Unity and Universal Open Worldwide GameDev Challenge

A worldwide contest was recently announced by Univeral Games and Unity Technologies, the “Universal GameDev Challenge,” which is sponsored by Microsoft and Intel. The goal is to reach out to Unity developers around the world to build a PC game which utilizes one of five of the following intellectual properties owned by Universal: Jaws, Battlestar Galactica, DreamWorks Voltron Legendary Defender, Turok, and my personal favorite, Back to the Future.

The winner and the runner-up will not only take home a combined cash prize worth $250,000, but also a consulting contract with Microsoft, Unity, and Universal.

According to the announcement, “this marks the first time that Universal is providing developers with an open invitation to create games based on some of its most popular films and television shows. Independent game developers will have a unique opportunity to work on NBCUniversal IP and share their creative vision.”

What’s more, none other than Back to the Future co-creator, co-writer, and co-producer Bob Gale will be one of the four judges on the contest’s panel. Joining him will be Geogrify Chief Executive Officer and Principal Consultant Kate Edwards, Voltron Legendary Defender showrunner and Co-executive Producer for Dreamworks TV Lauren Montgomery, and GamesBeat Lead Writer Dean Takahashi.

“The partnership between Unity and Universal, with sponsorship from Intel and Microsoft, is the perfect blend of advanced hardware and software, combined with classic film and TV properties, which we believe will inspire our developer community to bring those brands to life in a game of their dreams,” said Unity Technologies Vice President of Marketing, Kat Strafford. “We can’t wait to see the incredible content that comes to life from the Universal GameDev Challenge.”

“The Universal Games Dev Challenge is an entirely new approach for entertainment and media companies to work with the indie game community,” adds Universal Brand Development Executive Vice President of Games and Digital Platforms, Chris Heatherly. “The incredible properties we are showcasing in this contest are only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the vast portfolio of IP we have at NBCUniversal. This is a fresh and innovative way for us to find developers who are passionate about bringing those properties to life through games.”

It should be interesting (and hopefully exciting) to see what the indie gaming community comes up with for these properties. Some have already been featured across multiple video games before — Turok is especially notable in this regard, as he might even be better known today for his video game appearances than the comic books which spawned them. Meanwhile, Back to the Future has seen highs and lows, from the praised Back to the Future: The Game by Telltale Games on more recent platforms to the maligned Back to the Future for the Nintendo Entertainment System, and various others in-between. Jaws has seen even less fortune in this arena, with the most notorious being the NES title that came from the same publisher as that platform’s Back to the Future titles, the now long-defunct LJN.

Universal announced last year that they were significantly building up their games division with the intent of taking on a more active approach to both developing and publishing titles. The Universal GameDev Challenge marks one of their first “bold” steps moving forward.

For more information about the Universal GameDev Challenge, including rules, terms, how to submit your project, and more, visit the Unity Connect page here and click on “Briefing”. For the full press release, which includes the Challenge Timeline, visit BackToTheFuture.com.

Sea of Thieves for the Xbox One and Windows 10 PC launches on March 20th, but starting today, you can embark on a journey to win some real treasure in the form of a bunch of UK Hallmarked 18-carat golden bananas, valued at £20,000 per banana.

Beginning today at 12:00am PT, a series of 15 riddles will be released, and on Wednesday, March 21st at 13:00 PT (1:00pm PT), participants will have seven hours to visit xbox.com/thebananaquest and input their answers for a chance at solving the final riddle on March 22nd. This Quest is worldwide, however, and the riddles will be scattered about both online and across several real-life locations, including Key West, Florida; London, United Kingdom; Berlin, Germany; Sydney, Australia; Paris, France; and Victoria, Canada.

For more details and to register your crew, visit xbox.com/thebananaquest. They also say that this is the best place for viewing riddles as they’re released, but that you’ll want to keep your good eye on Xbox on Facebook, Rare, and local social channels (whatever that means — stuff like Xbox Canada on Facebook, perhaps?) as well.

As noted, Sea of Thieves comes to Xbox One and Windows 10 PCs tomorrow, and will also be available on Xbox Game Pass at launch, too. And if you like, there’s still time to pre-order to get the exclusive Black Dog Pack (which contains clothing a salty dog such as yourself might find stylish, and items featuring “unique, spectacular designs”).

If you’re not too busy eating like a winner in Toronto, then Xbox Canada has another way for you to up your game.

