Volgarr the Viking - Tue, 04 Nov 2014 11:30:00 Z
Do you find yourself looking fondly back at the “old days” of gaming? Do you sometimes wish there were no health bars, and death came more swiftly to noobs? Do you ask yourself: “Who needs HD, when we could have stunning 16-bit pixel art?” If so, then your prayers to Odin have been answered with Volgarr the Viking – an old-school, heavily challenging, tremendously fun action-platformer. And it’s completely free this month on Games with Gold.

The titular Volgarr is a beard-sporting, sword-swinging, spear-throwing badass with a penchant for killing undead and cutting huge bosses down to size. You start off with a helmet and a shield, which can block projectiles – but take a direct hit, and you lose your protection. One more hit, and you’re dead. So, you can’t just go in guns (or swords) blazing; you’ve got to pick your battles, lure out the easy enemies, and use the environment to your advantage. Learning enemy movement and attack patterns helps, but so does discovering secret areas and power-ups.
Volgarr the Viking is as much about discovery as it is about chopping baddies into julienned slices.

And there’s more than just combat to contend with. Clever level design is part and parcel of
Volgarr the Viking’s gameplay, so you’ll want to suss out alternate pathways to give yourself an advantage when you can. Boss fights, too, require you to think: Some bosses are impossible to beat without clever use of your spears or, more often, your brain. Moreover, platforming puzzles abound in Volgarr the Viking, so traversing a level is about more than just holding the stick to the right – timing, memorization, and yes, trial and error play their parts, so get ready for a powerful sense of victory when you finally get through a tough area. After all, that’s what old-school gaming is all about: that elusive sense of “I did it!” when you take down a tough run. That’s where Volgarr the Viking really shines.

It helps that
Volgarr the Viking also looks and sounds fantastic, with a pixel-perfect recreation of the graphics of the 1990s, along with a pulse-pumping soundtrack and classic sound effects. The controls, too, are tight and responsive, which is critical for a game where perfect timing is absolutely necessary.

But make no mistake... challenge is front and center in
Volgarr the Viking. Snappy controls will help you, but there’s no way to save your game at all, so every time you start the game, you have to make a new run at it. That means that Volgarr the Viking requires an iterative approach to gameplay: each time you play, you get a little further, then take a break, and start over, until you’ve mastered the game completely. It’s a decidedly old-school approach to games that fans of classic platformers will definitely appreciate.

So, are you ready for a journey back to the old days, when men were men, and there were no helpful social media sites to get you through the hard parts of the game you’re playing?
Volgarr the Viking will take you there, and you won’t have to pay a dime to download it as part of Games with Gold in November. Happy slashing!

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare – The EXO - Tue, 04 Nov 2014 11:00:00 Z
As its title suggests, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is the most future-forward entry in the series to date. In fact, the action is so tech-centric that it treads well into a science-fiction scenario – albeit one that becomes more plausible every day. Powerful exoskeletons augment and improve every aspect of a soldier’s abilities; enhanced player movement and verticality come in the form of boost jumps and grappling, along with covert cloaking abilities and plenty more. Here’s a look at some of the more impressive tools in your exosuit arsenal.

The Exo Boost Jump introduces a new vertical dimension to the Call of Duty experience, letting you hover and float to get the jump on an enemy. The accompanying Boost Slide and Boost Dodge let you avoid gunfire better than any mere mortal, as does the Boost Dash, which lets you perform maneuvers in all directions while midair. All of these disparate moves can be chained together for some pretty remarkable combos, and can be topped off with a Boost Slam – an air-to-ground melee attack that enables you to crash down onto enemies and kill them with the impact. When it's enhanced with the Overcharged perk, the Boost Slam will shock nearby enemies on impact.

The Exo Shield is essentially the most portable riot shield ever invented. It allows you to deploy a transparent – but nearly indestructible – shield to protect against enemy attacks for a limited period of time.

Stealth becomes a better option with your exosuit as well. Exo Cloak enables you to go transparent and get your enemies when they least expect it, for instance. Exo Mute reduces your character’s movement sound, similar to the effects of the Dead Silence perk from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.

