Category Archives: Xbox Series X|S

New Walkthrough Trailer Gives An Insight Into Alien World Of The Gunk, Coming To Xbox & PC On December 16th

Thunderful are pleased to unveil a new trailer for anticipated story-driven sci-fi exploration title The Gunk where lead star Fiona Nova gives us a guided introduction to the game’s compelling world. This new game from the team behind the SteamWorld series will be released for Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One and PC on December 16th, and will be available on Xbox Game Pass on day one.

In the new trailer, Fiona Nova, voice of protagonist Rani, introduces us to the game’s compelling characters and spectacular alien world. Rani and her partner Becks are a space hauling duo mining the galaxy for whatever resources they can sell to make ends meet. When they come across a seemingly barren planet infested with a strange undiscovered substance they call “the gunk”, they wonder if they might be in for a big payout.

The Gunk has a big emphasis on exploration with a wondrous and diverse alien world to discover featuring biomes ranging from rocky canyons, to dense jungles, to deep subterranean caves (this is the team behind SteamWorld after all) and a few more surprises. The gunk is turning all of these zones barren, but as you remove it using Rani’s upgradable goo-sucking power-glove, you’ll discover a flourishing ecosystem seemingly suppressed by this mysterious and destructive gunk.

The intriguing questions of what the gunk is, how it got here and what kind of world existed prior to its arrival can be uncovered as you explore. Perhaps the gunk has something to do with the ruins of an ancient civilization that appears to be long gone? Scanning the environment to make new discoveries and learn more about the world will fill out your findings in a logbook. Players who dig into these entries might just find some clues as to what happened here!

“As a team, it’s been a real pleasure to branch out and supplement the charm we’re known for with the SteamWorld series with a more ‘grown-up’ story like the one we are telling with The Gunk,” said Game Director Ulf Hartelius. “We’ve been working hard to blend that intriguing sci-fi tale with the cool raymarching tech we’re using to create our mesmerizing gunk and a rich world for players to explore. We can’t wait for them to finally get to experience it all on December 16th”.

Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition Review – Xbox Series X

Grand Theft Auto Trilogy Definitive Edition launched in a laughable state. Since then, it has received several updates addressing the deluge of bugs, poor performance, and graphical blunders that plagued these beloved games. At the time of writing, patch 1.03 went live, and I have only reviewed the patch notes. I will endeavor to give you my unbiased impressions as I only recently dug into the background of how and why these games launched in the state they did. While I attempt to not jump on the dogpile of gifs showcasing the bizarre and befuddling bugs, I do want to give my honest impressions.

Having played the originals (Grand Theft Auto III, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas) when they first launched in 2001, 2002, and 2004 respectively, I expected the rose-colored glasses of my youth to get a reality check. What I didn’t expect was to continually scratch my head and think, “that doesn’t look right.” Public relations crisis aside, how do they play, and more importantly are they worth $60?

For the uninitiated, the gameplay is exactly what you’d expect. Faithful to its name, you steal cars, mow down mobsters (or civilians if that’s your thing), larceny, arson, and general skullduggery. You’ll get updated controls, however, even updated controls for Rockstar games are still PS2 controls. If you’ve ever smashed an X button to death in order to outrun the law, then you’ll be right at home.

Playing through the games, you see the original design concept of an open-world game that reacts to you. This was groundbreaking at the time and with each title, Rockstar steadily increased scale, complexity, and quality. Grand Theft Auto III feels so small in comparison to the other two games. Likewise comparing this old watershed game to modern open-world games is like revisiting your childhood bedroom. It just felt so much bigger when you were younger. This isn’t a bad thing as you can beat GTA III in about 5-7 hours. The other two games are a good bit more time to see credits roll. Although this is on the patch list, when you saw fly over San Andreas, you get a sense of how large games are now in size.

Modern control schemes and native resolutions built for today’s televisions are a great touch, but it’s the bare minimum I’d expect of any game. The games ran well enough on my Xbox Series S|X, but the issues come in when you consider what they’re running. Of course, I’d expect modern consoles to run PS2 games without dropping frames. The issue comes in when you look too closely at the character models and textures. To understand what graphically is happening you have to understand how the game was developed. It’s one thing if character models, set pieces, and rain effects were designed to look artificial, but we know that the original intent was gritty, immersive, and raw. Instead what we see is plastic-looking, artificial, and bizarre.

