Xbox continues to
power on with their greatest asset. The Xbox Game Pass already has a
load of great games to play. With this update, there are even more
great choices. What’s best about these is their value and length. A
lot of the games on offer are solid, well rounded experiences. They
aren’t just dropping a few niche and trashy disposable games. They
are getting you THE best games from yesteryear. The titles in this
pass of theirs are all of the games that if you missed, you need to
play. What are they?
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
The original Deus Ex game was an absolute paradigm changer for the PC gaming industry. N’stuff. I’ve never played the original. I started with Invisible War, a game everyone hated but that’s only because nothing could be as good as that first game (and it’s janky AF). But after that failure, the Deus Ex series found life in the prequel series starring Adam Jensen. A man who is basically the Major from Ghost in the Shell but is a gruff dude working big tech security, and later, Interpol. Mankind Divided is a direct sequel to Human Revolution, which came out last console generation. It wouldn’t hurt to play that title, but it’s not absolutely essential to MD, since a lot of the characters from the first game are mere afterthoughts. That and a handy-dandy 11 minute video comes with the game to recap it for you.
What happens next, is you find yourself in a world the producers called the “Mechanical Apartheid“. This is due to a mass hack that resulted in one of the world’s most bloody acts of terrorism, an event where all cybernetically enhanced individuals received some sort of hacking signal that reduced them to turning into a vicious mob, killing everyone (until Adam Jensen stopped). Understandably shook, the world of the enhanced, now known as the slur “klanks”, live under constant supervision by a humanity who doesn’t trust them. But Adam Jensen is special, and because of his skills, he lands a job at Interpol working a counter-terror task force. Over the course of the game, you will explore the streets of Prague while trying to stop an ‘illuminati’-tier conspiracy that if fulfilled, may destroy the freedom of all individuals as we know it. Yikes.
This game is play it your way, and is mainly a tactical stealth action game. You can stealth your way past everything, hack your way past everything, shoot your way pas everything, blow up your way past everything, or mix it up a little bit. Sadly, the project was suddenly forced out the door before it was completely finished. It now serves as what was supposed to be a new trilogy… only the other two aren’t currently getting made. If you go into this game aware that a few threads will be left dangling, you’ll still have a blast.
Prey is another game with a littered history. The original Prey came out in 2005 after being worked on for 15 YEARS. No joke, but it finally came out and it wasn’t half bad. Some people may accuse the game of being racist for having an Indigenous American protagonist who uses ancient Indian magic to protect himself, and to that i say get the fuck over yourself. It’s a game. And the sequel is even better.
See, Prey was originally supposed to come out as Prey 2, a pseudo-sequel at best where you play as a bounty hunter who rounded up criminals using gadgets and some parkour. The game disappeared. Then, at an E3, it re-emerged as Prey, which means I now have to distinguish them by release date. This time Arkane Studios made it, the brains behind Dishonored. Just like their other game, Prey became a game in same style as the “System Shock / Bioshock” games.
This one also features a wide variety of powers and play styles. You can shoot your way through, hack your.. YOU GET THE POINT. This one features a far more bizarre plot. You are on a space station (sorry for spoiling the first 20 minutes of the game), where some experiments on a shapeshifting aliens species has gone awry. They have done a LOT to ruin the station, and if you don’t solve all those problems and a single one of them makes it back to Earth, it will be DOOMED. Peep our review here.
Monster Hunter World
Monster Hunter is a much beloved franchise known for its challenge and scope. You don’t simply fight monsters. You track them down, you beat them to a pulp, and then you wear their bones on your favorite armor. So does your cat. The cats are pretty rad in these games. However, for a very long time, MH was a very niche title for a specific audience, yet Capcom broadened that scope with Monster Hunter World.
This version of the game provided updated controls, a new story, and a huge focus on online multiplayer to get a lot of players. And it worked. During a very quiet January, this title popped up and became the surprise first-hit of the year. Actually, not only that, it set a new all-time record in sales for Capcom. It keeps people coming back with a steady slew of both free and paid updates. You’ll never run out of stuff to do.