Partnering with Nike to celebrate the recent and upcoming releases of the Air Jordan III line of sneakers, they will be giving away three one-of-a-kind Xbox One X consoles inspired by the famed shoes. Behold:

From right to left, the consoles above are based on the Air Jordan III Free Throw Line, which was just released on February 14th; the Air Jordan III Black Cement, which will be available tomorrow, February 17th; and the Air Jordan III Tinker, which doesn’t have a page yet for some reason, and will be available on March 24th.

So how do you win?

You’ll find your opportunities between Friday, February 16th at 6am PST and Wednesday, February 21st at 10pm PST if you follow Xbox on Twitter. Further details can be found here, and if you’re interested in the history of these shoes, then check out Jumpman23.com.

Wait, “Jumpman”? That sounds familiar…

After crossing the threshold of three million players on Xbox Live, Xbox Canada is celebrating PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds‘ success by inviting fans of the game across Toronto to dinner — a chicken dinner, of course.

Winner’s Dinners has set up shop in Toronto at 38 Ossington Avenue, and if you head on over between the hours of 6pm to 11pm from Friday, February 16th through Sunday, February 18th, you’ll be treated to a pleasant experience — provided you survive it.

Upon entering, you’ll find a regular, run-of-the-mill chicken restaurant.

Each table features a trio of bottles containing a variety of flavored special sauces with which you can enhance the flavour of that juicy chicken. Plus, there’s a phone number for you to call to find out more about Winner’s Dinners!

A friendly, well-dressed staff is there and ready to take your order.

But there’s something odd about this menu…

Indeed, this is no ordinary restaurant. (Duh, I’d probably be writing about it under Fast Food Culture on PoisonMushroom.Org if it was.) For you see, this establishment caters to a rather… exclusive clientele. Before you can get to the goods, they will ask you — and you must also ask yourself:

Are you a winner?

If you do indeed fancy yourself as one who wins, then you’ll be led to a back room:

Thirteen stations will be available for winners of all shapes and sizes to prove themselves at PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (or PUBG, if you prefer). Two are set up for squads of four players each, and another two for duos, two more for singles, and one final station in the very back at a picnic table, set up to stream through the Xbox Mixr Channel all throughout the weekend (or during operating hours, at the very least).

But that’s not all!

This fully-armed and operational bar is equipped to serve a variety of drinks, be they celebratory or merely recreational (though you’ll be asked to provide the proper ID if you decide to go for anything alcoholic). You’re allowed one free drink, but any more will be on your dime.

And then there’s what you’ve all been waiting for:

Feast your eyes on this feast of chicken dinners!

And better still, everyone is a winner at Winner’s Dinners! That means everyone who attends will get to partake in a dinner of succulent, juicy, expertly-seasoned chicken — plus, a side of coleslaw and a biscuit (which even the Colonel’s Canadian operations have seen fit to deny us for decades, but I don’t want to get off on a rant).

Now, I know what you might be thinking: “Wait, if the chicken’s free, then I don’t need to fight anyone for it. I’ll just take my chicken and be on my way — how’s that for being a winner, suckers?!”

If you are thinking that, then 1) you’re kind of a jerk, and 2) you’re going to take your eye off the even bigger prize.

Provided you manage to prove you’re a winner among winners and earn your rightful place and the chicken dinner winner, then you’ll receive a t-shirt which declares as much for all the world to see:

Take it in: You just know anyone who sports that around town isn’t going to be dining alone tonight. On the other hand, they might have to share.

If that’s not enough to whet your appetite, then there’s an even bigger (yes, really!) prize at stake:

Each day, Winner’s Dinners (courtesy of Xbox Canada, of course) will be giving away one (1) Xbox One S PUBG bundle, which contains (per Xbox Wire):

  • An Xbox One S with a 1TB hard drive, Xbox Wireless Controller, built-in 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player, support for 4K video streaming, premium audio with Dolby Atmos and access to a games library of over 1,300 games like Forza Motorsport 7 and Cuphead.
  • Full-game download of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. Join the battle playing solo, or team up with friends in duos or squads. With the Xbox One S PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds Bundle, you’re one step closer to earning your first chicken dinner.
  • 1-month Xbox Live Gold trial so you can experience the most advanced multiplayer network.
  • 1-month Xbox Game Pass trial so you can discover over 100 Xbox One games across three generations of games. Xbox Game Pass members will also receive access to new games from Microsoft Studios like Sea of Thieves, State of Decay 2 and Crackdown 3 on the same date as at their global launch.