The project was outsourced to a development house that specializes in mobile ports called Grove Street Games. You can begin to see how this project lost its way. No disrespect to the studio, but they are clearly marked as a support studio that specializes in porting console games to mobile. It is apparent that the studio used AI image upscaling to streamline the workflow of “remastering” the assets. The result is inconsistent at best and characters look like melted action figures at worst.

To make matters worse, not all of the beloved soundtrack is present in this definitive edition. The music industry’s notorious copyright deals are a nightmare to navigate. However, if the aim was to bring these old games to a new generation, they missed the mark. I must assume someone was in charge of playtesting these games before going gold and charging people a premium. Because Rockstar saw fit to issue take-downs to modders who had worked on PC versions graphical upgrades, this is now the “best” legal way a consumer can experience these games. I hope Rockstar continues to release updates and seeks to make right what was an unforced error. Furthermore, given the revenue generated from GTA Online, there really was no reason to release this at this time. Consumers should expect more from publishers and developers. Likewise, console storefronts should have higher expectations for the content they allow to be sold.

I can’t say that I had no fun knocking around my old haunts. The older quest structure and dialogue made me nostalgic for the times when we’d turn the TV volume down lest my parents find out what games we’re playing. However, the launch version of this game was unacceptable. The Definitive Edition should at the very least hold up to the original Likewise, fans who purchased this at launch because it was a Rockstar game, have every right to be upset. There’s a long hill to climb to reclaim the goodwill Rockstar games carry in the meantime, I still have a couple of PS2’s lying around.

Oddworld: Soulstorm Enhanced Edition now available!

Microids and Oddworld Inhabitants are thrilled to announce the improved edition of the award-winning* action-adventure platformer Oddworld: Soulstorm is now available on Xbox Series X I S, Xbox One consoles, PlayStation®5, PlayStation®4, and Epic Games Store.

Oddworld: Soulstorm Enhanced Edition includes dramatically improved gameplay mechanics and motion code, audio balance improvements, seven additional months of polish, improved Slig and follower AI (more intelligent and responsive), as well as all previously released updates and brand-new content.

Game Features:

  • Explosive Action-Adventure Platformer: Evolving the platforming genre by adding RPG-lite elements with player agency to play as you like, whether aggressively or passively. Pickpocket your enemies, loot lockers, sift through trash cans, and find hidden areas to acquire resources. Exchange resources at vending machines to get products that give you more agency in how you chose to conquer the game’s many challenges. Acquire recipes to craft tools and weapons to use against opposing forces or solve problems. Arm your followers and watch the revolution begin.
  • Epicness: This isn’t a traditional 2D side scrolling platformer. Soulstorm is a 2.9D action-adventure platformer with 15 hours of gameplay, and dozens more for achievement hunters and perfectionists. Epic environments with massive scale to explore by going into the world, rather than being limited to the traditional side scrolling platformer sense.
  • Start a Revolution: A dark storyline with a twisted sense of humor that shines a light on the ironies that exist in the human condition. As a slave to big business, a cog in the corporate machine being grinded to death, Abe tries to save them all and along the way he goes from a nobody to potentially starting a global revolution.
  • Completionists: Can you save every single Mudokon in the game (there are more than 1,000)? Can you achieve the best ending and unlock the final two playable levels? Can you scavenge every trash can and locker, kill or safely apprehend every antagonist, find every hidden area, collect every jelly? 3+m players have had the opportunity to do it…will you be the first to do it on Xbox?
  • Multiple Endings: Soulstorm has 15 levels, with two additional unlockable levels at the end of the game. There are 4 types of endings in the game, each depending on your Quarma. At the end of each individual level, you receive a Quarma score, which is based on the number of Mudokons you save. If you succeed in saving enough Mudokons throughout all the levels, you’ll get one of the good endings. But beware: if your Quarma score isn’t high enough, you’ll get a more… dire fate!

What’s Soulstorm’s Brand New Content?

Oddworld: Soulstorm Enhanced Edition’s new content is a separate challenge game mode accessed via the main menu once you complete the game.