This series is a tough and very involved game. Hunting monsters takes preparation. And preparation requires a full understanding of the ins and outs of the game. Preparation is key. Everything from crafting gadgets, potions, poisons, and other key items can make all the difference during your hunt. Of course, this game has a very, VERY extensive tutorial that makes sure you’re always on top of what you need to know. Sometimes it feels like the tutorial never ended. But 25 hours was enough for me. Also I cheated profusely and usually just “fired a flare” during the fights. That means 3 people will show up and kill the monster for you. You could possibly play the whole entire game this way if you wanted. And should. JK, but check out our review.
Developer DONTNOD is a game producer that makes the best 7/10 games you will ever play. They are notorious for their storylines, which aren’t simply engaging. No, these devs would prefer to bludgeon you over the head with hard-to-discuss topics like memory erasure, suicide, assisted suicide, drug abuse, unfiltered teenage angst, and high school drama classes. Then, in comes Vampyr, a narrative heavy action melee game with a slower and focused pace. If you wanted to play the “easy version” of Dark Souls this is the one. Not only that but they recently patched in a story mode and a hard mode so you can either play it as super easy Dark Souls or actual Dark Souls.
Maximizing the potential for irony, the story stars a recently vampire’d Doctor, Jonathan Reed. He’s world renowned for his research in… wait for it… blood. Yep, the blood doctor turns into a blood sucker. Vampyr gets about as bleak as it can possibly get. You are in an old london riddled with Spanish Flu. The citizens of London aren’t a particularly happy or nice bunch either. Between researching links between the flu and a vampire epidemic, you also deal with the citizens.
Many of them need your help in more ways than one. Not only do you do random quests for them, as per most games, there’s an additional angle. You also have to diagnose them and craft the cures for their ailments. Also, you get teased by the level up system. Level up from fighting enemies, but you get a huge XP bonus if you kill an innocent. Yeah, that’s this game. Those aren’t even the truly tough decisions either. You’ll encounter those at the end of each act and marvel at how all options seem wrong. We reviewed it here.
Another spring, another spring Apple Keynote. Good old Tim Apple (if you don’t get that reference you are not adulting properly) took the stage today to do the usual announcing of new Apple products. Only this time Tim didn’t focus on products in the traditional sense. No, Apple delivered a two hour keynote on the brand new world of Apple Services. An updated news app, with an optional premium subscription. An updated Apple TV app, with an optional premium subscription. An Apple credit card, literally called Apple Card. And most importantly Apple Arcade, Apple’s first official step into the multibillion dollar games industry.
Meet Apple Arcade
You read that right. After years of rumors and speculations, Apple has officially jumped into the wonderful world of video games. Apple Arcade is an all new subscription based games service that will work across all of your apple devices. One subscription gives full access to the entire library of games, which will include exclusive, on your iPhone, iPad, AppleTV, and Mac.
And that library of games is looking absolutely amazing. During the keynote Apple had a great video featuring some of the games and developers coming to their platform. Among those developers were Charles Cecil, Sam Rosenthal, Cedric Adams, and the legendary Hironobu Sakaguchi. That’s right the man behind Final Fantasy had a prominent guest spot in Apple Arcade’s world premiere.
Alongside the incredible stream of games, Apple also took a direct shout at the competition. Apple Arcade will not be a streaming service, instead allowing you to download and play any games any time without the need to be tethered to an internet connection. But wait theres more. Apple also took a moment to proudly exclaim that no games on Apple Arcade will have Ads or in-app purchases. Couple that with the commitment to privacy and a subscription that can be accessed by up to 6 family members, via family sharing, theres plenty of reason for Apple to feel confident with their service.
Although the Keynote was packed full of cool and exciting announcements, Apple continued the current tech trend of omitting details. As of right now we know Apple Arcade will be available Fall 2019. However, we don’t have answers to some of the more important questions. What is the price of an Apple Arcade subscription going to be? What titles can we expect to be available when it launches? Will there be any exclusives?
Questions? Well, of course!
Apple’s positioning as one of the top mobile device manufactures and the only true alternative to Windows computers gives it a ton of leverage. No Apple user will need to go out and make any additional purchases to enjoy the features of Apple Arcade. Cost of entry being low, Apple can expect huge subscriber counts very quickly much like they saw with the launch of Apple Music.
Where storytelling and design are pushed further than ever before.
With Google and Apple entering the world of gaming while Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo are preparing to announce the next generation of consoles, this is going to be an interesting year. The one thing I can say for certain is, this gone be good for us gamers but real bad for our wallets.
