Phil Spencer opened up from his home to wish for the safety and health of fans, staff, and game industry affiliates worldwide on April 7, 2020 at 2:00 PM (PST) with the comments “a lot of uncertainty in the world, you might see some scenes during the show,” and wishing the enjoyment of fans watching the show. With this, the all digital Inside Xbox April 2020 Event began.
Katarina, Malik, Larry, and team joined a conference call together from their home offices and discussed some of the expectations for the show. Grounded by Obsidian Entertainment was shown first.
GROUNDED by Obsidian
Players are tiny, and everything in the backyard wants to kill them. The machine that can grow them back to full size is temporarily unavailable, so base-building, survival, exploration, and weaponry are the order of the day. In the charming visuals we are told “You will be fine, or eaten, you’ll be fine or you’ll be dead – it’s really up to you,” and shown the characters who are seemingly inspired by the 1989 film ‘Honey, I Shrunk The Kids’.
However, there’s a twist. We are hinted at a shadow group causing a conspiracy on the ground. Ominent is their name, and they somehow have high-tech structures as well. The game is made to be a single player or co-operative experience with a variety of play-style options including crafting an arsenal, sneaking, evolving combat abilities, and more. The game will also take influence from the community during its Preview period.
GROUNDED DEV DIARY
GROUNDED GAMEPLAY DEMO
Available on Xbox Game Preview starting July 28, 2020.
XBOX SERIES X
Next up, Major Nelson and Director of XSX Program Management Jason Ronald provided a recap of their Xbox Series X Tech Debut reiterating hardware-accelerated Direct3D Raytracing and Variable Rate Shading. They also discussed their custom designed NVMe, dedicated hardware decompression block (for access to richer textures in real-time), DirectX Storage (low level API for NVMe), and Sampler Feedback Streaming (on-demand SSD data pulls, essential memory multiplier for open world games). Jason also promises that “the Technology will fade into the background,” meaning it will be so good players won’t need to know all of this they will see the difference.
Storage cards can be inserted into the XSX to expand high-speed storage, as known, but external consoles can also run XO or XOX games (but for XSX it is just for storing them). This an approach of options, and players won’t be forced to only use the high-speed drives unless you are playing an XSX version of the game. This is similar to how Sony allows PS4 games to boot up off of normal drives. The tone of the music and broadcast gave the feeling like the console was going to be given a delay announcement at any moment, but it didn’t happen. Maybe the hardware designer was just annoyed that Sony decided to announce the PS5’s DualSense controller just 30 minutes before the Xbox show went live.
Xbox Series X is set to launch Holiday 2020.
XBOX GAME PASS
Expansions for State of Decay, updates to Apex Legends with “The Old Ways” Event, and Bleeding Edge were all trotted out as a way of showing us the many, many awesome moments that are found in the Xbox Game Pass. Minecraft is also given a space station update, but no mention at this moment of Minecraft Dungeons, which is what we are all looking forward to! There were also a bunch of new games coming to XGP announced, as per below.
Coming Soon to Xbox Game Pass:
- Journey to the Savage Planet – (April 9)
- New “Hot Garbage” Content for Journey to the Savage Planet
- New “Thermal” Level for Gang Beasts
- Alvastia Chronicles by Kemco
- Yakuza Kiwami
Coming Soon to Xbox Game Pass for PC:
- Football Manager 2020
- Stranger Things 3: The Game
Perks for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate:
- NBA 2K20 Skill Boosts
- Warframe Credits Starter Pack
- Phantasy Star Online 2 Pack
- Sea of Thieves Pack
- Smite Pack
- 3 Free Tanks in World of Tanks
Xbox Game Pass Ultimate will also launch in Japan and South Korea for the first time on April 14, 2020.
The turn-based strategy game which takes place in the Gears of War universe is shown next with developer diary style info from Creative Director Tyler Bielman. The Action system per turn, main characters, and plot are shown to us as well as the main enemy who is a geneticist, creating monsters and bosses. When you perform an execution in Gears Tactic it will grant bonus actions for the turn to the entire squad.
We have now have official confirmation that the game will contain no lootboxes, and no microtransactions, “What you see, you can earn,” with the game taking a major focus on customizable gear. Each class has primary weapon with 5 mod slots. Each soldier has 3 slots for armor; torso, head, leg. These can be outfitted with various color patterns, metallic finish, etc.
Confirmation that the game’s code has went gold today was also provided as well as the start of pre-orders on Steam and Microsoft Store for Windows 10. The game will also be included day one as part of Xbox Game Pass for PC / XGP Ultimate when it launches for April 28 (PC) and later in 2020 (Xbox).
It was announced that xCloud will be launching into its Alpha / Beta phases throughout Western Europe.
New Regions for xCloud Alpha:
To register, go to Xbox.com/gamestreaming today.
There are a number of new games coming to Xbox Games Streaming Preview including a number of indie games coming to it. For now, we know of three new titles that will be available very soon for the Xbox Game Streaming test phases of xCloud.