This whole package is valued at a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price of $379.00, and won’t be available in stores until February 20th — meaning not only will you be loaded, but you’ll be loaded early. Who can resist that?

So head on down, it won’t even cost you a tenner, and enjoy the taste of victory at Winner’s Dinner!

Oh, and make sure you’re cool with all this before you go. I don’t want to hear about anyone wasting bus fare because they’re camera-shy:

Have you gotten your hands on the recently-released Xbox One X yet?

If you’re the owner of a 4K television, then my review admittedly didn’t tell you a lot (what can I say? I work with what I’ve got). But if you’d like to go hands-on and feel the power of X for yourself, then there’s good news — at least, if you can be in Toronto sometime over the next three days.

Beginning today, Saturday, November 18th, Xbox Canada is hosting the House of X, a series of events where you can experience Microsoft’s newest console in all its glory. Through Monday, November 20th, the doors will be open at 11am for you to swing by 202 Queen Street West (M5V 1Z2) and strap in. But from 8 to 11pm each night, there will be an exclusive game night event to partake in.

For Saturday, this will be “A Game Night Far Far Away,” which will pit good versus evil in huge online battles in some game or another. With a name like that, it could be anything. Regardless, will you be the star of this war? Sunday, November 19th is “Hockey Night in Toronto,” as players hit the ice in 4K, and Monday, November 20th, “Slam Dunx” will bring a bit of B-ball action to the streets of the 6ix. Boom shakalaka!

While you can drop by at any time during the day, the attendance for the nighttime events is limited, so be sure to RSVP on the event’s Facebook page to ensure you’ve got a spot.

And for those of you not in Toronto? Worry not, as this would appear to be only the first of several House of X “activations” to come soon. I’ll try to keep you up on any more details if I hear them here, but following Xbox Canada on Facebook and Twitter would be a great way to hedge your bets.

Today marks the official release of the Xbox One X console from Microsoft — were you able to get one?

If not (or perhaps even if so), then this opportunity may be of particular interest to you if you’re in Toronto: Visitors to the south end of Trinity Bellwoods Park (located at 790 Queen St. West) at 4pm on Tuesday, November 7th will have the chance to claim one of five free Xbox One X consoles by using the Frenzy app.

But these aren’t just any Xbox One X consoles, oh no. Each is a one-of-a-kind custom design by Legends League founder Bryan Espiritu, who has taken inspiration from each of Toronto’s four main neighbourhoods (Westend, Eastend, Uptown, and Downtown), as well as his own signature pattern featuring most major areas from the Greater Toronto Area. Check ’em out:

Best of luck to those who participate!

News Source: Sidewalk Hustle, Xbox Canada

I’ve been at this “writing about video games” thing for a long time, and even so, I’m still sometimes surprised when someone wants my opinion on something. Not that I don’t think my opinion has value, but for instance, I don’t think anyone really cares what I think about the newest Madden game. Heck, I’m not even sure I do.

So that’s why it came as a surprise to me when Microsoft approached me about reviewing their newest console (or console iteration, if you prefer), the Xbox One X. More than anything, it’s known for pushing 4K gaming as the selling point. It’s even right there on the box: “4K Blu-ray, 4K Ultra HD, HDR” — all things I’ve only had the pleasure of experiencing at media events and FanExpo.

I told them as much, and while I expected them to snatch it out of my hands so fast it would make the Tasmanian Devil dizzy, that wasn’t the case. Even some of the stuff I filled out (without getting into details) took into consideration that scrubs like me who are just getting by might not have the new hotness in home entertainment visual displays.

And so that’s where this review is coming from: What I call the “everyman” perspective, in that I’m hoping I’m not some lone kook who is the equivalent of someone trying to use rabbit ears in a cable TV world and that there are others like myself who may be gaming in high definition, just not definition that high.

So hey, what all does this thing come with for your money, anyway? Well, if you saw my unboxing video, you would already know, but here’s the overall gist: You get a 1TB Xbox One X console, a standard Xbox One wireless controller (one of my favorite controllers of all time, and the newer kind that can plug into your computer with a USB cable, at that), a pair of AA batteries for said wireless controller, an HDMI cable, a Starter Pack (with instructions and codes for Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Live Gold), and a power cord that connects directly to the console itself — no unwieldy power bricks here!

