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By Jay Bonggolto
Microsoft announces game stories in the Xbox app
by Jay Bonggolto
Microsoft announced today a new feature in the Xbox app for Android and iOS that's inspired by a popular feature from various social networking apps. The Xbox app is adding stories from various game brands such as Forza, Halo, and Sea of Thieves.
The new stories feature has been showcased on Xbox's official Twitter account, and it has a similar interface that you can find on social networking platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat. Unlike stories from those services, however, the Xbox app's version displays the buttons for likes, shares, and comments at the bottom of the screen as well as their corresponding numbers.
Stories can be found below the cards of game titles and are labeled "official posts from games" instead of "stories". This means the content you will see are coming only from game brands you follow instead of from your friends like you can with most social media apps. There's no word on whether Microsoft will give users the ability to post stories on the app.
The new experience should be a welcome development for those who want to receive updates from their favorite game brands or studios. It also expands the app's capabilities after Microsoft added support for remote play last year along with a new UI that debuted on Xbox consoles with the October 2020 update.
Halo Infinite multiplayer detailed, brings in personal AIs for players
by Pulasthi Ariyasinghe
It was only yesterday that 343 Industries unveiled the first gameplay of Halo Infinite multiplayer, and already, another information drop has landed. The studio today gave an overview of the free-to-play venture's updated sandbox, the new Academy training system, bots, Spartan customization, battle pass, and other elements.
The Academy will be an onboarding experience for new players to Halo multiplayer, providing tutorials, weapon drills, and even a training mode with bots for those looking for a warmup before matchmaking.
The grappling hook that has gotten a lot of focus is a piece of equipment you pick up in multiplayer, letting you swing around maps while pulling in weapons and other equipment as well as zipping towards players and vehicles. Powerups like overshield and camouflage are now user activated after picking up, and dying before getting to activate means they drop on the ground for someone else to use.
Meanwhile, vehicles now have a damage system, letting wheels and various parts break off in combat affecting their maneuverability. Speaking of vehicles, 343 is introducing the Razorback as a more spacious and robust version of the Warthog, and alongside troops, it can also carry detached turrets, power weapons, fusion coils, and even objective items in a storage compartment on its back.
The new Personal AI system lets Spartans choose a helpful companion in multiplayer, complete with appearance and personality customization. These will give you "moment to moment updates" such as instructions to go back to base after picking up an enemy flag. Don't worry, the Halo announcer is still there for jumping in with quips for the big moments.
Moving on to customization, your super soldier's body type, voice, optional prosthetics, individual armor pieces, weapons, vehicles, and more can all be tinkered with heavily. Moreover, it's not just in-game this can be done, as both the HaloWaypoint website and app will allow the capability from the outside.
The studio reiterated that there won't be any loot boxes in Halo Infinite, and all content that can be unlocked via progression, the battle passes, or purchased on the shop will be cosmetic in nature. Battle passes will also remain in the game after a season ends so players could go back and earn something they missed out on later.
Halo Infinite's campaign and the free multiplayer portion is coming to PC via the Microsoft Store and Steam, as well as Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S consoles this holiday. Head here to sign up for upcoming flights. The title will have cross-progression across all platforms, and while crossplay will also be a feature, it's unclear if this is only for certain modes or if it will be enabled across everything.
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.
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.