Gaming, Venue

Inside XBOX: What’s New?

‘Inside Xbox’ went behind the scenes with the team from Xbox and third-party designers and developers to demonstrate what we can expect from the Xbox Series X, due to be released towards the end of 2020. Streaming over YouTube on 7 May 2020, ‘Inside Xbox’ bought us the first exclusive preview of gameplay for the long awaited ‘next gen’ console.

The title that kicked off the demonstration was newcomer ‘Bright Memory: Infinite’ from an indie studio, developed in Japan by a sole designer, which given its AAA appearance and seemingly impressive & slick gameplay, makes it all the more extraordinary. ‘Bright Memory: Infinite’ is described as being set in the year 2036 where a strange phenomenon, for which scientists can find no explanation, seems to be connected to an archaic mystery. The Supernatural Science Research Organization (SRO) has sent agents out to various regions to investigate this phenomenon.

Aaron Greenberg, Xbox’s General Manager of Games Marketing, introduced the rest of the stream, teasing us with upcoming clips and introduced the new concept being launched by Xbox alongside the Series X, Smart Delivery, which will allow you to purchase the game on Xbox One and play it on the Series X and vice versa. This seems like it will bring an end to the issue around backwards compatibility which annoys most gamers when upgrading consoles to the latest models.

Greenberg went on to promise an insight into a world of dreams now only possible due to the power of the Xbox Series X delivering ‘next-gen’ gaming. He also promised us nightmares, this next title certainly provided an eerie sense of being similar to that of Ridley Scott’s Alien. ‘Scorn’ is described as an atmospheric first-person horror adventure

EA’s big hitting ‘Madden 21’ will be coming to Series X, with smart delivery; we were treated to footage of game play from the earlier versions of the game to see how it has developed over the years to the near realistic graphics we have today and can expect with the Series X.

Other smart delivery titles include; thriller vampire themed title ‘Bloodlines 2’, anime title ‘Scarlet Nexus’, first person shooters ‘The Ascent’, ‘Second Extinction’, and the phenomenal looking ‘Yakuza: Like A Dragon from Sega’.

Xbox also hinted at the Xbox game pass continuing to be a key competent of gameplay moving forward with titles such as ‘Call of the Sea’ and psychological horror ‘The Medium’.

Perhaps the most anticipated was the world premiere of ‘Assassin’s Creed Valhalla’. As expected, we were treated to stunning vast expanses of in-game world and cut scenes teasing us with an insight into this latest instalment in the series. What was distinctly lacking, however, was the presence of actual gameplay footage…

Ashraf Ismail, Creative Director, joined ‘Inside Xbox’ to talk about how ‘Assassin’s Creed’ has developed into the era, basing itself on England’s brutal Viking age. Key new features include the lead character who travels from Norway to England to find a place for settlement, and players will raid and pillage using ships, tackle battlements, and lead their own colony. With new wieldable weapons and a new style of in game combat, all complimented with decision-based gameplay, this looks to be a very new kind of ‘Assassin’s Creed’.

Another interesting title on display was from the Bloober team; ‘The Medium’, is a dual-reality horror. Players will experience both reality and the spirit world, scored by the legendary composer Akira Yamaoka who is best known for his work on the ‘Silent Hill’ franchise. You play as a medium who can see both realities and is haunted by a vision she tries to solve, set in Krakow, Poland (home of Bloober) during the late 80s. This game looks impressive and thrilling, the developers described that the power of the Xbox Series X has meant they can finally deliver the immersive experience they have been dreaming of for some time.

Overall, there is a clear push to this idea of ‘next gen’ gaming with the power available through this new console, along with Xbox’s new service smart delivery, which was mentioned throughout the event.

The Xbox Series X is currently on track to deliver the following specifications:

CPU8x Zen 2 Cores at 3.8GHz (3.6GHz with SMT) 7nm 
GPU12 TFLOPs, 52 CUs at 1.825GHz, Custom RDNA 2 
Memory16GB GDDR6
Optical Drive4K UHD Blu-ray
PortsHDMI 2.1 output, 3x USB 3.2, networking port, expanded storage slot, power input
FPS Support120fps
ResolutionPotential for 8K
Storage1TB custom SSD

It’s clear, however,that Xbox failed to set the right expectations for the event as they promised gameplay previews and there wasn’t a single HUD in sight, it looked more like cinematic trailers of each game rather than blow-by-blow in-game footage. It will always be difficult to show the true ‘next-gen’ gaming experience across an internet stream as it’s unlikely the end users are viewing in 4K, which is beyond most streaming capabilities. Of course, had we been able to attend a live expo in present times, we’d have a better insight into how these games are engineered.

Xbox will be running monthly previews throughout 2020, with its own Xbox Game Studios games expected to be demonstrated in July.


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19/05/2020

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Roo Pitt