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Halo: MCC Season 5 of content lands with new Halo 3 and Reach unlocks
by Pulasthi Ariyasinghe
Halo: The Master Chief Collection's journey to PC completed with the arrival of Halo 4 late last year, but 343 Industries isn't finished with updating the game across all platforms just yet. Today, the studio launched the fifth season of content for the multi-game collection, delivering a range of new cosmetic unlocks aimed at Halo 3 and Halo: Reach along with a lightweight MCC update.
Halo: MCC Season 5 is dubbed Anvil and its battle pass has 100 unique new items for customizing player armor, weapons, and nameplates. These include armor pieces from the Halo Online project finally being implemented to Halo 3 and the cut GRD helmet over to Halo: Reach. The timed seasonal challenges this time offer some interesting rewards as well, including the humorous 'Mister Chief' helmet.
The free battle pass requires Season Points for unlocking this content as usual, which can be earned from simply ranking up by playing any of the included Halo experiences, as well as completing challenges that refresh daily, weekly, and across seasons. Moreover, all content from battle passes remains a part of the collection even after a season ends, letting players go back and unlock content from previous rounds.
Today's Halo: MCC update is related to the cosmetic side as well. Players will now find a new toggle in the options menu for disabling or enabling the new skins being added to Halo 3, letting those who prefer the original experience keep it that way. The game already had a similar toggle set up for the new Halo: Combat Evolved skins.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection Season 5 Anvil is now available for all PC (Steam and Microsoft Store), Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S players. The size of the update will be around 258MB on Steam, 6.3GB on the Microsoft Store PC version, and up to 9.9GB for Xbox consoles.
By Steven P.
Xbox Deals with Gold feature Need for Speed Payback, Darksiders, and more
by Steven Parker
Every week, Microsoft and select publishers discount a number of titles for weekly Deals with Gold, Spotlight, and Publisher sales. This week, games from A Plague Tale, Need for Speed Payback, Darksiders and other franchises are available for substantially less.
Below, you'll find the Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox One, and Xbox 360 games with their respective discounts. Xbox Live Gold members receive additional discounts on a number of titles through the paid subscription which is denoted with an asterisk.
Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One
Many of the Xbox 360 games appear to be backward compatible so you'll be able to play them on your Xbox One and the Xbox Series X|S. Microsoft also included a bunch of Xbox One backward compatible titles so that they can be enjoyed on the Xbox Series X|S consoles.
Which titles are you interested in? Did you pick any up? Let us know in the comments below.
Cyberpunk 2077 gets its first major patch, brings stability improvements and bug fixes
by Anmol Mehrotra
CD Projekt Red (CDPR) has released the first major patch for Cyberpunk 2077. The new update brings the version to 1.1 and fixes a lot of issues. In a tweet, CDPR noted that this update “lays the groundwork” for future patches. Here is the full changelog for the update:
Apart from these, CDPR is also rolling out the following PC-specific changes including a fix for startup crashes on Nvidia GPUs. Here is the full changelog for the update:
Lastly, the update also brings fixes for PlayStation, Stadia, and Xbox specific issues. You can check the changelog for those below:
The new update is rolling out to PCs, PlayStation, Stadia, and Xbox users right now. Last week, CDPR shared the roadmap for Cyberpunk 2077 that included the details of the upcoming patches as well as a free DLC and a free upgrade for next-gen consoles.
By Rich Woods
Xbox Games with Gold for February include Gears 5 and more
by Rich Woods
Today, Microsoft announced the Games with Gold that Xbox Live Gold and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers will be able to claim for free during the month of February. Typically, this includes two Xbox One games and two Xbox 360 games that are playable via the Backward Compatibility program. This month, however, there are five free games, one of which is optimized for Xbox Series X|S, and that game is a big title: Gears 5.
Here's the full list:
Gears 5 (Xbox One, Optimized for Xbox Series X|S, February 1 -28)
Resident Evil (Xbox One, February 1 - 28)
Dandara: Trials of Fear Edition (Xbox One, February 16 - March 15)
Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb (Xbox, February 1 - 15)
Lost Planet 2 (Xbox 360, February 16 - 28)
As usual, it's also not too late to claim some of this month's Games with Gold. You can still claim Little Nightmares (Xbox One) and Breakdown (Xbox) until the end of the month, and Dead Rising (Xbox One) until February 15.
Microsoft Weekly: Writers of the lost art, a range of patches, and builds galore
by Florin Bodnarescu
This week brought the usual set of Patch Tuesday updates, a number of Insider previews, and a rather interesting announcement from MachineGames, the previously ZeniMax and now Microsoft / Xbox Game Studios subsidiary. You can find info about that, as well as much more below, in your Microsoft digest for the week of January 10 - 16.
Writers of the lost art
Back in September of last year, Microsoft announced that it was acquiring Bethesda’s parent company, ZeniMax Media in a deal worth $7.5B. As a result, there was an interview with two of the most well-known folks on the Bethesda side, Pete Hines and Todd Howard. What everybody seems to have missed was the range of Indiana Jones-related paraphernalia present behind Todd Howard. As it turns out, this was yet another, pretty clever hint at a game announcement which showed up this week.
Born as a partnership between the newly-(re)announced Lucasfilm Games and Bethesda subsidiary MachineGames is an upcoming “wholly original, standalone title” in the Indiana Jones series. Helmed by Todd Howard as the executive producer, the project is currently in its early stages. Needless to say, this may very well end up being an Xbox and PC platform exclusive, as Microsoft is preparing to close its ZeniMax acquisition this year.
