This summer has been eerily quiet for video games, but the upcoming selection of Games with Gold for Xbox Live Gold members is one of the best we’ve ever seen. Seriously, if you pay for an Xbox Live subscription, you need to make sure that you log in and grab these games as soon as they become available next month.
Forza Horizon 2 is the biggest name on the list, and also happened to be my favorite game of 2014. Even since Forza Horizon 3 has come out, I still go back to the second game on occasion just to explore the European countryside and listen to the unbeatable radio stations. And once you’re done racing in Forza, you can go back in time and do battle with knights, vikings, and samurai in For Honor, one of the better melee combat games of the generation.
Here are the details on the availability of all the Xbox One and Xbox 360 Games with Gold for August:
- Forza Horizon 2 Standard – 10th Anniversary Edition ($19.99 ERP): August 1 to 31 on Xbox One
- For Honor Standard Edition ($59.99 ERP): August 16 to September 15 on Xbox One
- Dead Space 3 ($19.99 ERP): August 1 to 15 on Xbox One and Xbox 360
- Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two ($19.99 ERP): August 16 to 31 on Xbox One and Xbox 360
You’ll save over $119 if you pick up all four games and can add up to 4000 points to your gamerscore. Also, keep in mind that each of the Xbox 360 titles are backward compatible with the Xbox One, so even if you don’t have an Xbox 360 on hand, you can still download all four games listed above. See them in action below:
Microsoft announced that it has begun work on its next generation consoles at E3 2018, but didn’t share any detailed information about the new hardware. It might be years before we hear anything more from the company, but reports surrounding the follow-up to the Xbox One have begun to spring up online in recent weeks.
Last month, Thurrott claimed that the next family of Xbox devices was being referred to internally as Scarlett, and this week, Thurrott’s Brad Sams shared even more details about the future of the Xbox brand.
According to Sams, Microsoft is building two distinct devices for its next generation of game consoles. The first will be a traditional box in the vein of the Xbox One and Xbox 360. While local hardware may eventually be unnecessary for gaming, Microsoft will continue to give gamers a physical box for at least one more generation. Specs for this device are still unknown, “as it’s the early days of development for that piece of hardware.”
The second device is the one that could truly shake up the industry. Referred to as Scarlett Cloud by one source, the game streaming service which was first shown off at an employee-only meeting a few years ago will be the key to the second, more affordable device. Sources claim that the “cloud console” won’t be as powerful as a traditional console, but that it will be able to play all of the same games with the new service:
The cloud console will have a limited amount of compute locally for specific tasks like controller input, image processing, and importantly, collision detection. The downside of this is that it since more hardware is needed locally, it will raise the price of the streaming box but it will still cost significantly less than what we are accustomed to paying for a new-generation console which should help expand the platform’s reach.
Xbox head Phil Spencer has said openly in the past that the endgame for his team is to have Xbox games running on any platform the consumer wants to run them on, but the Scarlett cloud console will serve as an affordable entry point built from the ground up to play Scarlett games. Any games that runs on the traditional console will run on the cloud console, and vice versa. The cloud console is even said to be further along in development.
As Sams points out, Microsoft’s game-related services are often more profitable than its hardware — see: Xbox Live, Xbox Game Pass, etc. With all Scarlett games living on its cloud, Microsoft could dictate the rules when it comes to subscription fees, opening up its library to exponentially more players while charging them for access, even if they don’t own an Xbox device. 2020 looks to bring sweeping changes that will change the industry forever.
Less than a year after launching the Xbox One X, Microsoft is already teasing more new hardware. In a blog post on Wednesday confirming that the company will be at Gamescom in Germany this year, Microsoft revealed that it will be hosting a special episode of Inside Xbox from the Xbox booth covering news, upcoming games, and “all-new Xbox hardware and accessories.” The live stream will be broadcast on Tuesday, August 21st at 10:30 AM ET.
Microsoft doesn’t offer even the vaguest of hints about what it will specifically have to show off during the stream, but it seems highly unlikely that the next-gen Xbox console will be announced during a live stream at a press conference in Germany. Plus, a recent report pegged the next Xbox console for release in 2020.