Xbox players will go hands-on with Vykkers Labs, a throwback to classic Oddworld 2.5D gameplay featuring short puzzle-filled levels. Earn leaderboard prestige for speed runs or zero-death performances. For those who don’t recall, Vykkers Labs is a large airborne lab used for pharmaceutical testing on animals and run by the sadistic Vykkers.

PlayStation and Epic Games Store players will experience Toby’s Escape. Like Vykkers, it is a throwback to classic Oddworld gaming with short puzzle-filled levels to master. If you have played Soulstorm, you’ll know Toby from the train, but how did Toby escape RuptureFarms and become the train’s conductor…find out in Toby’s Escape.

What If You Already Own Oddworld: Soulstorm?

For the millions of gamers who already own Oddworld: Soulstorm on PS5®, PS4®, and Epic Games Store, you will receive the Enhanced Edition as a free update.

Enhanced Edition for Xbox Series X|S & Xbox One

The retail versions for the Collector and Day One Editions of Oddworld: Soulstorm Enhanced Edition are now available. Fans who have preordered the Day One Edition or Collector’s Edition at participating retailers will also get access to the game’s Original Soundtrack and a Digital Artbook.

LEGO Builder’s Journey for Xbox Coming November 25

The LEGO® Group brings the critically acclaimed LEGO® Builder’s Journey to even more players this Thanksgiving, available November 25 for Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One devices. LEGO® Builder’s Journey will be discounted for 20% off for a limited time beginning on launch day.

The Steam version which is available to play now will be 25% during the same time frame.

The Light Brick team has designed a stunning brick-built world that follows a father and son on an inspirational journey. Players will delight in mediatiative gameplay that is filled with geometric puzzles and graphical upgrades for the current generation of Xbox devices.

LEGO Builder’s Journey will launch on Xbox devices on November 25, and is now available on Steam, the Epic Games Store and the Nintendo eshop. To learn more, please visit https://www.lightbrick.com/builders-journey.

Next Space Rebels Launch Trailer Revealed Ahead of Tomorrow’s Release

3, 2, 1… LIFTOFF!

Tomorrow, Humble Games and Studio Floris Kaayk will release their one-of-a-kind story driven simulation game, Next Space Rebels, for Xbox One and PC via the Humble Store and Steam. Next Space Rebels will also be available on Xbox Game Pass on Day 1, and the game will be launching for Nintendo Switch in 2022.  In celebration, the team has released a new launch trailer today.

In Next Space Rebels, players will develop from a naive rocket hobbyist into an experienced space activist by designing, building, and launching rockets of increasing complexity. Next Space Rebels enables the joy of creation, lessons of failure, and progress of experimentation, generally reserved for complex sim games, through its accessible “notepad-style” creation tools and intertwined narrative.

KEY FEATURES:

  • DESIGN ROCKETS – Powerful yet easy-to-use rocket creation tools that will let any budding rocketeer express their full creative potential
  • EARN YOUR WAY TO THE TOP – Earn and gather new parts by completing challenges to grow from a hobbyist rocket builder to an advanced satellite-launching rocket scientist
  • YOUR VERY OWN STARTUBE CHANNEL – Grow an online StarTube channel! Share recorded creations in-game to grow the channel, then export them to share in real life
  • LIVE ACTION – Fully live-action cutscenes! Meet an extensive cast of extravagant internet characters on your journey towards becoming a Next Space Rebel
  • FREEPLAY MODE – Freeplay mode to create the Frankensteinian rocket of your dreams

Battlefield 2042 First Impressions – PC & Xbox Series X

This is a first-impression review and as such opinions are based solely on the state of the game at the time of review and subject to change as development progresses leading up to final release.

Battlefield 2042 takes players back to a near future war zone where “non-patriots” act as specialists who join different international powers in massive battles around the globe. For 19 years DICE has aimed to let players make their own adventures by dropping them into massive conflict zones and equipping them with weapons, supplies, and vehicles. While the series has struggled to remain relevant in recent years, the gameplay always differentiates itself from other dominant shooters year over year. Halo is an arena shooter built on a longer time-to-kill while Call of Duty is a twitch-based multiplayer where speed and nearly instantaneous time-to-death levels the playing field. Battlefield, however, has always stood out as a slightly slower tactical shooter that prizes squad cooperation and positioning over reaction-time or map memorization. In this latest iteration, it promised to double the scale and player counts of previous generations and add specialists to refresh the class-based formula to modernize the game.