But man, the weight of the console! No power brick on the outside means they had to put that stuff somewhere, and right into the casing it went! The Xbox One X is fairly diminutive compared to the the original console, but at just over eight pounds, it’s surprisingly heavy compared to its larger and lighter seven pound predecessor. And while I love my bulky black behemoth, trying to navigate the wires in the back while it’s in my entertainment centre is something of a nightmare, as I even hurt myself in the process at one point over the summer. The dimensions of the Xbox One X falls more closely in line with the original PlayStation 4, which has proven a fair bit easier to navigate.

To my disappointment (but not my surprise, as we knew about this), there is no Kinect port on the Xbox One X. With the recent discontinuation of the product, it’s no small wonder, but even though I don’t use the motion control aspect, I’ve grown to love other functions of the device. But while Xbox One S adopters had a period in which they would be provided an adapter which allowed them to continue telling their console to turn on when they walk in the room, Xbox One X will apparently not have any such program in place.

This really kind of puts the screws to those who held out for the bigger and badder Project Scorpio. It’s already a more expensive console, and at $49.99, the adapter isn’t quite what I would call “cheap” in a conventional sense (that’s anywhere from half to the entire price of a whole new game, depending).

The new console keeps one of my favorite things about the original Xbox One: The chime that plays when you start it up. It’s such a simple but pleasant little thing, though it sounds slightly different this time, like there’s more of an echo to it. Also worth noting is that the power button is an actual button this time. While I enjoyed being able to turn the Xbox One on at a simple touch, the problem was that my cats did, too.

Once that’s done, you’re greeted with a new boot animation exclusive to the console, as shown off by Microsoft’s Larry “Major Nelson” Hryb on Twitter:



Basic setup follows, and like the original Xbox One, they were even kind enough to include “English (Canada)” as a language option. No choosing between American English and the Queen’s English for us! And of course, if you’ve got an Xbox Live account, practically everything you’ve saved, purchased, or downloaded on the original carries right over with incredible ease.

Okay, so here’s the skinny: I tried out three different games across both the Xbox One and the Xbox One X with my regular old non-4K television. Two separate inputs, each set to “Game” mode, of course, to compare the graphics and sound.

First up was Super Lucky’s Tale, a 3D platformer with a cartoon graphic style. To be honest, even with the downloadable 4K enhancement patch, I was hard pressed to notice much difference between how it ran on the two platforms.

The same could be said when I tried out the not-yet enhanced Middle-earth: Shadow of War. The game features a higher level of detail, but unlike Super Lucky’s Tale, I felt hard-pressed to notice much difference. I think it looked a little crisper on Xbox One X, but as I had to swap the disc between the two consoles versus hitting the input button, it was tough to be certain. In truth, with the slight blacked-out screen delay when switching inputs, the comparison wasn’t as seamless as I had hoped regardless.

The third and final graphical test came from Killer Instinct, one of my favourites and main motivators for me to get an Xbox One in the first place. It has a more detailed art style than Super Lucky’s Tale, but isn’t quite so realistic as Shadow of War; a firm middle-ground, I like to think.

Interestingly, between the regular and enhanced versions across the two consoles, this is where I saw the most difference, albeit still not a huge one. Pitting Kilgore against Fulgore in Ultratech Industries, I set up a CPU vs. CPU battle and swapped between the two as they duked it out.

Things seemed a little sharper there, and the glow of the molten metal in the background seemed just slightly warmer. It was most noticeable (if not especially so) on the victory screen, as the colors on the Xbox One X were brighter and more vibrant than on the original Xbox One.

In terms of sound? I noticed no real difference on all three games. But then, I’m also using my television’s speakers, so that may be something to account for and research more if you have something like a surround sound system.

(Incidentally, I’d provide side-by-side screen comparisons, but the built-in screen capture functionality seemed to yield the exact same quality from both consoles.)

You might be thinking that since there’s minimal difference between the two on a regular high definition television, there’s no reason to go with an Xbox One. Well, that’s not entirely true. While I can’t compare with the similarly-sized Xbox One S, I did notice some improvements over the original Xbox One in some other areas. Specifically, loading times.

When loading up Killer Instinct, the Xbox One X beat the original out by a few seconds when loading up a match. Likewise, when installing Shadow of Mordor from a disc, the 33.13GB file saw the newer console edge out the older one by a few minutes: Approximately 30:49.49 to 33:45.87.

