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Xbox One April System Update: Voice Messages, Party Chat Updates and More Now in Preview

March 26, 2015 By: Sniper Category: Whats Up?

Thanks to suggestions from our fans, we continue to focus on finding great ways to bring the Xbox community closer together. Over the past few months, we’ve introduced several features to make it easier to connect to friends and meet new people.

You may have noticed a few new features that rolled out to preview over the weekend, including game hub links and more detailed achievement notifications. Now this week, we’re bringing even more features to Xbox One in preview, making it easier to keep in touch with friends on Xbox One or Xbox 360.

Check out the list below for features in the April preview update that are starting to roll out tonight:

  • Voice messages New this month is the No. 1 feature requested in the Friends and Parties area on the Xbox Feedback site > “Add audio message …” Xbox One preview program members will be able to compose and playback voice messages in the messages app when snapped on Xbox One. Quickly and easily record audio to send to your friends or others through your snapped messages app accessed through a simple quick double tap of the Xbox button. Additionally, voice messages can be exchanged between Xbox 360 and Xbox One consoles.

  • Dedicated servers for party chat – We are committed to continuing to make improvements to party chat, designed to improve quality, reliability, and ease of use. We’re enhancing party chat with dedicated chat relay servers. This new service will enable Xbox One owners that may have historically had NAT issues to party chat more reliably. Parties where players are unable to form direct peer-to-peer connections for party chat will automatically leverage dedicated server infrastructure to relay traffic.
    • Currently, this service is only enabled for parties where one or more members are enrolled in the Xbox One Preview program. Those preview consoles enable the service for their party chat sessions, even if some of the party participants are not part of the preview program.

  • What’s On – The Xbox engineering team is continuing to experiment with the What’s On area, which highlights popular games, movies, TV shows, game broadcasts and clips. What’s On has been available for preview members in the U.S. and this month, the preview of this feature is being expanded to Canada and the UK as well. Additionally, the “Staff Picks” are now more personalized based on your recent game activity, and we’re introducing new experiments with Twitter Trending TV, and Game Clips for subsets of the preview audience.

Keep sending us your feedback and we’ll keep working on bringing you the latest and greatest features on Xbox One.

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ID@Xbox Spotlight: Pixel Galaxy Turns Space Invaders on Its Head

March 26, 2015 By: Sniper Category: Whats Up?

If you’re looking for a game that’s easy to learn, hard to master, and a blast to pick up and play anytime, look no further than Serenity Forge’s Pixel Galaxy, coming to Xbox One via ID@Xbox. Designed to put a key twist on traditional arcade shooters, Pixel Galaxy puts you in an arena, facing off against tons of enemies… with no weapons whatsoever. Your only options are to dodge, and to absorb your foes by colliding with them – but not their projectiles or weapons’ edges.

It’s considerably more challenging and addictive than it sounds. There’s a bevy of different types of enemies, and each has a different kind of attack. Latch onto one, and he becomes an attacker for you – but be careful, you don’t necessarily want to blow away some potential helpful future enemies before you get a chance to assimilate them. There’s also the issue of size and space; a game of
Pixel Galaxy takes place on a pretty small map, so the more enemies you take on, the less room you’ll have to dodge future bad guys. Not to worry, of course, as your newly assimilated friends act as hit points of sorts – but skilled players will want to plan how and where they latch onto new allies, to ensure the most efficient use of space.

You earn points for every enemy you take down, and for how long you last. You might be surprised how addictive it is to try to beat your score (and your previous time record) with each playthrough. A game of
Pixel Galaxy is a quick affair – between one and 10 minutes or so – but each session is frantic and exciting. It’s challenging without being frustrating, and the large variety of enemies and options makes no two playthroughs the same.

As its name implies,
Pixel Galaxy has a very minimalist, pixel-based art style with an old-school soundtrack. This is a lightweight, pick-up-and-play affair. That said, the visuals and audio never get boring, and the game is perfect for a little lunchtime romp or a long, after-school de-stressing session. Like a lot of modern games that have a 1980s look-and-feel, there’s more to Pixel Galaxy than meets the eye. …read more

New Ryse Achievements Now Available

March 26, 2015 By: Sniper Category: Whats Up?

