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The meme is real: Xbox Mini Fridge, launching holiday 2021
by Florin Bodnarescu
Back when Microsoft unveiled the Series X at The Game Awards in 2019, some said it looked like a fridge. The monolithic design in fact spawned several memes, and the company gave in, creating a real-life Series X fridge, which it sent to influencers.
Some folks expressed their wish for a smaller, mini fridge form factor of the meme, to which Aaron Greenberg, Xbox's GM of Marketing, responded:
Unsurprisingly, Xbox won the voting poll on Twitter and, true to the promise, to cap off today's Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase, Microsoft unveiled a small surprise: the Xbox Mini Fridge.
Powered by the latest in cooling architecture - not to be confused with the Velocity Architecture -, the little appliance mimics the design of its console counterpart, down to the green design of the cooling holes at the top.
The Xbox Mini Fridge is launching holiday 2021 for an as of yet undisclosed price. This will probably come day one to Game Pass as well.
S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chernobyl lands April 28, 2022, gameplay trailer released
by Florin Bodnarescu
It was March of last year when developer GSC Game World shared the first in-engine screenshot of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2, its first foray into this world since 2010's S.TA.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat. Then, during last year's Xbox Games Showcase in July, we saw an in-engine trailer for the game. Now, the developer has offered folks an official gameplay look (see above) at the upcoming title, as well as a release date.
The sequel to the first trilogy of games, now dubbed S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chernobyl, is described as such:
via S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 Beyond the details above, the developer has also released the minimum, as well as recommended system requirements. They are:
Minimum system requirements Recommended system requirements OS Windows 10 (no version specified) CPU AMD Ryzen 5 1600X / Intel Core i5-7600K AMD Ryzen 7 3700X / Intel Core i7-9700K RAM 8GB 16GB GPU AMD Radeon RX 580 8GB / NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 6GB
AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT 8GB / NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 SUPER 8GB / NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti 11GB Storage 150GB S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chernobyl is coming April 28, 2022 to Steam, Epic Games Store, Xbox Series X|S, and will also launch day one in Game Pass.
It's available in a number of variants, with the digital versions coming in Standard ($59.99), Deluxe ($79.99), and Ultimate ($109.99) flavors.
The retails variants come in Standard ($59.99), Limited ($79.99), Collector's ($179.99) and Ultimate ($339.99) flavors, the latter of which contains an Artefact Container Lamp and S.T.A.L.K.E.R. backpack, beyond the artbook and Stalker figurine present in the Collector's edition.
Forza Horizon 5 announced, coming November 9 to Steam, Xbox, and Game Pass
by Florin Bodnarescu
During its E3 Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase event, Microsoft showed off a number of titles, including a closer look at Starfiled (launching in 2022), and the Sea of Thieves - Pirates of the Caribbean cross-over landing later this month. What the firm also showed was a look at and release date for Forza Horizon 5.
Horizon 5 - which takes place in Mexico - is described as such by the developers:
Beyond the usual Horizon festival and other story missions, as well as the return of dynamic seasons from Horizon 4, the new title will also feature something called Horizon Arcade. In this mode you can team up with friends to complete over-the-top challenges, with the game also offering something called EventLab. This is essentially a custom map / event creator, allowing folks to create their own custom stages.
The map itself features eleven biomes, all of which are of course influenced by the aforementioned dynamic weather system introduced in this game's predecessor. You can see a gameplay demo below:
Forza Horizon 5 is coming November 9 to Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S via the Microsoft Store, Steam, and Game Pass - being cloud gaming enabled as well. The game will target 4K 30FPS on Series X, 1080p 30FPS on Series S, and will have an optional 60FPS performance mode.
The game is priced at $59.99 for the Standard Edition, $79.99 for the Deluxe Edition, and $99.99 for the Premium Edition. The Premium Add-Ons Bundle is also available separately for $49.99 and gives you early access to the game, to be able to play as early as November 5.
By Abhay V
Flight Simulator heads to Xbox Series X|S on July 27, pre-orders open now
by Abhay Venkatesh
Microsoft is holding its Xbox and Bethesda Games Showcase at E3 today where it is showing off a bunch of exclusive titles coming to the Xbox platform, including the likes of Starfield and more. Among the announcements was also the much-anticipated release date for the launch of Flight Simulator on Xbox Series X|S. That date is July 27, and unsurprisingly, the game will be included with Xbox Game Pass.
Flight Simulator – the company’s ” longest-running game franchise” – launched on the PC via the Microsoft Store and Steam, and quickly became the biggest Game Pass launch on the PC, with the simulator gaining over a million players within a span of one month. By December last year, the firm revealed that over two million people had played the game, an impressive stat for a simulation offering. The company also added VR support late last year, further enhancing the experience of the title.
Since launch, the game has picked up numerous World Updates aimed at enhancing visual for specific locations, which the company says will make it to Xbox players as well. The firm is also working with third parties to add support for additional peripherals to the console and promises the “same level of depth as the PC version” for users of its latest generation consoles.
Another surprise reveal today was a Top Gun: Maverick expansion that will make it to the game on November 19, aligning with the release of the Top Gun: Maverick movie, which the firm is celebrating with Paramount Pictures. While not much in the way of details was provided, the trailer hints at the addition of aircraft carriers and an F/A-18 Super Hornet.
Flight Simulator will be available for Xbox Game Pass users on Series X and Series S consolers on day one and subscribers can go ahead and pre-install the game today. For everyone else, pre-orders open today in the Xbox Store.