Rather, we should probably expect new versions and bundles of the Xbox One S and Xbox One X, as well as a new Xbox Elite Wireless Controller. A purported sequel to the Xbox Elite leaked earlier this year, but we’ve yet to see any definitive proof of its existence since January. Considering the fact that it wasn’t at E3 2018, Gamescom may just be the perfect place to debut the controller, with hundreds of thousands of visitors in attendance.
Microsoft released the first Xbox Elite controller in October 2015 for $149.99. The premium controller features interchangeable thumbsticks and D-pads, optional paddles, hair trigger locks, and the ability to customize button assignments, sensitivity and more through an app. The new version will supposedly support USB-C charging and feature a variety of upgrades, including the option to swap between three profiles at will.
You can tune in to the Inside Xbox stream from Gamescom in Cologne on August 21st at 7:30 AM PT / 10:30 AM ET on Mixer, Twitch, YouTube or on Xbox.com, where Microsoft will be streaming the show live.
In the summer of 2017, Microsoft vice president Mike Ybarra gave an interview to Techradar in which he promised the company would look into Dolby Vision support for the Xbox One if fans make it clear they’re interested in that. As it turns out, people are interested: Almost three thousand people went out and signed a petition, a petition making that interest quite, well, clear.
“This is the petition to let them know,” it began. “And this isn’t just for gamers, it is also for cinephiles because the Xbox One X is shaping up to be the most powerful, best value 4K Blu-ray player on the market … Don’t you want to watch Netflix HDR? You’ll need a player that supports Dolby Vision. Amazon in HDR? Dolby Vision and HDR10+. Blu-rays are now coming out with support for these better formats too. This has to happen. Get it done Microsoft.”
Well, here it comes. Partly, at least. According to Xbox Wire, the console is getting a bevy of new features, like dashboard avatars, expanded search functionality — and Dolby Vision video streaming, to name a few.
“Today,” the news reads, “we are excited to announce our latest entertainment option, Dolby Vision video streaming support across Xbox One S and Xbox One X! Dolby Vision enables select TVs to take HDR up a notch with scene-by-scene precision and accuracy versus standard HDR which uses one setting for the entire movie/show you are watching. If you have a TV that supports the latest version of Dolby Vision and a Premium Netflix subscription jump in and experience Dolby Vision for yourself in the coming weeks!”
It’s a major add for the console, with its main rival — the Playstation 4 — still not fully supporting Dolby Atmos or Dolby Vision, as noted by The Verge.
As far as the rest of the additions go, other features being rolled out include five additional languages coming to the console’s Narrator — Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, Swedish and Dutch. An Australian version of the English language is also being added.
Another change is players now seeing their avatar and those of their friends across the console dashboard. Search is expanding to now includes games that are “Ready to Install” or that the player currently owns as part of their memberships. And some Xbox Insiders going forward may also see more experimental features — tests meant to probe for wider interest and to get feedback from a tight control group.
Here’s how PCMag sums up the Dolby Vision news:
“Xbox Insiders can now access System Update 1810 Preview on their Xbox and take advantage of Dolby Vision … It certainly counts as another feature Xbox has that PS4 doesn’t, but it does come with some expensive caveats. As well as an Xbox, you’ll also need a TV with support for Dolby Vision and access to content that can take advantage of it.”
One of the more intriguing announcements that Microsoft made at E3 2018 last month was regarding a new feature called FastStart that would allow Xbox One owners to start up select games twice as fast and begin playing even with just a small fraction of the game actually downloaded on to their console. This week, the July update began rolling out to everyone, which means you can test the feature as soon as you install the update.
There are a few caveats about FastStart worth noting though. First of all, it’s only enabled for English language titles in the Xbox Game Pass catalog at launch, so don’t expect it to work for a majority of your games. Second, you need at least 20 Mbps download speeds in order to use FastStart at all. Anything slower won’t work.
In addition to FastStart (which is the clear highlight of the update), Microsoft has also upgraded the Pins feature by letting users group their games. Groups let you make multiple collections of content from anything in My Games & Apps. You can give your Groups custom names, order them, and even add them to your home page.
Microsoft has made it easier to search for content as well. Going forward, all you need to do is hit the Y button from anywhere in the dashboard to bring up the search bar. You can use the search feature to find content in your library, games on the Xbox Store, or even to navigate to specific settings menus.
The July update also includes improvements for the Mixer streaming service and fixes to enhance broadcast video quality on the Xbox One, but you can read more about that over on the Xbox Wire.