Ryse fans didn’t need to be wary of the Ides of March, as three brand new achievements adding 250 gamerscore were made available to fans last week. One of the achievements revolves around the single-player campaign, while the other two require you to spend some quality time with the game’s multiplayer offerings. Now, just let us step away from the Bacchanalia for a few moments to break them down for you:

To unlock the “Beware the Ides of March” achievement players will need to complete fifteen multiplayer executions in a single match. Completing this string of kills will net players 100 gamerscore.

On a similar note, if you haven’t checked out the multiplayer mode in Ryse yet the “Lunacy in March” should be a great incentive. Simply play seven matches on the map Barbarous and 100 gamerscore is yours.

Finally, there’s the campaign-based achievement. “Et, Tu, Brute” delivers 50 gamerscore and will require players to save the Emperor in Chapter One and then kill him in Chapter Eight, all in one playthrough.

Have fun earning those achievements! …read more

ID@Xbox Spotlight: Head Down the River with your Dog in The Flame in the Flood

March 26, 2015 By: Sniper Category: Whats Up?

Survival in post-societal America is no joke. While iconic environments like the Louisiana Bayou and the Florida Everglades may have been the inspiration for The Flame in the Flood‘s unique look and feel, you won’t see much from our day and age in the game. Instead, only the remnants of a long-dead society remain for Scout – The Flame in the Flood‘s heroine – to pick through as she makes her way down the river toward her ultimate goal. What that goal is, how she reaches it, and the things she manages to scrounge, craft, and fight off on the way are what the game is all about.

At an indeterminate point in the future, Scout and her dog, Aesop, are fleeing from a deluge, heading down a procedurally generated river toward some ineffable salvation that she’s been told lies at its end. Hunger, cold, and dangerous predators will hound Scout and Aesop throughout, and it’s up to the player – and a bit of luck, since each playthrough is randomly seeded – to see the pair through their journey. The pair will find items, from bits of herbs to old tools, and will need to use them to craft all sorts of higher-level items for survival. Food and warmth are critical, too… and as Scout moves down the river, she’ll need to avoid dangerous obstacles and rapids on her raft.

Another danger is afflictions: Snake bites, wounds, illness, hypothermia, all of these can affect Scout to varying degrees of acuteness, so it’s critical that you come up with the means to either protect or heal her. The crafting system is deep and multifaceted – there are lots of ways to skin a cat – but that doesn’t mean you won’t have to take risks and get lucky to get the stuff you need.

The Flame in the Flood
, like many procedurally generated games, is challenging. But it’s a beautiful game to look at (and to listen to), with a mesmerizing, almost campfire-story feel to its aesthetic, and a real sense of desperation when things get tough. The good news is that, even should Scout bite the proverbial bullet, her dog Aesop will respawn at the beginning with the last high-level item he had with him, so you don’t start each journey over completely from square one.

Thanks to some help from Kickstarter backers,
The Flame in the Flood will include even more content than was originally slated, including a customizable raft. Combine the rich level of content with deep survival gameplay, massive replayability, and an ensorcelling aesthetic, and you have a recipe for a must-buy indie title in The Flame in the Flood, coming to Xbox One later this year via ID@Xbox. …read more

Celebrate Gaming with April’s Double Games with Gold Month

March 26, 2015 By: Sniper Category: Whats Up?

You might think April’s the perfect time to joke around – but we have no intention of doing that here at Xbox. Instead, we want to take a moment to appreciate you, the Xbox gamer. Over the course of the Games with Gold program, more than 100 million games have been downloaded, with over 5 billion Gamerscore earned. That’s countless hours in the shoes of iconic heroes like Master Chief from Halo Reach, Lara Croft from Tomb Raider, Geralt of Rivia from The Witcher 2, and many others all free with your Xbox Live Gold membership.

Above all, we want to celebrate our fantastic Xbox Live community this April, and that’s why we’re so pleased to announce that Games with Gold will offer double the free games for April That means Xbox One gamers get two awesome new titles, and Xbox 360 gamers get a whopping four games! So invite your friends and clear your calendar for gaming! Here’s what we’ve got:

* Pool Nation FX ($9.99 ERP): Available all month on Xbox One
* Child of Light ($14.99 ERP): Available all month on Xbox One
* Gears of War: Judgment ($19.99 ERP): Available from April 1-15 on Xbox 360
* Terraria ($14.99 ERP): Available from April 1-15 on Xbox 360
* Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag ($29.99 ERP): Available from April 16-31 on Xbox 360
* Army of Two: The Devil’s Cartel ($19.99 ERP): Available from April 16-31 on Xbox 360

In the first part of the month, Xbox 360 gamers get the Gears of War: Judgment, as well as the open-world Roguelike Terraria. Gears of War: Judgment takes players back to the immediate aftermath of Emergence Day, the defining event of the Gears of War universe. The fate of the world rests on the shoulders of a young COG lieutenant, Damon Baird, and his team – Kilo Squad. In addition to an intense campaign that pits you against a horrifying new enemy, Gears of War: Judgment also introduces two class-based multiplayer modes, OverRun and Survival that add an exciting twist for fans of great cooperative multiplayer gaming.

