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You can now download Xbox Game Pass games with Amazon Alexa
by João Carrasqueira
Amazon has announced a new capability for the Xbox Alexa skill, making it possible to directly download games from Xbox Game Pass to their console using the voice assistant. The feature can be used on any Alexa-enabled device, like the Echo Buds, Echo Auto, and others.
While it's part of the Xbox skill for Alexa, users don't have to specifically summon the skill for this to work, they can just say "Alexa, download [game] from Xbox Game Pass". Interestingly, Amazon also notes that Microsoft is "the first gaming partner" to get this kind of direct download feature, which seems to suggest other integrations may be planned in the future.
In addition to downloading games, this integration with Game Pass also means users can ask what's popular, new, or leaving Game Pass, without even having to link their Xbox accounts. Of course, downloading a game does require account linking.
The announcement follows up on the recent launch of Alexa for Xbox, which brought the full suite of Alexa features to the console itself, though it still requires a dedicated Alexa device to work. This new Alexa capability is now available in the United States, but support for more regions is planned for the future. If you're wondering, only support for Xbox consoles is mentioned, so if you have Game Pass for PC, you won't be able to use this skill to download games there.
You'll be able to store PlayStation 5 games on external storage tomorrow
by João Carrasqueira
Today, Sony announced the first major software update for the PlayStation 5 console, which will be arriving tomorrow. The update delivers a handful of new improvements for game management and social features, and it will be available tomorrow.
The most notable addition is likely the ability to store PlayStation 5 games on external USB storage. Because PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S have SSDs and a new storage architecture, games can't be played off of slower external storage, but Microsoft's console has always given you the option to store them there until you're ready to play. Sony is now catching up and enabling that feature on its own console.
What's not being added is the ability to use an M.2 SSD. Sony opted for a standard format for its SSD storage expansion as opposed to Microsoft's proprietary expansion cards, but it says it's still working to enable the feature. In the meantime, you still have to play PlayStation 5 games off of the built-in storage.
Social features are also getting improvements, with Sony enabling cross-generation Share Play. That means a PlayStation 5 user can now invite a friend on PlayStation 4 to watch a game session or even take control of a PlayStation 5 game from their own console. Additionally, it'll be possible to request to join a friend's game session on either PlayStation 4 or 5.
Sony is also updating the Game Base UI to give quicker access to parties and friends, as well as adding the ability to turn notifications on or off for each party the user is in. Additionally, it will be possible to disable game chat entirely or to individually adjust the chat volume for each of the players in your group chat.
Other improvements include the ability for games to automatically download update data in the background so they're ready to play when the user boots them up, a more customizable game library with the ability to hide or search for certain games, and new Trophy settings as well as a new Trophy Stats screen. For users with special accessibility needs, there's also a new screen magnification option.
Outside of the PlayStation 5 itself, Sony has also announced updates for the PlayStation app on Android and iOS. The company recently added the ability to save products to a wishlist, get notifications for when friends are online, and change a console's online status. Soon, it will also add the ability to join a PlayStation 5 multiplayer session, manage the console's storage, and compare trophy collections with friends, all inside the app.
By Asher Madan
Xbox Deals with Gold and Spring Sale feature The Division, Yakuza, and more
by Asher Madan
Every week, Microsoft and select publishers discount a number of titles for a weekly Deals with Gold sale. This week, games like Assassin's Creed Odyssey, Atlas, and more are still available for substantially less. The Xbox Spring Sale is also going on and includes hundreds of popular experiences. Below, you'll find the Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and Xbox 360 games with their respective discounts. The deals and games marked with an asterisk are only valid for Xbox Live Gold members, so you'll need an active paid subscription for the additional discount.
Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One
If you're still using an Xbox 360, there's a little bit going on this week. Almost all of the games are also backward compatible so you can play them on your Xbox Series X|S or Xbox One.
Which titles are you interested in? Did you buy any up? Let us know in the comments below.
Nintendo introduces new, darker, blue color for the Switch Lite
by João Carrasqueira
As many Nintendo fans are yearning for a purported Switch model with a better display and 4K support, the Japanese giant has decided to instead introduce a new color variant of its lower-end Switch Lite. The new model comes in a darker blue shade, with a hint of purple that some fans are likening to the Nintendo GameCube - although it is undeniably different.
The Nintendo Switch Lite is a more affordable variant of the standard Switch, featuring a smaller display, a single-piece design (as opposed to removable Joy-Con), a proper D-pad, and overall lighter build, making it ideal for taking on the go. On the other hand, the Switch Lite is completely unable to output video to an external screen, so you can't play it on a TV in any way. We reviewed the handheld when it launched originally in 2019, and found it to be a better option for handheld play, though there are some definite sacrifices to be made.
The new color variant is launching on May 21, alongside one of Nintendo's most recently-announced titles, Miitopia, though the game isn't included with the system. Miitopia is a remastered version of the title of the same name, which launched on the Nintendo 3DS in 2017, now featuring HD graphics. It's an RPG starring Nintendo's Mii avatars, specifically with the ability to use Miis from other users on the player's friends list, making them the main characters of the game.
The new Switch Lite also costs the same as every other color variant, at $199.99, and with it, there are now five models outside of special editions. With rumors ramping up regarding an improved Switch model launching later this year, some may find it hard to justify that investment, but it's a new option for anyone that's interested in it.
Nier: Automata upgrade patch incoming for the Steam version
by Pulasthi Ariyasinghe
The Steam version of Nier: Automata has been in a rough state since its launch in 2017, with the popular action game suffering performance and resolution-related issues that were never resolved. While the Steam version has lacked bug fixing updates, the recently released Microsoft Store version of the NieR: Automata BECOME AS GODS Edition (aimed at Xbox Game Pass users) landed with some much-needed improvements and stability updates.
Now, over three years after its launch, an update is finally coming to the deserted Steam version. The official Twitter account of Nier series announced the news, saying "an upgrade patch for the Steam version of NieR: Automata is currently in development," but did not go into detail on what will be included:
The Microsoft Store Windows 10 port of Nier: Automata had been handled by the studio QLOC, which said it was developed "on special request from PlatinumGames". The upgrade included a borderless windowed play setting (fixing resolution issues), AMD FidelityFX suite, HDR, and 4K upscaled UI textures. It's likely that the Steam version will include the same fixes and enhancements.
It will be interesting to see how the recommended mod by the community for fixing the Steam version of Nier: Automata will function following the update. The game also suffered a review bombing campaign on Steam last month after it was revealed that the Microsoft Store version had arrived touting new fixes.