And don’t think for a second that they wouldn’t weaponize it: the Exo Launcher is a wrist-mounted launcher that can shoot a range of smoke, Semtex, frag and EMP grenades for fun and profit. Meanwhile, the Exo Trophy System can deflect up to two incoming enemy projectiles; it functions passively, and automatically destroys projectiles when they're in proximity.

Finally, note that all of these abilities are enhanced with Exo Overcharge, which gives your exoskeleton a larger battery supply, so that all of these exo abilities can be used longer. Because like our phones, laptops, and all manner of wearable tech, a gadget is nothing without battery power.

But don't just take our word for it – check it all out for yourself in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, available now for Xbox One and Xbox 360!

Limited Edition Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Bundle for Xbox One Available - Tue, 04 Nov 2014 10:00:00 Z
The holiday keeps getting better for Xbox fans. The Xbox One Limited Edition Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Bundle for $449* ERP is now available and the special savings of $50 off all Xbox One consoles in the US applies. The Xbox One Limited Edition Call of Duty: Advance Warfare bundle features a 1TB hard drive, custom console, custom controller and Limited Edition exoskeleton, plus a digital copy of the Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Day Zero Edition.

You can learn more about the custom console design in this Making Of video.

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

More Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare coverage here:
Power Changes Everything in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
Diving Deeper into the Multiplayer of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Leaps into Action with Futuristic Combat
The Sound and the Fury of Call of Duty Advanced Warfare
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare from Sledgehammer Games Announced

*$50 off any Xbox One console or bundle. Offer valid November 2, 2014 through January 3, 2015 at participating retailers.

Forza Horizon 2 Falken Car Pack Now Available - Tue, 04 Nov 2014 06:00:00 Z
Whether you like your cars with curves resembling something straight out of a Degas painting or you want something more straight-laced, the Falken Car Pack for Forza Horizon 2 on Xbox One has something for you. Available today for $5 in the Xbox Live store, the Falken Car Pack features six cars for Forza Horizon 2 that are waiting to be customized and sent out to the highways and byways of southern Europe.

For the modern sports car lover the new Alfa Romeo 4C and BMW M4 await. Are you looking to shred tires at an alarming rate? The Chevy SS is a Hoonigan in sheep’s clothing. If time travel is your thing, take a trip back and feel the rumble of the Lamborghini Jalpa or that most European of JDM classics, the Toyota 2000GT.

Also available today for free for all Xbox One players is the classic 1990 Subaru Legacy RS, which will release alongside the Falken Car Pack for
Forza Horizon 2.

Check out the trailer and see what these cars are capable of.

2014 Alfa Romeo 4C
At long last, an Alfa that’s available in the U.S. No, you are not dreaming, it has happened; a sporting Alfa Romeo will be sold in the States. The 4C has everything needed for spirited driving and even a few creature comforts. First off, the form, which has been met with near universal praise from fans and critics alike. As with any sports car built by Italians, the looks are only the icing; it’s the cake that is really tasty: a carbon-fiber tub between twin aluminum sub-frames, and a rip-roaring turbo-charged four-cylinder with enough gusto to give anyone a permanent grin. The engine is behind the cabin, where it should be. The resulting driving experience is visceral, and will have you wishing for the next off-camber corner. Thank you Alfa, we needed that!

2014 BMW M4 Coupe
Is it sacrilege to put a turbo in an M-class car? What about twin-turbos? Sins aside, the new twin-turbo inline six (replacing the naturally-aspirated V8 of last year’s M3) is a spectacular performer. Power delivery comes on strong and early and encourages short shifting, versus the tradition of wringing power out of the top end of M-model cars. That doesn’t mean you can’t rev the bejeezus out of the M4; it just means you don’t have to. BMW says the smaller, lighter motor enhances handling, and this would be hard to argue with since the new M4 is grippy, it transitions like a trooper, and it can still wag its tail if encouraged to do so. Natural selection is a fact of life and, thankfully in the case of the M4, the strong has survived.