On the other side of the coin, Terraria is a seemingly peaceful little romp through a limitless sandbox world, in which you must guide your alter ego to survival by exploiting their environment. Dig for metals, craft with what you discover, build incredible dwellings, and battle enemies of all shapes and sizes in Terraria‘s seemingly endless possibilities. Work together with your friends to build your personal fortress then turn on PvP to either duke it out or takedown bosses in co-op.

Later in the month, Xbox 360 gets two more titles: the co-op shooter Army of Two: The Devil’s Cartel, and the historical stealth-action epic Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag. If you haven’t played it yet, Black Flag is a swashbuckling fantasy set in the Caribbean during the Age of Sail, which adds ship-to-ship combat and plenty of exploration to the Assassin’s Creed stealth-and-action recipe. Army of Two: The Devil’s Cartel is a third-person shooter …read more

Slender: The Arrival Arrives to Give You Nightmares

March 25, 2015 By: Sniper Category: Whats Up?

Is your boring life currently defined by a noteworthy – almost alarming – lack of sheer terror? Well, we’ve got some great news for you, then: Slender: The Arrival is now available for Xbox One via ID@Xbox, and it’s sure to leave you huddled up in the corner, your belabored sobs punctuated only by the occasional bloodcurdling scream.

Yes, it’s that classic scenario ripped straight from your deepest, darkest nightmares. An impossibly tall, thin, unsettlingly proportioned specter of death – the titular Slender Man – pursues you through a number of dark and terrifying environments. Armed with only a flashlight, it’s your job to collect the scattered pages of what we’re assuming is some eldritch, Lovecraftian tome (sorry, our reading comprehension goes out the window once the panic-induced adrenaline threatens to swallow us whole). Do this before the horrific nightmare man catches you, and for the love of all that is holy, don’t look at him, or shine your flashlight on him, or do anything but run, or so help us, he will teleport in front of you and rip your face off.

It’s the kind of memorable experience that will have you putting down your Xbox One controller and walking away with your hands thrown up high, muttering “Nope, nope, NOPE, NOPE” as the Slender Man’s chilling visage is burned into your skull, planting the seeds for all those night terrors that will have you waking up in cold sweats during the darkest hours of the morning, momentarily confused as to what’s real and what isn’t.

If you’re lucky, maybe you’ll catch a sleep-fevered glimpse of the nightmare man in your bedroom’s corner, and wind up having to awkwardly apologize to the neighbors, assuring them that no, there was no reason to call the police, you were just having a bad dream.

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, this game’s more than a little spooky, but it’s so good that we keep coming back for more and more. Slender: The Arrival is now available on Xbox One and Xbox 360, and you can scare yourself half to death with it for just $9.99. …read more

Why You Should Dive Into Dragon Age: Inquisition – Jaws of Hakkon

March 25, 2015 By: Sniper Category: Whats Up?

More than a few of you likely considered BioWare’s Dragon Age: Inquisition one of the finest games of 2014, what with its beautiful world, engaging story, and dynamic combat system. This week, BioWare dropped an unexpected jewel on us in the form of Dragon Age: Inquisition – Jaws of Hakkon, the first downloadable content pack for the award-winning role-playing game. It’s available first exclusively on Xbox One and PC at this very moment for just $15 (or save 10% with EA Access). And – no surprise – it’s well worth picking up.

Jaws of Hakkon is set in an overgrown wilderness populated by the Avvar hunter people, and tasks you with exploring an ancient Tevinter fortress that hides some rather intriguing secrets. Curious about the fate of the last Inquisitor and the powerful dragon he hunted? Well, you’re in the right place: It’s your job to find the final resting place of said Inquisitor, who bit the dust some 800 years prior.

