May 7, 2020

Xbox: Microsoft reveals first games for Series X console


Microsoft has revealed some of the first third-party games that will be optimised for its next-generation console, the Xbox Series X.

The Xbox livestream featured previously unseen footage of the highly anticipated Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla.

But many viewers complained too little gameplay was displayed.

Both Microsoft and PlayStation-maker Sony have promised to deliver their latest consoles in time for Christmas 2020.

Typically, Microsoft holds an annual showcase of games at the E3 show in Los Angeles.

But this year’s conference was cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Instead, the gaming giant showcased a series of upcoming games developed by third-party studios in a livestream.

Vampire: The Masquerade
Image captionVampire: The Masquerade uses advanced lighting effects

They included:

  • racing game Dirt 5, which will let players drive around in ultra-high definition 4K at 60 frames per second (fps) or switch down to a lower resolution for even smoother gameplay at 120fps
  • mystery-horror game The Medium, which will take advantage of the Xbox Series X’s ray-tracing capabilities, to deliver advanced lighting effects
  • Second Extinction, in which players work as a team to take down large groups of mutated dinosaurs
Racing cars in Dirt 5
Image captionLightning strikes in Dirt 5

Speaking during the livestream, Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla creative director Ashraf Ismail – from developer Ubisoft – said the new console offered significant improvements for players.

“Assassin’s Creed has always been committed to new technology in order to push the most immersive experience that we possibly can.” he said.

“To have incredibly fast loading times means we can remove some of the friction from the immersion.

“So to be able to push them further is really wonderful for us.”

Media captionWatch: First look at Viking-themed Assassin’s Creed

Several of the new games will be part of Microsoft’s “smart delivery” deal, which lets people play games they have purchased on any compatible Xbox console they own.

For example, a player who buys a game on the Xbox One S and then upgrades to an Xbox Series X will not have to buy the game again, if it is part of the deal.

However, many viewers complained Microsoft had promised to show off “gameplay” but the stream had mostly featured trailers and pre-rendered cinematic game footage.

“Where was the gameplay?” asked one viewer on YouTube.

“Do they know the difference?” asked another.

Twitter post by @LaurakBuzz: I stand corrected, more flashy trailer cutscenes time haha. YEP, when they said gameplay, they mean a trailer of quick cuts, not actual playing of the game. That's a shame.

Microsoft said it would host another stream in July, revealing games from its own studios.

That will include Halo Infinite, a new game from the hugely successful Halo franchise.

Presentational grey line


By David Molloy

Technology reporter

The specifications of the new Xbox Series X have been known for a while now.

And its graphical power will be on par with a top-end consumer graphics card for gaming computers.

But nothing on show in Microsoft’s livestream was mind-blowingly realistic or light years ahead of current gaming.

The Xbox team promised everything it revealed was representative of real gameplay.

But it was all carefully curated.

And there were no live gameplay demos – nobody sat down and talked viewers through one of the games.

If the cinematics really reflect the quality of the graphics that will be released later this year, then they will certainly be impressive, particularly the lighting and many explosions on show.

That is important, because developers often design games with consoles in mind.

And this should set a new baseline – one that includes better effects and sharper visuals.

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