A few years ago, you used to sign a contract with a cell phone service provider. Then they decided to all move over to leasing options that made it affordable for everyone. Want the new iPhone? They have a payment plan. Want the new Samsung? Payment plan. LG device? Payment plan (also LG is the best). You see the new iPhone, and even though you can’t afford it, you want it. So the companies accommodate you. Now, that same principle is being applied here, only it’s a better deal. The Xbox All Access plan gives you a great deal more than just a smart device.
Xbox 360 was a dominating force in the last generation of games. This came after a generation dominated by the PlayStation 2. After Xbox’s disastrous introduction of the Xbox One and its lack of graphical prowess, PS4 won over the public by a landslide. Dan Mattrick instigated the disaster, but it wouldn’t be the last time he singlehandedly destroys a company. Phil Spencer has been left to undo the damage ever since. Each year, he finds more and more ways to win back the hearts of the people.
Exclusives are still a major power in the console gaming world. This is despite the fact that they are largely ‘timed’ exclusives and don’t always stay exclusive. But being first is still a big deal, and people eager for a game are going to go wherever they can get it as fast as possible. They made the Xbox One X cater to the audience who wanted more graphical power. They even bought up 5 companies that have all made interesting titles, to say the least. Still, that doesn’t change that their current exclusive line-up is… well, pretty pathetic really.
So, now, Microsoft is giving you a new reason to buy their console. This was first made apparent in their 2018 E3 press conference. They showed off plenty of games you could play. Some were exclusive, but many others weren’t. Still, it was a surprising move by the company to focus entirely on games and set a really high bar for the rest of that E3. They ended up showing off more games than any other presentation. They actually stole the thunder from other dev’s announcing projects by showing them off in their own show first.
They also talked a great deal about Xbox Game Pass, a service destined to be the Netflix of gaming. Xbox Game Pass gives you access to a huge section of games for a relatively low subscription plan. For 9.99/month, you get access to this comprehensive list of titles. It’s… a lot of games. A real lot of them. Endless choices and possibilities, it’s chock full of games from every genre. There’s a game in there for everyone, and the library is always expanding. The icing on the cake? All Xbox-Exclusive games will be made immediately available on game pass the day they are released. Which is a great proposition for people who really like the Forza games, for starters. But it’s also a strong promise they are holding, seeing as the earlier mentioned companies they bought will be dishing out Xbox exclusives for the future.
But that’s not the end of it. To get back to the subject at hand, Xbox All Access is sweetening the deal even further. What’s the plan? A two-year long monthly payment plan that pays for three things. The price covers the cost of purchasing the console and 24-month subscriptions to Xbox Live Gold and Xbox Game Pass. How good is this deal? Well, $22 USD a month will get you an Xbox One S model, while you can go for the top shelf and pay $36 USD for the Xbox One X, the most powerful console currently on the market.
You could always just fork out $250 to buy the entry-level price for a PS4, Switch, or the Xbox, and then spend another $60 or so per game you actually want to play on it. And then you have to decide if you want to buy each console’s premium service, which will also cost you more money up front. Yeah, that’s no fun. Some retailers allow you to get interest-free financing on purchases that qualify, but this offer is coming straight from Microsoft. Suddenly, the consoles are well within your budget, aren’t they? Imagine being able to afford the best console on the market and access to 100+ games for less than the price of that iPhone you’re leasing right now. Sound good? It should.
There are some caveats to this major deal. You have to go to a Microsoft store to make the purchase. That could be an issue because unlike Apple, they don’t have that many retail stores out there. The deal is also only good while supplies last. Granted, you have to do the same thing with most cell phone providers too. So, yeah, there’s a few extra snags to jump in on this incredible offer.
But this could be the beginning of a great new business strategy. If it skyrockets the sales of Xbox One consoles, that would begin the turning point. With enough success, Microsoft might just feel like extending the offer to other retailers, not just their own. This is the initial stage of a great idea. Maybe one of the other competitors will pick up on this strategy and try it themselves. Either way, this company is putting their money where their mouth is, and they’re offering a great opportunity. Own a console and get access to tons of free games all for small monthly payments. I would always choose the interest-free options over paying for something outright, wouldn’t you?
Has this offer piqued your interest? Will other companies attempt this? Let us know in the comments.