Toronto: Visit the House of X This Weekend

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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In honour of the upcoming release of Assassin’s Creed Origins, Ubisoft is inviting fans across Canada to explore and discover the mysteries of Ancient Egypt in a mobile-first campaign.

By visiting ExploreAncientEgypt.com, you’ll be able to take a guided tour that will reveal worlds both dangerous and beautiful while also being treated to exclusive in-game content. Three unique tours are available (as described by the press release):

  • Mysteries of the Ancient Kingdom – enter the bowels of the Egyptian tombs before anyone else.
  • Into the Nile – discover the impressive and dangerous wildlife of Ancient Egypt on foot, horseback, and by boat.
  • Extreme Egypt – brave sandstorms, slide down the Great Pyramid, and dive into the mighty Nile.

These interactive experiences will be available to Canadians until October 25th, and you’ll be able to share your own personal highlight reel of up to three 5-second videos by using a tool that will allow you to add your own filters and stickers before posting to social media with the hashtag #ExploreAncientEgypt.

What’s more, all those who participate will also have the chance to win a variety of prizes, including an Xbox One X console, and you can increase your odds by sharing your tale on social media.

Assassin’s Creed Origins arrives for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Windows PC on October 27th. For more details about the game, please 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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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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As mentioned in my review of LEGO Worlds, one of the keys to Minecraft‘s longevity that they will have to contend with is the ongoing support the latter has received over the last several years following its launch in 2011. That trend continues this week with no less than three updates to the console* versions of the game.

First up is the addition of a new mini-game simply known as “Glide,” which allows players to use their Elytras to do as the name suggests over a track filled with shortcuts and secrets (and maybe even some secret shortcuts). Different modes include Score Attack, which has you flying through rings for points; Time Attack, in which you’ll need to master the use of speed boosters and employ thermal drafts to shave off precious seconds; and a race against up to 15 competitors in Glide Multiplayer.

For more details about Glide, check out this post on the official blog.

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If you want to look the part when you’re at your Gliding best, then you might want to look into picking up the Mini Game Masters Skin Pack, where you can deck your character out in the garb of Team Guardian, Team Creeper, or Team Zombie. You can get a better look at each available skin here.

Suit up with your team of choice for just $1.99 for the pack.

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Finally, it’s Morphin’ Time!

With Saban’s Power Rangers kicking butt in theatres, Mojang is going old school with a new Minecraft Skin Pack based on the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers TV show. In addition to the six costumed teenagers with attitude, screens also show Alpha 5, the original Megazord, Ninjor, Rita Repulsa, Lord Zedd, Goldar, Scorpina, and Rito Revolto. You can check those out here. Hm, think they managed to include Dragonzord and the Thunderzords as well?

The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Skin Pack is available for $2.99.

* From what’s stated in the blogs and press materials, it sounds like the Glide mini-game and Mini Game Masters Skin Pack are available only for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, but not Wii U. The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Skin Pack is for “Minecraft: Console Edition, Minecraft: Windows 10 Edition, and Minecraft: Pocket Edition, which I think may leave the Wii U version out again. I’ll update this if I hear otherwise.

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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It’s a thought that’s passed through many a gamer’s mind: “What if there was a service that was like Netflix, but with games?”

Granted, to that end, there is the GameFly service in the States, but that only serves the physical side of the medium. But when people say it, they’re more likely thinking on the digital side of things.

Today, so is Microsoft as they’ve announced their upcoming Xbox Game Pass. Launching in 30 countries this spring, you’ll have unlimited access to over 100 Xbox One and backwards compatible Xbox 360 games for $11.99 CAD ($9.99 USD) each month. Among the titles to be a part of the service are: Halo 5: Guardians, Saints Row IV Re-Elected, NBA 2K16, Mad Max, LEGO Batman, Mega Man Legacy Collection, Terraria, Payday 2, Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, Fable III, SoulCalibur II, and Tekken Tag 2.

From Xbox Wire:

One of the best things about Xbox Game Pass is that you can discover and download the full titles directly on your Xbox One. That means continuous, full-fidelity gameplay without having to worry about streaming, bandwidth or connectivity issues. In addition, all Xbox One games in the catalog – and related add-ons – will be available to purchase at an exclusive discount for Xbox Game Pass members, so you can make the games you love part of your permanent library to play whenever you want. Every month new games will cycle into the subscription with some cycling out, giving you a constantly-updating library of games. Xbox Game Pass is your ticket to endless play.

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Basically, it’s the ultimate “try before you buy” program, with the aforementioned discount being 20 percent off a game that’s in the catalog at the time, and 10 percent off of related add-ons and consumables for that same duration.

Xbox Game Pass won’t go live until later this Spring, but until then, select members of the Xbox Insider program have early access to the service as we speak. At the moment, those able to participate will be able to try out a pared-down version of what will be the final experience, including a more limited catalog of around 20 games, “many of them arcade” and not including the above-mentioned titles. The main purpose, of course, is to test for and report bugs in the service before they move on to a wider roll-out. Incidentally, the preview will also be without localization, i.e. it’s English-only for the moment, but will be appropriately localized when the program goes live to the wider Xbox community.

For more information, including a handy FAQ, head on over to the official Xbox Game Pass 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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Have you ever managed to outflank, outmaneuver, out-strategize, or even just plain outwit someone to declare victory?

If so, then you may want to share this tale of valour with Xbox Canada on Facebook. Doing so will give you the chance to see your epic transformed and brought to life in the form of an animated webisode, meme, or movie poster.

To celebrate the upcoming launch of Halo Wars 2, Xbox Canada is giving fans the opportunity to bring their greatest tales of valour to life. Think back to your hardest-won battle. Was it in-game or IRL? Who did you best? What were the stakes? Did you stay 2 steps ahead at all times; or blindside them with something unexpected?

Starting today, fans across Canada can share their best stories with Xbox Canada for the chance to have them immortalized forever, from a funny gif to a dramatic movie poster or the top spot – a fully animated and narrated video detailing their triumph – it’s never been more important to know your enemy.

It should be a good time in the lead-up to the launch of Halo Wars 2 on Xbox One and Windows 10 on February 21st (Ultimate Edition owners will get to play four days early on February 17th). I just hope the animated webisodes aren’t unlike the spots seen embedded above.

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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