A cutscene will play, setting up the gameplay of these specialists taking various sides and you’ll be greeted by three different game types. All-Out Warfare, Hazard Zone, and Portal. All-Out Warfare pits two teams against each other vying for territory or attack and defense games. This is the traditional large-scale 128 player Battlefield past players are accustomed to. Hazard Zone is the “Escape From Tarkov” quad-based extraction game that has you looting drop pods for hard drives and safely extracting before another team or NPC can gun you down. Lastly, Portal is the “Battlefield Salad” where you can mix up select previous titles into a customized, player-created game for a new twist using old assets. Portal is a genius idea that I loved seeing the creativity and variety of game types.

The asking price for this package is between $60-$110 depending on the platform and edition. Alternatively, you could get 10 hours of access or unlimited hours with either Gamepass/EAPlay or EA Play Pro for $4.99/$29.99 per month or $14.99/$99.99 respectively. The value proposition is further complicated by the release date. While certain editions grant you early access, with unlimited playtime other editions grant you limited playtime with no ownership. If you made it through those two sentences with clarity of what to purchase, I congratulate you. I would love it if anyone in the comments could give me one sentence that tells me where, how, and when I can play this game if I’m a potential customer. I write this to illustrate the hoops that are asked of the consumer to jump through and how frustrating some people must feel when the game doesn’t run as advertised or release when they expected.

During my 15 hours with the game, I have spent a collective 3.5 hours either queuing or restarting the program to try and get into a match. I have experienced bugs such as items not unlocking, graphical errors, full crashes on Xbox series X, and more. The frustrating cherry on top is not having game chat enabled. There is a ping system but it is not as intuitive as other shooters. Not being able to communicate in Hazard Zone severely inhibits the capability of a cross-platform team and the lack of inclusion of a chat system is a glaring oversight.

Since Battlefield 3 and the ubiquitous adoption of online console gaming, it has been understood that EA’s flagship shooter always stumbles out of the gate with bugs and stability issues. Therefore, it should always be a question as a publisher what state is acceptable to ship a game in or call it “launched.” Furthermore, after Sony’s very public removal of Cyberpunk from their online store, it begs the question: what obligation is there from Microsoft or Sony to regulate these unfinished games during the certification process?

Let me put some sugar with all this salt. I will continue to play Battlefield 2042 weekly if not daily. I love the chaos and unpredictability of each battle. When the game runs as intended it is a joy to play and feels great. I want DICE to patch and update this fast so a community of players grows and 128-player lobbies are full. I understand publicly traded companies have to hit deadlines, but I wish this game was baked longer in the oven. I gladly gave them my $70 in addition to the review copy, because I love the formula.

I will play the hell out of Battlefield because I am a glutton for punishment, and I love the scale and skirmishes. Likewise, when this game works it’s a technical marvel that looks beautiful to boot. Therefore, I’d recommend you buy one month of EA play as a means to “rent” before purchasing. Perhaps we got rid of Blockbuster too soon, because this is a try before you buy, but if you love large-scale chaotic battles, this is a damn fun one when it works. I would love to be able to return to this article a year from now and write about how DICE made this right by patches and community support. Time will tell but, in the meantime, I’ll be on the Battlefield.

MORE SCREENS

Faraday Protocol Releases on Xbox and PC

Publisher Deck 13, who last year released the globally acclaimed RPG blockbuster CrossCode, delivers another genre breakthrough with a redefined and enhanced first-person puzzler & explorer with a mysterious backdrop story to intrigue. Faraday Protocol is an experience that is not to be missed. – Out Now! (PS/XB/NSW –  $24.99/€24.99/£20.99 – PC Steam – $19.99/€19.99/£15.99).

Emergence  / Evolution
After a low profile soft launch and focused feedback from the gaming community, a number of major updates have been initiated in Faraday Protocol. With its unique and challenging gameplay, which adds that extra spark to ensuring it shines brightly, this game reemerges  on Microsoft Xbox, Steam PC, Nintendo Switch and Sony PlayStation 4 /5 with a triumphant boost of creativity.

