Category: Microsoft

E3 2015: All the details we have on the Xbox Elite Controller

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UPDATE: There’s no new info but if you want to see some more angles of the controller as well as its carrying case, Microsoft has a swanky page up for it.

I was going nuts yesterday looking for concrete details on that crazy new controller that Microsoft showed off. So with this press release in hand I’m just throwing this up as quick as I can in case others are looking as well. The biggest point that they didn’t mention at the show, though, is the price. $150. Ouch…. but maybe it’s justified? Check out all the junk it comes with and what all it can do.

Available October 2015 for $149.99, the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller package will include:

  • Carrying case
  • Set of four paddles
  • Set of six thumbsticks: standard (two), tall (two) and domed (two)
  • Set of two D-pads: faceted and standard
  • USB cable
  • AA batteries

The Paddle Buttons
There are four slots on the back of the controller for the new paddle buttons and you can use them in any combination. You don’t need to plug in and configure all four if, for example, you just want one paddle for your right hand. The wording in the press release implies that these four paddles will execute button macros for “intricate jump, aim, and shoot combinations”. On one hand this could address the repetitive stress and fatigue problems I run into but it could also automate spamming/cheating/griefing. We’ll have to wait for more hands-on reports to see how robust this functionality is but probably don’t expect these to be supported in competitions.

The Faceted D-Pad
That new D-Pad looks like a diamond but how does it feel? The jury is still out but the press material states that the faceted pad will “enable more confident combo execution” while the traditional D-Pad provides “precise control to change weapons or call in a strike”. So the new one is… mushy? At least Microsoft continues trying new things with the D-Pad and if you hate it just swap it out for the old one.

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Trigger Locks
The soft, smooth throw of the current triggers feels great for driving a vehicle but for guns some folks find it too squishy. Now with the trigger lock switches you can stop the pull on the triggers a little shorter. Flip it back and you’ve got the standard full range of motion. I didn’t catch it in the video but the switches for the triggers are on the back of the controller so you can quickly flip from short to long throw without looking away from the screen.

Xbox Accessories App
How do you control the macros on the paddle buttons or fine tune your stick sensitivity? With the Xbox Accessories app for Xbox One and Windows 10. With the app you’ll be able to:

  • Adjust trigger min/max values
  • Adjust thumbstick sensitivities
  • Change button assignments for any of 14 inputs (ABXY, paddles, D-Pad, triggers and sticks)
  • Create up to 255 profiles unique to individual games
  • Load any 2 profiles to the controller and switch between them with the Profile switch

It’s worth repeating the press release here so it’s clear: the Elite controller will work with PCs running Windows 7 to play games but to use the Xbox Accessories app and configure the thing you’ll have to be on Windows 10. Otherwise you’ll need to do all the adjusting on the Xbox One itself which may not let you customize profiles and macros for PC games.

Worth $150 for all that? I didn’t think so at first but the paddle buttons alone may be worth the price for comfort and convenience. It would’ve been nice if the package also included the $25 USB dongle you need for Xbox controllers to work wirelessly on PC. And there’s also been no confirmation of the headset/headphone functionality on this model. So that’s all that I know about this thing without being at E3 to try it out and ask more questions. No doubt, though, we’ll get all the answers by the time these things are available in October.

Check out 31 mostly new Indie games coming to Xbox One

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If you’re tired of all this virtual reality news coming out of GDC and just want to check out some new games, the Xbox YouTube channel has posted 31 new trailers of upcoming indie titles. These games are all part of Microsoft’s indie publishing program, ID@Xbox, which has some booth space at GDC to show off the games.

Many of these are games I looked at in the IGF this year and it’s good to see them updated and getting console releases (Submerged, The Sun and the Moon, ClusterPuck 99). There are also a lot of titles I hadn’t heard of making their “console debut” on Xbox One. Of particular note is The Flame in the Flood which looks like a fantastically artsy rogue-lite set amongst a flood in a “forgotten post-societal America”. You can check out most of the games on the Xbox channel but I’ve included their bullet point listing after the break if you want to read some more.

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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.

2014 IGF entrant, Shiftlings, coming soon to Xbox One

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Since it’s turned into IGF week here at GameLuv I thought this would make for a fitting post. Shiftlings, one of my short listed picks from the 2014 IGF, is coming soon to Xbox One. The game page exists but there’s no release date or price info just yet.

Surprisingly similar in theme to a few of my 2015 picks, Shiftlings ties two alien astronauts together by an umbilical air hose that’s always over-inflated. The puzzling, platforming gameplay centers on shifting the air between the two which enables new abilities. Naturally, it’s also important to avoid space spikes and other pointy, poppy obstacles when your inflated with life-saving air.

Until there’s more to report I’ll just say congrats to Rock Pocket Games. It’s always good to see an IGF entrant come to release, especially the ones I haven’t been able to keep up with.

An update on Karaoke @ DAM for Japan’s Xbox One

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The post I made about Karaoke @ DAM for the Japanese Xbox One last July continues to get traffic so I thought I’d write an update. To promote the service Microsoft and Daiichikosho roped in prolific enka singer, Sachiko Kobayashi, and had her train up on the decidedly-not-enka rock song ‘One Night Carnival’ by Kishidan. The results are tremendous.

As for the “game” itself, I can confirm it’s pretty easy to switch your Xbox One’s location and download the app. Unfortunately you’ll quickly be confronted with a notice that “communication with the center system could not be sure”, according to Google Translate. I take this to mean it won’t connect to the server from outside of Japan but it could be because I don’t have one of Hori’s generic USB microphones. According to the Karaoke @ DAM page it seems no other headset or microphone will be tolerated. I was so close! I’m sure there’s some way to tunnel or proxy the Xbox One traffic so it looks like I’m in Japan but I’ll leave that work up to someone else.

Once you are properly signed in it looks like you can peruse and preview the entire catalog of songs for free. With plans to add 200 new tracks every week since launch that should give you around 102,000 songs to choose from. Got your VPN tunnel, Hori mic and a list of J-Pop songs you have memorized? Now you’re ready to pay. The rates still stand at a reasonable $3 for 24 hours of access or $10 for 30 days. DAM branded Microsoft Points cards are available at retailers in Japan as well. And at least for a limited time, that Hori microphone comes with a free 30 days of access.

That’s a lot of hoops to jump through to sing karaoke on your Xbox One and nab some Japanese Achievements. But until Microsoft gives the English speaking world a similar product (and with the death of Karaoke on Xbox 360) this is the only option we’ve got.

I’m going to keep trying to get on so I hope to be back with another update at some point. In the meantime, here’s some higher quality screens I grabbed from the Xbox One.