In other gaming news, Dead Rising and Breakdown are now free to get if you have an Xbox Live Gold subscription, and for fans of the red and white combo, there’s now a Pulse Red variant of the latest Xbox Wireless Controller. It’s set to debut February 9 for $64.99. Folks in China however are already able to pick up the controller as of January 12.
A range of patches
Besides being the second full week of January, this week was also host to the second Tuesday of the month, which is usually when Microsoft releases a range of patches for all of its supported operating systems. If you’re on Windows 10, these are:
May 2020 Update / October 2020 Update (2004 / 20H2): KB4598242, builds 19041.746 / 19042.746 – includes a number of security updates for scenarios when you need to use external devices, as well as for basic Windows operations. Known issues: The same user certificate known issue appears in this build, as does a bug with the Japanese IME and Furigana characters. November 2019 Update (1909): KB4598229, build 18363.1316 – very similar changelog to the updates above, with the mention that this also includes security updates for Office products. Another thing worth mentioning is that this update isn’t coming to the May 2019 Update (1903), as support for it ended last month. Known issue: This update only contains the user certificate known issue from the known issues list above. October 2018 Update (1809): KB4598230, build 17763.1697 – supported for Enterprise and Education SKUs. April 2018 Update (1803): KB4598245, build 17134.1967 – supported for Enterprise and Education SKUs. Creators Update (1703): KB4599208, build 15063.2614 – supported for Surface Hub only. Anniversary Update (1607): KB4598243, build 14393.4169 – supported in the Long-Term Servicing Branch. Windows 10 RTM (1507): KB4598231, build 10240.18818 – supported in the Long-Term Servicing Branch. Naturally, as Windows 7 and 8.1 are still supported, those operating systems got updates too. Curious folks, here’s what you need to look out for:
Windows 8.1: KB4598285, KB4598275 (security-only) – the monthly rollup which includes some security enhancements for the Printer RPC authentication, and has the same CSV error that’s been plaguing this OS for a while. Windows 7: KB4598279, KB4598289 (security-only) – very similar changelog to the monthly rollup for Windows 8.1, even down to the known issue. Keep in mind that the Windows 7 updates are only received by business who pay for these extended security updates (ESUs), the price of which is set to double soon.
We obviously couldn’t have ignored the fact that Microsoft also likes to put out Insider builds for just about everything under the sun.
As such, the company released Edge Dev 89.0.760.0, which brings the Password Monitor feature to those on macOS, as well as a Fluent Design icon refresh for Teams Public Preview testers.
Speaking of refreshes, the company is gearing up to release a major UI overhaul of Windows 10, due for release in the second half of 2021. Referred to via the umbrella term Sun Valley, it’ll include changes to the Start Menu, taskbar, Action Center, built-in apps and other features, seeking to add more of those ever-pervasive rounded corners.
We’ve seen some of that with Windows 10X which was revealed in October of 2019. Since then, the company has been radio silent on it, going as far as to just not release the flagship product that would showcase this OS, the Surface Neo. For those curious to see how the operating system functions, a near-final build has leaked online, and we have a hands-on video with it.
Moving on to other bits of software that the company actually wanted to release, build 21292 of Windows 10 made its way to the Dev channel, including fixes for the news and interests feature that debuted in build 21286. There are of course other fixes included, but the known issues list is about as long as the fixes list, so have a gander at it if you’re curious before installing this build.
This same week, Microsoft also released 21292.1010, a cumulative update to the build above that’s meant to test the servicing pipeline. If you use x64 emulation on ARM PCs, the update does break this feature.
Finally, there’s also the Server Insider build 20282, which once again is missing its companion blog post. It’s possible there’s just nothing new in this build, which is why the company didn’t bother releasing a post about it.
Microsoft has released the Surface Pro 7+, with Tiger Lake, 4G LTE, and a removable SSD. More features are now rolling out to Yammer, including the ability to created posts, questions and polls on Yammer directly from SharePoint pages. Planner on the web now allows you to add image backgrounds to each plan. The OneDrive file size limit has now been increased to 250GB. Cloud for Retail, and Dynamics 365 Commerce updates are now available. Microsoft Forms now has features meant to streamline the access to and distribution of forms. An approval request app is now rolling out for Teams. Apple is allegedly testing the Music and Podcasts apps for the Microsoft Store. Logging off
We end the column with a couple of Microsoft departures.
First in line is Brad Anderson, Corporate VP of Commercial Management Experiences. Following a tenure of more than 17 years at the company, the exec will be joining Zig Serafin’s Qualtrics firm as President of Products and Services. Serafin is another 17-year veteran of the Redmond giant, who was joined by former Chief Experience Officer Julie Larson-Green in 2017. As for Anderson, he joined Microsoft back in 2003 from Novell, first as GM of SCCM (System Center Configuration Manager), then as Corporate VP in some capacity since 2007.
The second departure this week is Julia White, who’s been with the company for the last two decades. In her now former role at Microsoft, White was a Corporate VP of Product marketing for Azure, Dev Tools, and Server. She will be joining SAP as Chief Marketing Officer and Solutions Officer. Julia White started as a PM for the Server division in 2001, and has been in the current role for the last five years.
Missed any of the previous columns? Be sure to have a look right here.