2014 Chevrolet SS
The first rear-wheel-drive sedan in the Chevy line-up in 17 years is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. At a glance, the SS is a smart-looking four-door but, under the hood, is a V8 pushing out more than 400 horsepower. When given a nudge, it responds with a roar and will force you back into its plush seating as it hits 60 mph in less than five seconds. Enthusiasts have been begging for rear-wheel-drive models; Chevy listened and they got this one right. As you tour around the SS, its intents become more obvious, with a wide stance, plenty of rubber, and the two large exhaust pipes. The treat of the SS is that you have to look to figure out that this is a car designed for spirited driving. Once behind the wheel, everything makes sense. The gauges light up, you slam your right foot down, and the world gets much, much faster.

1988 Lamborghini Jalpa
It has been referred to as the baby Lambo, the smaller sibling to the legendary Countach. However, one look at the radical lines penned by Marcello Gandini may raise some eyebrows. After all very little about the Jalpa is small. In fact, the only thing that is smaller about the Jalpa (pronounced Hal-pah), is the transverse-mounted V8, opposed to the similarly-mounted V12 of the Countach. That smaller engine granted the Jalpa much better drivability, but sacrificed little in performance, with impressive 0-60 times and a conservatively stated top speed of 146 mph. Over its six-year production run, the Jalpa sold nearly 420 units, and was discontinued when Chrysler took over Lamborghini operations in 1988. While the Jalpa’s demise was tragic, its low production numbers make it a much-loved rarity among Lamborghini faithful.

1969 Toyota 2000GT
Rare, beautiful, and startlingly expensive, the 2000GT has all the attributes of a European supercar, but it’s not European at all. It’s a common myth that Count Albrecht von Goertz penned the coupe, it was actually Toyota designer Satoru Nozaki who created the 2000GT’s sharply creased lines – low and sporting, with classic long-hood/short-deck proportions. But if you’ve heard that Yamaha was involved in building the 2000GT, that’s not a myth. Starting with this car, Yamaha established a lasting relationship with Toyota handling engineering work for their high-performance engines. Yamaha designed the 2000GT’s 2-liter inline six’s DOHC head and carried out production of the car, all by hand, on a very limited scale. The beautiful woodwork on the dashboard is a prime example of the quality of construction, drawing on Yamaha’s experience crafting fine pianos. The performance potential of the engine was unleashed by none other than Carroll Shelby. It also gained some fame as James Bonds’ ride in the film “You Only Live Twice,” as a convertible (although Toyota never offered one from the factory). With very few ever built (less than 400), they’re still expensive, with even the shoddiest examples commanding six figure prices. If you think that’s too high a price to pay, you clearly haven’t heard the sound of that lusty six at full tilt –  worth the price of admission by itself.

1990 Subaru Legacy RS
Subaru brought new game to 1990 dealer showrooms, putting aside its smaller, quirkier wagons and sedans for the new Legacy line. These cars were much more substantial in size, quality, and amenities. The Legacy RS Turbo was the most powerful model and still has a strong following among Subie enthusiasts. Its off-road racing record is considerable and proved its endurance and ability to perform, and this was prior to Subaru’s dominance of the WRC. The highly desirable EJ20G engine later used in the WRX made more than 200 horsepower and provided a new level of performance. Subaru all-wheel drive keeps the Legacy RS steady and capable under any conditions on any surface.

The Forza Motorsport Experience Coming to the Nation’s Premier Car Museum - Mon, 03 Nov 2014 08:00:00 Z
One of the greatest automobile museums in the world is getting a Forza Motorsport makeover – and it promises to be the greatest car museum you've ever seen.

The Petersen, a Los Angeles landmark since 1994, houses more than 300 historically relevant cars and motorcycles, including everything from vintage vehicles from the dawn of automobiles, to famous cars used in some of your favorite Hollywood blockbusters. The museum is shutting down for a year for a massive remodel, and when it reopens,
Forza Motorsport will be a major part of it.

When the site reopens in 2015, it will also feature the
Forza Motorsport Experience. This integrated exhibit will focus on the influence of video games on car culture, and vice versa. You can plan on seeing simulators and gaming stations, along with some very immersive visuals.

The news was announced at the gala dinner late last month that was attended by a few lucky members of the Forza community, Forza representatives, as well as racing personality Tommy Kendall and Forza Ambassador Tanner Foust.

The Petersen Museum – with the Forza Motorsport Experience – is set to re-open in fall 2015. Learn more about the massive remodel efforts in
this video from the Peterson Automotive Museum.

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