But where it truly blew me away was downloading a game online. This test was by no means scientific and probably not under optimal conditions, and I can’t account for possible variables (one slightly closer to the router, a cat sleeping between them, etc.) affecting the outcome, so think of this as a “real world” workout. Also, it was done wirelessly, as I can’t get the Ethernet cable to plug in securely to the back of my Xbox One. I performed the test using Super Lucky’s Tale and downloaded it to each platform one at a time.

The difference was astounding.

To download the 8.37GB title took the original Xbox One 1:14:34.64 — that’s 1 hour, 14 minutes, and just over 34 seconds. I noticed that it was hiccuping a bit along the way, occasionally (but not constantly) ceasing the process for a second or three at a time before resuming (based on the display of the rate of data transfer).

And the Xbox One X?

14:42.72.

You’re not misreading that. Just seconds shy of an entire hour less time to download the game, and I didn’t notice any hiccuping along the way.

So is the Xbox One X worth getting if you don’t have a 4K television? That’s kind of a tough one to say.

The price of 4K televisions is coming down, and it impresses on that kind of display, so as a means of future-proofing, I think so. Plus, if your primary way of playing games is downloading them from online storefronts and you hate a long wait, then this will definitely have you covered. But from a strictly visual standpoint, if you don’t think you’ll be getting a new television in the near future, an Xbox One or Xbox One S should hold you over handily.

Of course, if you spot this sucker on a good Black Friday sale, maybe you should grab it — especially if you don’t have an Xbox One already.

As the console is on loan to me from Microsoft for a little while yet, I’m going to continue playing games and looking for things, and if I come across anything of particular note, I’ll be sure to update this article and give it a good bump on the front page.

Coming soon to Mario’s Hat: A review of the Xbox One X!

I just went to pick mine* up yesterday, and that’s really all I can say about that until the embargo lifts. In fact, I’m not even sure I can say when the embargo lifts, so looking at the wording in my email, I’m not taking any chances. You’ll see it here when it happens, though.

For now, what I can do is show you what’s inside the Xbox One X box I received:

Apologies for the graininess of the image — this apartment is ill-suited for this type of thing, and I’m reminded of why I don’t do more live-action video content. On the upside, this video also has cats! How many other Xbox One X unboxings can you say have that? (Don’t answer that. Or do. I like cats, so seeing more is good.)

So please check back in (or follow Mario’s Hat on Twitter) for my review, which I expect might lend a more unique perspective to things than other outlets.

* “Mine” is a very loose term in this instance — the unit is a loaner, not mine to keep. And while I haven’t yet plugged it in and tried it as of this writing, I’m sure it’s going to be painful to part with when the borrowing period ends.

David Oxford is a freelance writer of many varied interests. If you’re interested in hiring him, please drop him a line at david.oxford (at) nyteworks.net.

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Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, The LEGO Group, and TT Games have announced several new updates for LEGO Worlds that will treat you to some new tricks.

The first arrives just in time for All Hallows’ Eve, as Monsters invade the Worlds of LEGO!

This trip down to Monster Town will cost you $3.99, allowing you to partake in scary quests, face (and perhaps flee from) creatures most terrifying, and speed past haunted houses in ghoulish vehicles. Just watch out for delinquent zombies, who are only to happy to treat themselves to your plastic yellow flesh! You’ll have to be extra-tricky to scare them off so you can repair their damage as only a Master Builder can.

And of course, while Halloween may come only once a year, you can enjoy this Monster Pack year-round.

Incidentally, if you decide to go in on the Nintendo Switch version at retail for $39.99, you’ll receive the Monster Pack as well as the previously-released Classic Space Pack, whereas the digital version found for $29.99 in the Nintendo eShop has it available separately, and it’s available for purchase on the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Steam versions.

Next up is a free update which allows you to create and film your videos with the new Camera Car:

One or two players can make use of the vehicle, creating original action scenes or remaking favorite film moments in LEGO style.

Other new features added are covered in this video:

Among the highlights detailed in the press release are The Planner, which allows players to use various materials and pre-built wall types to build their LEGO structures faster and easier than before, while other tools have been upgraded “significantly” so that players’ enjoyment will be maximized. Revised search functionality should help make the Discovery Menu easier to navigate, and new shapes in the Landscape Tool should help improve how players edit their worlds.