Setting New Boundaries
This beautifully crafted first person puzzle journey conjures up intrigue, mystery, and a number of unsettling moments as you experience the atmospheric delights as an interstellar archaeologist who researches the abandoned space station OPIS and its enigmatic governing A.I. IRIS. Developed by the talented Italian developers, Red Koi Box, utilizing the Unreal Engine 4, they have crafted and designed methods unique to this game genre.

Brainy Stuff
All of the mechanics rotate around the Bia-Tool, an original object capable of absorbing and re-distributing specific types of energy. The simple mechanics  evolve over time and allow for increasingly complex and mind-bending puzzles.

Breaking New Ground
Faraday Protocol moves from the traditional ways and follows rules and uses mechanics never used before, and will challenge the grey matter of the player to lateral and logical thinking. The unique puzzle elements combined with the linear game and story progression make this game enjoyable for almost everyone.”, Giacomo Sala, Red Koi Box.

The Story Unfolds and Scene setting – The Challenge
Set in a sterile and futuristic world, you are soon thrust into an organic forest-like environment after leaving your spacecraft. In this strange unnerving environment the player will see three Ziggurats (pyramid buildings) and will be led into one, where your intuitive powers of logic and expertise will start. The first building looks clean, sterile and in very good condition, with strong tones of black and gold. Here the player will learn the basic mechanics, and will experiment with them until he will reach the top of Ziqqurat One. Outside night has now come, and more, new mechanics will be introduced. The next building will be decaying, and will comprise a combination of all the player has previously learned. He will then face two other environments, with different tones and feels, which will bring him to the end of the game. Throughout the game, the storyline will progressively grow, as in the beginning it is limited to pre-recorded messages, it will unfold into full conversations with multiple choices.

Features  – Outside The Box:

  • Multiple Solutions to succeed.
  • Hidden Collectables – Deviously Hidden
  • Immersive Soundtrack
  • Puzzle your way through a number of “Escape Room”- like puzzle rooms
  • Absorb and redistribute energy using the Bia-Tool
  • Unravel the mysteries of the abandoned space station OPIS
  • A unique blend of retrofuturism

Faraday Protocol – Its Essence – is a first person puzzler that will test your wits and intelligence. Use the Bia-Tool, an ancient pistol-like relic of an alien civilization, to solve puzzles by bending energy and manipulating enigmatic machinery. Explore the mysterious and abandoned space station OPIS and unravel the mysteries of its governing A.I. IRIS, which slumbers deep at the core of the station.

Toy Soldiers HD Review – Xbox Series X

Toy Soldiers was originally released on the Xbox Live Arcade platform in March of 2010. The unique blend of 3rd person action, tower defense, airborne dogfights, armored vehicles, and top-down real-time strategy was acclaimed at the time and sold nearly 5 million copies. Fast forward 11 years and the quirky World War One game is looking to attract a new generation of gamers by releasing an HD version. Likewise, it includes the two DLC packs, The Kaisers Battle and Invasion! Faithful to its origins, the following review was played on the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S. At the time of writing, the current price is $30 to jump into the trenches once more.

Toy Soldiers HD was developed by the original studio, Signal Studios, and published by Accelerate Games. The Seattle-based studio was the original developer of the 2010 success and I was excited about what they could do given how much more powerful both online infrastructure and hardware have become. I recall playing this back in 2011 and loving how replayable each skirmish was, due to how many different variables were at your fingertips.

From the moment you fire up Toy Soldiers HD you can see and feel that this is a raw port through and through. The loveably, cheesy vintage song plays and classic oversaturated colors of lead-based paint and miniature models fill the screen as you’d expect. The game is as charming as ever, but as you load into the first campaign mission, the novelty wears off.

You will command one side of a world WWI conflict where your opponent will rush at you in waves. As expected your defenses will be tested more and more as the waves continue. Some missions have a different variety like boss battles the farther you get into the campaign, but the premise stays the same. You switch between a top-down god view to a 3rd person action game to eliminate the enemy forces and achieve victory. You are in control of placing battlements, defensive equipment like barbed wire and calling in various strikes from your top-down view. However, when you zoom into an encampment like a machine turret you’ll aim and mow down the enemy cavalry and infantry as they attempt to overrun your position. Each kill earns you more money that you can use to purchase new ordinance, upgrade your encampments, repair damaged equipment, and more. I typically am too bullish in these types of games and end up painting myself into a corner regularly. For this reason, I played on easy and thought it was a good balance for my play style.