Microsoft Weekly: Game streaming devices, vertical tabs, and Patch Tuesday
by Florin Bodnarescu
A game streaming stick from Microsoft, some nice vertical tab improvements, and even the usual Patch Tuesday updates were revealed or confirmed in the last seven days. You can find info about that, as well as much more below, in your Microsoft digest for the week of June 6 - 12.
Game streaming devices
It’s not much a surprise that off the back of its rather successful hardware launch last year, as well as the debut of Xbox game streaming (formerly Project xCloud), Microsoft has been looking to expand its reach.
There were previous rumors of a Chromecast-like streaming solution that the firm was working on, but this week, the company came out and actually confirmed it. It mentioned that it’s working closely with TV manufacturers to integrate the “Xbox experience” into these devices, allowing folks to leverage their Game Pass subscriptions for cloud gaming.
Furthermore, echoing previously outlined ambitions, Microsoft wants to launch at least one first-party Xbox game every quarter. This is certainly possible with the gaming arm’s ever-increasing focus on first-party studios (which just this year officially grew to 23 thanks to the ZeniMax acquisition going through).
In terms of other bits of news, Project Acoustics 2.0 has been announced, which allows for the simulation of immersive acoustics in 3D environments, and integrates with engines like Unity and Unreal. Microsoft’s Project Acoustics 2.0 supports deployment across Windows, Xbox, Android, and macOS.
Moving onto game news, players making use of Fallout 76 Battle Royale mode will have just a few more months to enjoy this variant of the game, as it’s scheduled for shutdown in September. To prepare for this, you can go ahead and pick some of the games that are currently on sale, like Call of Duty: Black Ops – Cold War, GreedFall, and others, as part of the Deals with Gold initiative.
Last but not least, if you have any Game Pass installation errors, make sure to check for updates, as Microsoft has released an optional patch to fix the aforementioned issues.
We’ll be able to see what else the company has in store in terms of games later today, as the Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase kicks off at 10AM PT.
For folks running the Chromium variant of Edge in the Beta channel, version 92 has begun rolling out, adding various improvements to vertical tabs. Among said improvements is the ability to turn the feature off for different open windows, as well as to hide the title bar when vertical tabs are enabled.
Those in the Dev channel got to play with Edge 93.0.910.5 which includes support for automatic HTTPS, font rendering improvements, improved inking experiences, and other enhancements targeted at those running the browser on a Mac.
As is tradition, the second Tuesday of the month has rolled around, signaling that it’s time for Microsoft to push out its usual set of patches to supported versions of its operating systems.
If you’re on Windows 10 v2004 (May 2020 Update), 20H2 (October 2020 Update) or 21H1 (May 2021 Update), you’ll be receiving the same update, KB5003637, with the build numbers changing to 19041.1052, 19042.1052, and 19043.1052, respectively. The revision number at the end is identical due to the three updates being built essentially on the same codebase.
The above contain mostly security and file management improvements.
Those running Enterprise, Education, or IoT Enterprise variants of 1909 (November 2019 Update) will receive KB5003635, bumping the build number up to 18363.1621 and containing mostly the same updates as the newer versions of Windows 10. There is one additional fix here though, for a bug which prevented folks from signing into some Microsoft 365 desktop apps after installing the May 11, 2021 update.
There are of course some other supported variants, like Enterprise and Education SKUs of 1809 (October 2018 Update) – receiving KB5003646 and bumping the build number up to 17763.1999 -, as well as the LTSC variants of 1607 (Anniversary Update) and 1507 (Windows 10 RTM). The latter two will get KB5003638 and KB5003687, bumping the build numbers up to 14393.4467 and 10240.18967, respectively.
Windows 8.1 and Server 2012 R2 got their very own update in the form of the monthly rollup found under KB5003671 (with KB5003681 being the security-only update). Not to be forgotten, businesses paying for ESUs got KB5003667 (or KB5003694 for the security-only variant) for their Windows 7 SP1 and Server 2008 R2 SP1 systems. All the updates just mentioned carry the same known issues that have been there for months.
Last but not least, Microsoft pushed out build 21390.1000 to Dev channel users to test its servicing pipeline. The firm does this either when a new version of Windows is close to release, or, for this special case, when it wants to hold back the visuals of Windows codename Sun Valley (or Windows 11, or whatever it ends up being called) for the event on June 24. We’ll probably hear more on that date at 11 AM.
Windows Virtual Desktop is now Azure Virtual Desktop, and has added some has new features. Natural language queries and dictation have been added to Outlook on iOS. Microsoft Search will soon be able to go through Teams meeting transcriptions. OneDrive will run natively on M1 Macs later in 2021. A Teams bug caused users to be prompted to a select a certificate, an issue which has now been resolved. Those using the Teams Public Preview are now able to have two 7x7 video grid pages during calls. Logging off
We end things with a guide related to fonts, and a small reminder of what’s coming later today.
Whether it’s a Photoshop project that requires it, or a mere PowerPoint slide deck, a custom font can definitely spruce things up.
In case you’re looking to install such a font, our very own Usama Jawad has put together a guide, detailing the places you can go to obtain these fonts, the ways to install (or indeed uninstall them), as well as highlighting the fact that they can be installed on a per-user basis, among other things.
And since it’s June 13, we really should highlight that the Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase will take place later today. It’s expected that we’ll see a brand-new look at Halo Infinite, as well as updates and new title announcements from across the Redmond giant’s 23 studios. We may even hear about some new studio acquisitions, if prior years are any indication.
The Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase kicks off today at 10AM PT (that’s 1PM ET, or 6PM BST).
Missed any of the previous columns? Be sure to have a look right here.
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