If you’re interested in more about the game itself, at least as it initially launched, be sure to check out my review here.

David Oxford is a freelance writer of many varied interests. If you’re interested in hiring him, please drop him a line at david.oxford (at) nyteworks.net.

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Xbox Canada has announced that the Xbox One X Gamerscore Challenge is now on, and you could win your very own Xbox One X.

From September 27th until October 22nd, those five Xbox gamers who manage to increase their Gamerscores the most will win a brand-spanking new Xbox One X with a copy of the soon-to-be-released Forza Motorsport 7 — as easy as that! Of course, it’s easier said than done, as there are numerous ways to play lots of Xbox games and send your score soaring, and you can find those detailed here on the contest page.

And even if you don’t win the new console, worry not: Five winners will be chosen from among all the participants to win a new Xbox One controller as well.

Good luck to all participants!

David Oxford is a freelance writer of many varied interests. If you’re interested in hiring him, please drop him a line at david.oxford (at) nyteworks.net.

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XboxOneSHotWheelsBundleAttention, race fans! Or even just driving fans, really.

Microsoft has announced that a new Xbox One S bundle is now available, and included with the 500GB console (which, they note, features “High Dynamic Range for video and gaming, premium audio, a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player and 4K video streaming with partners like Netflix and Hulu”) and wireless controller, you’ll also get to start your choice of engine with the included copy of Forza Horizon 3, an open world driving game which takes you across the Outback as you play host to the latest Horizon Festival. What’s more, you’ll have access to the game on your Windows 10 PC, for when getting in front of the TV is out.

Better still, this bundle also includes the Hot Wheels expansion pack for Forza Horizon 3 that was released earlier this year, a one-month subscription for Xbox Game Pass, and 14 days of Xbox Live Gold.

All this can be yours for $349 CAD, and it’s available now at participating retailers and the Microsoft Store, where as of this writing, you can also get a free select game, $15 off a select Xbox Wireless Controller, and $10 off Xbox Live Gold membership (your choice of 3 or 6 months) for no extra cost.

To find out what I thought of Forza Horizon 3 (spoiler: I liked it), check out my review.

David Oxford is a freelance writer of many varied interests. If you’re interested in hiring him, please drop him a line at david.oxford (at) nyteworks.net.

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Microsoft made many announcements today at the 2017 Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, California, but perhaps none was more anticipated than the final details regarding the progressively less-mysterious “Project Scorpio.”

Now known officially as the Xbox One X, the new console will be made available in all Xbox markets on November 7th, 2017, and will be priced at $599 here in Canada.

“Xbox One X was created to deliver uncompromised power, ultimate compatibility and design excellence,” the company said in its press release. “It’s both the most powerful and smallest console Xbox has ever built.”

Xbox One X (left), sitting alongside the Xbox One S.

Xbox One X (left), sitting alongside the Xbox One S.

The company went on to explain further what the newest iteration of the Xbox One platform offers:

Games play better on Xbox One X. The world’s most powerful console begins rolling out to all Xbox One markets starting on Nov. 7. With 40 percent more power than any other console, experience immersive true 4K gaming when paired with a 4K display, such as Samsung’s flagship QLED TV. Xbox One X makes your existing library even better, with better textures, smoother framerates and faster load times, even on a 1080p TV. Xbox One X also offers the ultimate 4K entertainment package with 4K Ultra HD for Blu-ray X and streamed content, HDR support for gaming and video, and Dolby Atmos support. Xbox One X will join the Xbox One family of devices and coexist alongside Xbox One and Xbox One S, and all Xbox One games and accessories are compatible.

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Phil Spencer, Head of Xbox, would go on to announce that the lauded backwards compatibility the Xbox One features for Xbox 360 titles would be expanded further to include games from the original Xbox platform as well, beginning with Crimson Skies, and that they would look and play better than before on the Xbox One. Furthermore, “dozens” of games already available for the Xbox One will receive free updates to “take full advantage of the power of Xbox One X” by being enhanced to run in “true 4K,” including Gears of War 4, Forza Horizon 3, Minecraft, Resident Evil 7, Final Fantasy 15, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands, and Rocket League.

“Xbox One is the only console system designed to play the best games of the past, present and future,” the press release states. “The Xbox One games and accessories you already own are compatible with Xbox One X, so if you’re an Xbox gamer, chances are you already have a library of games that will look and play better on Xbox One X.”