Jumping into the single-player campaign reminded me how much more I expect to be onboarded by a game’s initial tutorial.  It’s not to say that the first few hours of the game aren’t curated enough, but it does stand out as a bit more obtuse of an interface than we’re used to today. Today’s game landscape of remakes, remastered and reimagining muddy the water for consumers as to what distinguishes the level of quality attached to a dollar value. In this case, with a $30 asking price, I’d expect more than just a port. Furthermore, I had anticipated the game to look and run much better than what I saw with the title of “HD.”

Everyone has played a bad game in high fidelity; likewise, we’ve all loved low-resolution gems that are just fun to play. Sadly, Toy Soldiers HD lies somewhere in between. The same fun, I felt in 2010 was there. I thought about how I could jump from one end of the battlefield to the other in order to counter an offensive. However, the game’s fidelity and resolution were so antiquated at this point, that it was very distracting and didn’t meet my expectations of what $30 should buy you as a consumer. Every game doesn’t need 4k, HDR, 120FPS, and ray-tracing. However, every game’s visual presentation should complement the gameplay. In this case, I didn’t think the “High Definition” was present in the package and the muddy polygons running at me weren’t as charming as they once were.

Another disappointment was when I tried to test the online gameplay. At the time of review and running the latest version available, I could not join or host an online session. My collaborating reviewer was on an Xbox Series S and said he was able to get into an online session, however on my Series X, I was unable to join him. After an hour of reinstalling, restarting, and refreshing I am afraid I have to report that I was unable to test the multiplayer aspect of the game due to the game’s technical faults.

I wanted to like Toy Soldiers HD. Every time I started having fun though, something about the visuals or tedious exposition pushed me away. The multiplayer not functioning for me is so disappointing when this original game was one of the early showpieces of how online multiplayer can create infinite replay-ability given the right support. In the end, I have to advise that only the most hardcore fans shell out the asking price to march into these trenches. I have to raise the white flag and say wait for a deep sale if you’re at all interested.

Pumpkin Jack New-Gen Edition out now on PlayStation 5 & Xbox Series X|S

Pumpkin Jack New-Gen Edition, an enhanced version of the well-received PS4, Xbox One & PC 3D platformer from Thunderful Publishing and Headup Games, has made the leap to next-gen and is now available on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S.

Carved from the legacy of old-school 3D platformers like MediEvil and Jak & Daxter, solo developer Nicolas Meyssonnier successfully melds his love of those titles with a modern approach and sets it all in a spookily atmospheric world that finds fun in monsters, ghouls and devilish challenges. Harnessing the power of the PS5 and Xbox One Series X|S, the New-Gen Edition brings enhancements that have the eponymous Jack grinning more vibrantly than ever before.

On PS5 and Xbox Series X|S, Pumpkin Jack New-Gen Edition has a Performance Mode that targets up to 4K resolution at 60fps. On PS5 and Xbox Series X, a Quality Mode is also available that targets up to 4K resolution at 30fps, adding higher quality effects and shadows with ray-tracing.

Making this Halloween treat just that little bit sweeter is the fact that Pumpkin Jack is cross-buy on both PlayStation and Xbox platforms. So, if you already own Pumpkin Jack on PS4/Xbox One, you’ll automatically get access to the PS5/Xbox Series X|S New-Gen Edition at no extra cost!

Stepping into the shoes of the mythical pumpkin lord, Pumpkin Jack New-Gen Edition sees you set out on an epic quest to help evil triumph over good. 3D platforming challenges in the colourful and diverse Arc En Ciel Kingdom are mixed with fun combat encounters where you can deploy an awesome arsenal of weapons (occasionally with a snarky crow or haughty owl fighting at your side), as well as solve light puzzles and take on various mini-game challenges.

“I’m delighted to bring Pumpkin Jack to new consoles at this appropriately spooky time of year,” said Pumpkin Jack developer Nicolas Meyssonnier. “The addition of ray-tracing and other enhancements I’ve been able to make over the last-gen version makes this the definitive edition of Pumpkin Jack!”