Tagged: Xbox 360

Microsoft has more than one Xbox 360 update planned for 2015

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Xbox Preview Program updates are nothing new if you follow Xbox’s Major Nelson or if you keep an eye on the Xbox press site. So I was about to scroll on by this latest Preview Program Enrollment headline when I realized it was for the Xbox 360. By this point I figured Microsoft was happy to leave their last-gen console to retire like a distinguished 55 year old; still around and doing well but not the topic of water cooler gossip like it used to be.

I’m happily mistaken — especially as Katy and I are using our 360s more than ever to play EDF — and happy to report that at least two new updates will be coming to the console through 2015. The first, which doesn’t have a solid release date yet, won’t bring glamorous new features but it may ease the pains of network troubleshooting for some users. Improved troubleshooting options will be added as well as a download/upload speed test utility.

The next update(s) are only promised by Major Nelson as “coming later this year”. While owners could sign up for the preview program in years past, this time around it’s more like a lottery. Major Nelson’s post details the new process.

Xbox Avatars, What is going on?!

While the beloved (?) Xbox Avatars had to sneak into their own deprecated little Xbox One app, the party is weirder than ever back on Xbox 360. I spent a few minutes poking around the ‘#trending‘ section of the Avatar Store and found pricey homages to Grumpy Cat, Wrecking Ball, Turn Down for What and more.

You can check them out on the Avatar Store website and even see your own Avatar model them right here.

E3 2014: The Coins in Microsoft’s Couch Cushions

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UPDATE: I found a huge listing of all of the ID@Xbox games if you want to read a little more about some of the indie games. It’s not hard to find the big headlines from Microsoft’s E3 2014 press conference today but a few little coins always sink down into the couch cushions. Here’s what bubbled up from the ensuing press release explosion.

The Xbox 360 didn’t get mentioned out loud at the conference but Microsoft isn’t quite ready to put their past-gen console out to pasture. Coming, presumably through 2015, to the console are:

  • Forza Horizon 2
  • Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel
  • Ori and the Blind Forest
  • Project Spark
  • Magic 2015 – Duels of the Planeswalkers

D4, the Kinect-centric game from Deadly Premonition creator, SWERY, is now touted as having Kinect and controller support. The four D’s also stand for: Dark Dreams Don’t Die. I’m not sure if I ever heard that last year. D4 is out in 2014.

While Xbox One games like Ori are falling back onto Xbox 360, Microsoft announced that the 360’s free-to-play “online multiplayer action game”, Happy Wars, will make the jump to Xbox One. To be released before the end of 2014, the Xbox One version will include a story-driven campaign mode and support for up to 30 players. I have no idea if those are just the same features from the 360 version.

Somewhere towards the end of the show Microsoft shot off a rapid fire reel of indie games coming by way of their ID@Xbox initiative. The first few listed below are worth pointing out because they appeared on Microsoft’s press site but not in the footage at the show. The rest are coming to other platforms or are already available on PC so I won’t go into detail but here’s a handy list for anyone looking.

  • Wulverblade
  • Another World/Out of this World
  • Q.U.B.E.
  • There Came an Echo
  • Cuphead
  • Fenix Rage
  • Earthlock
  • Knight Squad
  • #IDARB
  • Aztez
  • Plague Inc. Evolved
  • White Night
  • Hyper Light Drifter
  • Lifeless Planet
  • Slash Dash
  • Fru
  • Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime
  • Might No. 9
  • Grave
  • Threes
  • Woolve
  • Hellraid
  • Below

Xbox Gold Sale offers a PSYzable savings

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Seeing as we’re one of the top spots on the internet to lobby for more K-pop in video games it seems like a civic duty to point out this week’s Xbox Live “Deals with Gold”. Just Dance 2014 on Xbox 360 Games on Demand is 50% off this week as are a handful of DLC tracks including PSY’s pony-ridin’ sensation ‘Gangnam Style’.

The DLC is also on sale for the Xbox One version of Just Dance 2014. The prices are only valid from now through May 5th so do that one… sorta, sidekick whatcha dance move over to the Xbox Marketplace.

More than Matchmaking: Xbox’s crazy number of services

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Microsoft’s Xbox Live Service Status page is a great fist-stop when you’re having problems with anything relating to network activity on an Xbox console. Before you dig into DNS settings or power cycle dusty equipment stashed behind your TV, start by making sure the service itself is working.

It’s also a good place to remind yourself of how many services, apps and features Microsoft provides access to; my finger got tired scrolling through the gargantuan list! There’s the ubiquitous stuff like Netflix, Amazon, and YouTube but amid the sprawling 110 entries are things like Ameba TV, providing curated kids’ entertainment, a handful of anime streaming services, music video repositories, all the streaming radio apps I forgot about, and of course, the Pizza Hut app.

It’s worth looking through if just to remind yourself of all these online services.

I can’t stop making things with GTA Online’s Content Creator

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I was pretty excited about Grand Theft Auto Online’s content creator that allows users to build their own races and deathmatches, but I didn’t expect to get this into it. Since the feature was added a few days ago (with a big BETA tag, naturally) it’s all I’ve wanted to do in the game.

The tools are surprisingly easy to use and while it’s not as granularly customizable as Little Big Planet or Trials Evolution there’s a lot you can do with it. I didn’t realize until I was deep into a new deathmatch that helicopters, planes and military vehicles can be dropped in at will. You can switch to the default over-the-shoulder camera to stash objects, weapons and checkpoints. There’s plenty of potential with dynamic (explosive) objects and ramps for more exciting and unpredictable races than Rockstar’s own.