You get to face off against new enemies, as well as gather new legendary armor and weapons across roughly a half-dozen hours of adventuring. Make it to the finish line, and you’ll a battle against an ancient god of war, hell-bent on destroying the world. Oh, and you’ll wipe out a cult in the process. What better way is there to spend a weekday night?

One thing worth noting is that Jaws of Hakkon is aimed at those who have played a fair amount of the main Inquisition story. You should be at least level 20 before diving in, and you’ll need eight power points to open up the expansion’s new area, Frostback Basin. Indeed, in many ways, Jaws of Hakkon definitely feels like a fresh sandbox for high-level adventurers to play in – a huge new area in which you can wander around and complete a pretty epic main quest, while also uncovering plenty of side-quests.

We’ve been having a great time exploring all of this new content and are already looking forward to checking it out with our other character. Pick up Dragon Age: Inquisition – Jaws of Hakkon on Xbox One today! …read more

Shovel Knight Is a Deadly Love Letter to the ‘80s

March 25, 2015 By: Sniper Category: Whats Up?

Shovel Knight is one of the best games of 2014, and it’s finally coming to Xbox One, bigger and better than ever before. The Kickstarter-funded indie project from Yacht Club Games is the ultimate homage to the 8-bit era of platformers. Evoking the nostalgia of an 8-bit game without being overly referential or silly, Shovel Knight doesn’t just feel like a game inspired by the late ‘80s – it feels like a game that could have actually existed in that decade.

As the titular knight, armed with (what else) a shovel, you have to jump, fight, and bounce your way through increasingly deadly and challenging levels. It’s an amalgamation of the best that the NES had to offer – the coolest elements of the best games, all combined. Spikes and bottomless pits; enemies chained together to bounce off of in an aerobatic display of twitch reflexes and perfect timing. And, of course boss battles –
so many boss battles.

Shovel Knight
is a notoriously challenging game, and you will die over and over and over again. The wickedly clever thing about Shovel Knight is that you have the option to destroy mid-level checkpoints for a hefty gold bonus. But when you die, you lose a bunch of your gold, and you’re forced to get back to the spot of your demise to retrieve it without dying again (and thus losing the gold forever). The risk-reward dynamic is cranked to its max with Shovel Knight.

For gamers that have already enjoyed
Shovel Knight on other platforms, the Xbox One release promises some new features. Perhaps most noticeably (or at least most nostalgically), it features an appearance by none other than the poster amphibians for brutal 8-bit gaming, the BattleToads.

If you’re too young to remember BattleToads, go ask an older relative if they ever broke a controller in rage, and then listen to their story about the hover bike level. It will sound like a grandparent talking about the war.

Shovel Knight
joins a number of excellent old-school gaming love letters from the ID@Xbox family. If you want some challenging platforming now, check out Volgarr the Viking to sharpen your skills before Shovel Knight releases later this year! …read more

Phil Spencer Experiences Tanner Foust's Rally VW Beetle

March 25, 2015 By: Sniper Category: Whats Up?

Head of Xbox Phil Spencer recently had the chance to ride shotgun with professional rally driver, world-record holder and Xbox ambassador Tanner Foust during the Red Bull Global Rallycross event at Dirt Fish Rally School in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, which is about an hour from Xbox HQ in Redmond, Washington.

The vehicle was Tanner’s 504 horsepower 2014 Volkswagen Beetle GRC, which is also the hero car of the Rockstar Energy Drink Car Pack from Forza Horizon 2, available now in the Xbox Live store. Dive into the cockpit to get an exclusive look as Phil gets the ride of his life!

The Forza Community Team is running a special in-game photo contest in Forza Horizon 2 for Xbox One, and will giving away a handful of Tanner Foust memorabilia signed by Tanner himself as prizes. The contest will be open until Monday, March 30. For more details on the photo contest and to find out how to enter, see the official rules. To get the latest on the Tanner’s adventures visit: http://www.tannerfoust.com/.

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The World of Minecraft Just Got Brighter with the Pattern Texture Pack for Xbox

March 24, 2015 By: Sniper Category: Whats Up?

Looking for new ways to brighten your blocky Minecraft world? The “Pattern Texture Pack” could be just what you need.

Now available for all
Minecraft console editions for $0.99 USD, the “Pattern Texture Pack” allows players to decorate their Minecraft worlds with bright colors, beautiful patterns and knitted animals.

The pack also provides a pattern-themed UI and stylized texture set that can be applied to new or previously created
Minecraft worlds.

Happy mining!
…read more