For more information about the Xbox One X, visit the official website.

David Oxford is a freelance writer of many varied interests. If you’re interested in hiring him, please drop him a line at david.oxford (at) nyteworks.net.

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Earlier this year, Microsoft announced the Xbox Game Pass, a Netflix-like service for Xbox games that would be available in Spring 2017.

Well, Spring has finally arrived, and now, so has the Xbox Game Pass! Following the positive feedback received during the Xbox Insider Program’s beta test of the program, June 1st will be the official launch date for the subscription service, which will cost $11.99 per month for anyone with an Xbox Live account to access more than 100 Xbox One and backwards compatible Xbox 360 games. Before taking the plunge, however, a free 14-day trial period is available as well.

But wait! If you’re an Xbox Live Gold member, you don’t have to wait — you can dive in right now with a 14-day free trial before anyone else gets the chance.

Those interested in purchasing a subscription can do so at xbox.com/game-pass. Those who prefer to handle such things through retail will find that an option is due to arrive later this year.

The xbox.com/game-pass website is also where you’ll find which games are currently available, with the selection updating each month.

And don’t forget: If there’s a title available in Xbox Game Pass that you’d like to make a permanent part of your collection, you can purchase it (and any related add-ons) at an exclusive discount for being a Game Pass member.

For further details, you can read the full press release on Xbox Wire.

David Oxford is a freelance writer of many varied interests. If you’re interested in hiring him, please drop him a line at david.oxford (at) nyteworks.net.

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On the night of Wednesday, May 10th, 2017, Warner Bros. Interactive held a special Canadian launch party for the release of Injustice 2, which arrives in stores digital and physical alike next week. To my sheer delight, I was invited to partake in the event, and as such, you can now see what I got to see.


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Photograph by Evan Bergstra

The event took place at The Gallery at 99 Sudbury Street, and if that seems familiar to you, you’ve got a sharp mind — that’s the same location where Nintendo of Canada held their Yo-Kai Watch 2 preview event last September. Be sure to take an extra candy from the dish if you managed to make it out to both.


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Upon entering the building, guests were greeted by three enormous banners displaying rivals Superman and Batman, as well as a newcomer to the series in Supergirl.


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And just to your left was one of the main attractions: Four demo stations set up to run the PlayStation 4 version of Injustice 2. I managed to be one of the first ones to land a spot to try the game out, and that wound up being just a little more eventful than I realized, but more on that later.

I’ll save full thoughts on the game for when I get to review it, but I will say that as a newcomer to the series, I was expecting something a little more akin to Mortal Kombat, given that Injustice is a product of MK developer NetherRealm Studios. That turned out not to be the case, however, as it felt a bit different to not only that, but the likes of Street Fighter and Killer Instinct as well. Even though I was caught off-guard, I’m happy to say that I found it rather easy to adapt to.


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On the back wall behind the banners, there was a demo station for the mobile version of the game, which is a free-to-play app for iOS and Android that is available starting today. It expands upon the swipe and card-based gameplay of the original Injustice: Gods Among Us app, and once again allows you to unlock bonuses in the console versions of the game.


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To the left of the mobile game station, a trailer for the game ran via projection. Given you can see Batman himself looking at a series of holographic projections, it added an almost meta feeling to watching it. Nice touch.


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Further to the left on that same wall, the large “Shattered Alliances Mural” was prominently displayed, and would provide the backdrop for several pictures and interviews taken throughout the evening.


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Rounding the corner to the left wall, one would see that two local DC Comics artists from the Royal Academy of Illustration and Design, Marcus To and Francis Manapul, were in attendance. While they did not work on the game itself, they nonetheless brought with them a number of pieces which were inspired by the Injustice universe.


Photographs by Evan Bergstra

As it turns out, the event was well-catered with a number of unique dishes and an open bar. While I happily partook of the latter (albeit only for a can of Coca-Cola), I didn’t know food would be provided, or else I’d have gladly skipped lunch in favor of this.

That said, I at least made a point to try out the Food Dudes Mac & Cheese dish (seen in the two bottom-center pics), which was made on the spot and quite good. It tasted pretty much how you might expect from reading the ingredients: the mac and cheese had a relatively mild flavor, with the smoked tomato ketchup providing a contrasting balance and a bit of pop and the panko providing a bit of a satisfying crunchy texture.