While making this stuff is easy, finding it may put a damper on the whole thing. Right now the only way to find user created stuff is through the Rockstar Social Club website. There’s loads of options to find just the event you’re looking for but having that search within the game would make it much more accessible. Rockstar will be verifying quality content and pushing it into the game world as well as promoting user made stuff through in-game events. If you’re still chasing the game’s numerous awards there’s more incentive to dip into the tools with rewards for plays, up-votes and an unlockable Rockstar t-shirt should the team bestow a verified tag on your creation.

So what’s next? Tanks vs Choppers? Garbage truck racing through the mountains? Molotov fights on a deserted island? I may not be super hot on competing online but I sure do love making these things.

My first 200 hours in Grand Theft Auto V (Part 2: Online)

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As obsessed as I was about seeing as much of the single player content as possible, I had no idea how possessed I would get once Grand Theft Auto Online rolled out. I stuck with it after the shaky launch and found a different kind of San Andreas than the world Trevor, Michael and Franklin inhabit. I’m a no-good thug, fresh off the plane and in town to meet my LifeInvader pal, Lamar. He basically hands me a gun and throws open the gates to the world; a confusing new place where I’m a criminal jack-of-all-trades.

Like the fervor around the launch of Portal and Fez part of the fun has been figuring out how this peculiar MMOGTA works. Rockstar filled the game with grinding, loot and quest givers like any other MMO but they wrote a bunch of their own rules and didn’t bother explaining them all. Passive mode makes you immune to player abuse, unless you get in a car. The world is full of ATMs that you can stash your cash in but you can also use your phone for convenient online banking. Races and respawns cost money. Your apartment comes with daily utility fees. I’ve posted a few times as I’ve discovered how it all works and now that I’ve gotten farther in things are really getting crazy.

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At any time the open world around you is crawling with distractions. If it’s not driving to a clothing store to see what your last level-up unlocked it’s an impromptu gang attack, an armored truck packed with money, a convenience store yet to be robbed or a random player to greet/grief. All of that sits alongside starting points for nearly 100 races, 72 deathmatches, 6 Horde style survival games, parachuting and team deathmatches.

What you could call story missions pop up frequently from your cellphone contacts and work much like regular GTA missions only you can invite your friends. These linger on the “drive here, kill these guys, drive back” formula for quite a while but soon it gets interesting. Stealing tankers as they barrell across the highway is much easier with multiple gunmen. Bringing a helicopter full of gun-toting friends to bear on a sky-high construction site is much more exciting than attempting it alone. The most elaborate mission I’ve been a part of so far eclipses even the single player stuff with multiple gunfights, invasions and even hacking.

All of this has been even more all-consuming since we decided to buy a second copy of the game. Finding a game with an interesting online mode that Katy and I are both interested in at the same time hardly ever happens. GTA Online has paid for itself a million times over in ridiculous knife fights, accidental explosions, frantic Survival rounds, racing shenanigans, and bluntly honest fashion advice. Joined by a regular, nightly crew of friends I’ve finally found that unrelentingly fun multiplayer experience that so many have had this console generation.

My first 200 hours in Grand Theft Auto V (Part 1: Single Player)

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I’ve just topped 200 hours in Grand Theft Auto V so I thought I’d answer your probable first question, “what the hell are you doing in that game all the time!?”. After 93 hours I wrapped up the single player story and completed the 100% checklist which, somewhat perplexingly doesn’t require you to do everything in the game. Still, it was a feat of fun and dedication that I enjoyed completely… mostly.

You’ve probably heard it already but the heists in the game are definitely the highlight. Going over the planning board, choosing your approach and crew, running little missions to recon or acquire gear build up some of the game’s best moments. What really sucked me in, though, is the world that Rockstar created. So many little details at every turn solidify San Andreas as a real place that I couldn’t pull myself out of. One-off conversations you overhear, the random people out on hiking trips or picnics, the handwritten in-game Internet that hooks right into the game world. Websites point to secrets and even start whole mission chains which wind up unlocking some of the game’s mysteries and teasing you with others.

Even after the gargantuan credits finally stop scrolling each character has a good post-game moment that let’s you know Rockstar isn’t finished yet. This is where I really got started on the 100% checklist and other unfinished business because I was honestly saddened at the idea of leaving this world. Little did I know that once GTA Online sorted out its launch-week woes I wouldn’t have to worry about ever leaving San Andreas again. Check back tomorrow for a lengthy recount of my time as a strong, silent, fashionably confused Ginger fumbling into Rockstar’s online world.

Halloween came to Grand Theft Auto Online

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I don’t know why I didn’t think of it sooner but the idea of celebrating Halloween in Grand Theft Auto Online suddenly struck me the morning of. The game’s got plenty of gross outfits and masks, cars are customizable enough and Katy’s already expressed her love for knife fights, so why not?

I made a quick post on Google+ inviting people to friend up, dress up and stalk the streets of a private game with melee weapon in hand. I wish the weather cheat code worked in Online so we could’ve kept it atmospheric but the deathmatches and races were filled with eerie rain and darkness… it was the most the game allowed. I had dug up some spooky royalty free mp3s as well so if you watch our archived stream (Part 1Part 2) you’ll get the full effect. Umm, sorry about the frequent kitten mews, I don’t know why those are in there.

It went really well and we had friends cycling in and out for nearly five hours doing races, knife fights and a round of Survival. It was also my most popular Google+ post by far with 76 +1’s and commenters asking if we were doing the same thing on PlayStation 3 or if the party was still going. It wound up being one of the most memorable Halloween nights for me since I was a kid.