New Games for xCloud Alpha:
- Dragon Age Inquisition
- The Sims 4
- Unravel Two
There is some significance worth noting for the factor of EA Games remaining a partner and adding more games to xCloud, while rumors have been around that they wanted to launch their own streaming service, and titles being pulled from GeForce Now on PC.
HOTLINE MIAMI COLLECTION
First announced at Gamescom 2019, Hotline Miami Collection is available for download now with Xbox One X Enhancements.
“Hotline Miami Collection contains both legendary games in the neon-soaked, brutally-challenging Hotline Miami series from Dennaton Games.” – Devolver Digital PR
Atomicrops looks like somebody took Stardew Valley, added a hint of Animal Crossing, and a ton of guns!! It was only a matter of time. Farming, marriage, pets, pests, and enemies to kill are all shown as fundamental parts of the game which will be available May 28th.
THE LAST CAMPFIRE
The first few moments of gameplay were shown by Hello Games. Cinematography, emotional feel, and a deeper message about empathy seem to be at the focus of The Last Campfire. Players take control of the main character Ember who will discover their heritage through a mysterious experience in the dark gameworld promising a charming fantasy twist to it as well.
Inspirations are named; The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, and puzzle gameplay is showcased accompanied by story progression via narration. As we are guided by the Hello Games designer Steven Burgess, the Lead Designer of The Last Campfire.
XBOX GAME BAR FEATURES
A new feature for the Xbox Dashboard was revealed called Copilot.
How to use copilot for Xbox One:
- Connect two controllers to your Xbox One.
- Open the Settings app on your console.
- Navigate to the Ease of Access tab.
- Choose the Controller tile.
- Select Copilot settings.
- Select Turn on copilot. Copilot will be enabled.
Family Settings have also received 20 new tools to ensure Screen Time management, Content Restrictions, and Subscription Settings can all be set by parents for younger gamers who need guidance still.
Official Clubs and LFG posts are also sorted in a new, prioritized manner, which will provide better navigation and quicker access to communities of gamers playing actively. Gift Purchases can now be bought on Xbox and sent directly to players on the friends list or via email acceptance links. Spotify Music is also available at any time while in-game now.
On Windows 10 XSPlit will partner with Microsoft to create integrate starting and stopping streams, interacting with chat, checking out recent events and stats, as well as tracking user engagement. Razer game optimization software will also be available via Cortex being integrated into the Xbox Game Bar on PC as well. Major Nelson promises continued updates and more info as well as the ability to try them out early on insider.windows.com so head there if you’d like to see it for yourself.
SEA OF THIEVES – SHIPS OF FORTUNE
Players can soon become an emissary with the chance to earn in the newly expanded reputation system, working for pre-existing trading companies, and new ones, as they compete and battle each other for dominance. Arena matches will also be more action packed with treasure maps replaced by a single chest with a mad dog beacon, meaning every man is for himself to battle it out and get the glory.
Adventure Mode and Battle Arena will also both have a new, brief, opportunity for players to revive their friends upon death. Cats are also being added to the game. Developers are about to reveal another big secret when suddenly their bosses interrupted them and said that we will have to wait a little bit longer for that one.
The show concluded there with an extended look at Grounded promised for the rest of the stream for Obsidian Entertainment, a first party Xbox Game Studio. You can find that portion included in this article, above, in the Grounded section.
Ships of Fortune comes to Sea of Thieves on April 22, 2020.
RGN ANALYSIS + CONCLUSION
The Inside Xbox April 2020 Event provided something for everyone with updates to the Xbox operating system being shown off, new games for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate and PC revealed, a closer look at some of the forthcoming first party titles including Grounded and Gears Tactics, and a few exciting indie announcements. All of that was great, and without too much of an expectation set on how big this event would be, I think gamers can appreciate what was shown here.
Of course, the big time announcements of past E3 console launches were absent, but again – that shouldn’t have been expected today. One odd moment during the show was the Xbox Series X hardware designer seemingly failing at projecting enthusiasm, be it the current world health situation or perhaps dissatisfaction with the fact that Sony decided to launch their PlayStation 5 DualSense Controller Reveal just half an hour before today’s Inside Xbox Event went live.
A few minor details about how the XSX tech works were given followed by some more details about xCloud rolling out, but this piece did feel a bit lacking. There were no visual aids or good examples described by the Xbox team about the very technical details that were delivered, and the ones which enthusiasts external to the engineering team would actually understand were just recaps of previously announced specs.
PRESENTATION GRADE: C
There were no huge expectations going into today’s event. It was enjoyable but there were clear ways it could’ve been better. It is also clear that Xbox is either holding back or won’t have a lot of earth-shattering announcements for the beginning of next-gen due to their new Xbox Game Studios needing time to create and develop without the pressure of announcing what they’re working on just yet.
FULL REPLAY VIDEO
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