Unfortunately, it’s a difficult dish to recommend; not on account of quality, but availability. I can’t seem to find it on any of their food truck or restaurant menus, only catering. So with that said, if you’re at or hosting an event catered by this company, I say it’s definitely worth a shot.

Oh, right, I’m supposed to be talking about the game.

Besides the opportunity to try the game out ahead of launch (though there has also been beta playtesting), the highlight of the night was none other than the legendary video game designer, co-creator of Mortal Kombat, and director of Injustice 2 himself, NetherRealm Studios’ Ed Boon.

In addition to talking to and taking pictures/selfies with the fans in attendance, Boon took part in a Q&A session on stage, hosted by Ajay Fry from Space:

First, apologies for the slight swaying of the camera, my arms weren’t holding up well for steadiness by this point in the evening.

I have to admit, I had no idea he worked on the likes of Defender, Missile Command, or Asteroids — and at age 16, no less. Maybe his Wikipedia page just needs updating? That, or I’m terrible at reading jokes, either is entirely possible.

At 4:35, I couldn’t help but wonder if Ajay was referencing a certain former creative for a comic book starring another world-famous video game character. Naaaah (but maybe?).

Moving to 7:56, remember how I said earlier that when I was playing, I’d have an unknowing impact on the evening? Yeah, this is it right here: I’m pretty sure I was that Flash, because I definitely beat a Swamp Thing at the start of the night. I’m not even joking. It would have been a real nervous collar-tugging moment for me, had I not been using both hands to try to steady the camera (actually, I think I might have done that anyway).

There was a brief opportunity to ask some questions with the special microphone-cube they had there, but I ended up passing — partly for the integrity of the video (watching other guys fumble to catch it was kind of fun, though; maybe I should have recorded that), but also because I have enough questions I could ask Ed Boon to fill out an entire feature-length article, so narrowing it down to just one was nigh-impossible in that time frame.

Incidentally, it’s worth noting that I did get to talk to Mr. Boon earlier in the evening, and even got my picture taken with him!


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Photograph by Evan Bergstra. There are some pics on my camera, too, but this one just looks better.

I did get to briefly ask him if he’d be interested in participating in a project I’m only just laying the groundwork for, and he seemed interested. However, that’s a way into the future, if it ever happens, but it’s a good step!

It also sounds like I might have had the biggest smile of the evening for one of these pictures, or so I was told. I guess I was more excited to meet Mr. Boon than I realized, but I am a pretty big fan of Midway, so I shouldn’t be too surprised.

As for Injustice 2, I’ll wrap things up here with this recent trailer which — as the title says — basically tells you everything you need to know about the game in just under five and a half minutes:




Injustice 2 will be available for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on Tuesday, May 16th, 2017. And as noted above, the mobile version is available today on iOS and Android devices, and is free-to-play.

Finally, a big thanks to Warner Bros. Interactive for having me out to the event; it was a great time!

All photos by David Oxford unless otherwise noted.

David Oxford is a freelance writer of many varied interests. If you’re interested in hiring him, please drop him a line at david.oxford (at) nyteworks.net.

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Once again, the folks behind the Forza games have joined forces with toy manufacturer Mattel to bring the wild world of Hot Wheels racing to the Xbox One.

The Hot Wheels Expansion is available now for both Xbox One and Windows 10, and comes as a part of the $44.99 Forza Horizon 3 Expansion Pass. Or, if you’d rather just get this expansion by itself, it’s available for $25.99 in the Microsoft Store. Either way you go, you’ll find yourself transported to a new locale in the Outback where orange roads loop and twist as far as the eye can see, to say nothing of a variety of new cars to take for a spin.

To celebrate the occasion, the expansion was streamed on the Forza Motorsport Beam and Twitch channels. You can check them out in their respective archives through the links, or catch the highlights right here:

In addition to the new Hot Wheels expansion, there’s a number of improvements which have been made to the Windows 10 version of the game, including expanded driving wheel support, improved CPU performance, updated threading affinity model, more graphical options, and an updated minimal specification. You can find out more about all of this by clicking right here.

Finally, you can find more screens showing off some of the new cars available in the Hot Wheels expansion by way of the gallery below, and if you’re interested in learning more about Forza Horizon 3 from a franchise newcomer who’s wary of driving sims, you can find my full review here.

David Oxford is a freelance writer of many varied interests. If you’re interested in hiring him, please drop him a line at david.oxford (at) nyteworks.net.

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