Gaming

Is Microsoft working on two new Xbox One consoles?

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Microsoft’s Xbox One has been playing catch up to Sony’s PlayStation 4 since the start of the current console generation in 2013. This kind of fall from grace from Microsoft is unexpected given the Xbox 360’s previous dominance over the PS3.

Many critics say the biggest flaws of the Xbox One boil down to two things: It’s underpowered compared to Sony’s video-game console; and, it’s big as hell.

It’s true that the Xbox One is much larger than the PS4, party because Microsoft wanted it to have better heat tolerance than its predecessor, especially after last generation’s “red ring of death” fiasco. It’s also true that the modern Xbox is lacking on the performance front, with games like Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, Destiny, and Metal Gear Solid V all running better on the PS4, which has a faster graphics processor.

Microsoft is well aware that many gamers aren’t big fans of its console, and the company is hoping to fix the problem before it’s too late. A new report from Kotaku claims Microsoft will launch a cheaper and slimmer Xbox One before the end of 2016.

And in 2017, it will be releasing a more powerful version of the console. Kotaku said the 2017 Xbox One, codenamed “Scorpio,” will have an upgraded GPU capable of supporting Facebook’s Oculus Rift. To that end, Microsoft is also rumored to be pursuing a partnership with the makers of the popular VR headset.

These latest developments look to keep the console maker in step with Sony’s future plans involving PlayStation VR and PlayStation Neo, a better version of the PlayStation 4 Sony has been reportedly working on.

Could a new Xbox One be Microsoft’s new lease on life? Will 2017 be the year of the Xbox? These questions, and more, will likely be addressed at Microsoft’s E3 press conference on June 13.

So, what are your thoughts on a potentially cheaper and slimmer Xbox One and an Xbox One refresh? Sound off in the comments below.

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Kingdom Hearts 3 has adorable retro mini-games!

Game inception intensifies

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This weekend, Square Enix showed off the Kingdom Hearts 3 trailer featuring adorable playable retro-style mini-games! The new mini-games are inspired by classic Disney cartoons and 1980s LCD games. They’ll be available to play in both Kingdom Hearts Union Cross and Kingdom Hearts 3. You’ll have to check this one out now.

As you can see, the trailer is set in Twilight Town where Sora is given a handheld where he plays various cute mini-games. You can see Donald and Goofy cheering Sora on as they lean over to watch. There are over 20 LCD games available to play but Square Enix only featured four of them in the trailer.

Here’s a quick rundown of all four of the games they featured:

The Barnyard Battle

Sora and Mickey stand on two anvils. You have to turn them left and right to smack enemies with a hammer as they come down. Your goal seems to be to smack enemies before they get through you — a linear whack-a-mole, I guess.

The Karnival Kid

The Karnival Kid looks to be a black-and-white Disney Diner Dash where you’ll be taking orders from customers that come to your hotdog stand. It looks to be a nice classic strategy game that you might get addicted to.

Giantland

Giantland looks like a typical boss battle with a giant, but looking closer into the trailer, it seems like players will need to swing on chandeliers to rescue Minnie who is calling out for help. It looks like you have things on the table to hide from him so you might want to use that to your advantage.

Musical Farmer

There are chickens on the top of the screen that drop eggs into tubes. Your goal is to guide them into crates by rotating the tubes to guide the eggs. If they reach the crates, you can give them to Mickey or Minnie. The crates can only hold a certain number of eggs at a time, so you’ll need to keep a close eye.

The other 16 games have not yet been revealed and fans may have to wait it out. If you’d want to give them a try, they’re available on Kingdom Hearts Union Cross on Android and iOS.

SEE ALSO: Square Enix will be re-releasing games on the Switch

SEE ALSO: Pokémon might release its eighth generation on the Nintendo Switch

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Pokémon might release its eighth generation on the Nintendo Switch

Did you see this one coming?

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Pokémon fans are pretty much speculating on the mysterious game that’s going to be released for the Nintendo Switch. It still is, of course, under development so everything is still pretty hushed. Since the game is quite a while away from its release, people can’t help theorizing what the game could be. That aside, the latest bit of interesting news comes from a tweet that revealed the game’s kick-off of the franchise’s eighth generation.

This may have contradicted what most fans have been predicting since a lot of people have thought the upcoming Pokémon Switch game would have gamers return to Kanto for a series reboot. Of course, Nintendo hasn’t officially denied that theory — encouraging much of the community to talk about the upcoming game. In the official Nintendo Magazine shown in the tweet, it’s clear that fans could be wrong and the game might potentially be releasing a new generation entirely. I suppose fans didn’t call it this time around but there’s still some glimmer of hope.

I say “potentially” and “could be” because there hasn’t been any word from Nintendo themselves. It’s looking more and more like they’re rounding up their team and focusing on the new Super Smash Bros. game instead. Then again, they could be keeping quiet until an official announcement at E3 this summer. Nintendo has not confirmed or launched the title of the game nor the release date, so we may have to sit this one out and wait. If there’s a big reveal at E3, it’s happening on June 12 to June 14 in Los Angeles, California.

SEE ALSO: God of War: A must-play for 2018

SEE ALSO: The Adventure Pals review: A peculiar platformer to play and troll your friends with!

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God of War: A must-play for 2018

Like Kratos, this game has grown like fine wine

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I’ll try my best not to overhype this, but God of War is an easy, early entry for 2018’s game of the year.

Okay, I may have failed that hyping part, but that’s exactly how you’ll feel too after getting your ass kicked by the first semi-boss battle thinking this is the same game you conquered years back. After trying, and failing, to hack-and-slash your way through that battle, you’ll quickly realize how much more depth this game has compared to the God of War games that came before it.

The first thing that jumps out at you is the series-lead Kratos. He’s now bearded, looks older, and definitely acts wiser. Going through the first hour or so of the game, you’ll see that this is not the same vengeance-seeking beast that unleashed a vicious assault for one Greek god after another.

Kratos is now more measured. Retribution is no longer his single driving force. It’s more a sense of duty — duty to fulfill a promise to his wife who had passed and a duty to raise their son Atreus, who’s a key part both in the story and the gameplay.

Atreus is the man

The idea of a vengeful Spartan warrior fueled by rampage having a son seemed unimaginable at first, but bringing Atreus into the fold proved to be the perfect way to expand God of War. The passing of his wife leaves Atreus in his care; Atreus adds depth to Kratos.

At the beginning of the game, he teaches the child how to hunt. You can hear the frustration in his voice as the boy fails in his first attempt. Instead of going ballistic, he reigns himself in before providing stern and sound advice.

The interplay between father and son is present nearly the entire duration of the game. Their dialogue goes on not only in cinematic scenes but even as you go through the game whether you’re searching for clues, solving puzzles, or just trying to figure out where to go next.

Atreus aids you in battle. His arrow can stun opponents or take their attention off of you, and his proficiency and power grow as the game progresses. However, that’s not the only area where Atreus proves helpful. The boy is able to read ancient writings that provide clues on how you can solve puzzles or move on from a certain point.

One shot is all it takes

One of the biggest technical accomplishments of the game is how it’s a one-shot story, which means there’s absolutely zero loading screens. That’s a challenge both in game production and storytelling. From the get-go, it puts you right in the heart of the action being in the shoes of the central figures of the story. It makes for an ultra-immersive experience that will leave you invested in how their relationship develops.

It doesn’t feel like a straight-up tutorial, but the game uses the first 8 to 10 hours to show you the ropes. From attacking, using Atreus, upgrading your equipment, and many others. After that, it opens up to a slew of side quests that can be as satisfying as pushing the story forward. While it is by no means a true open-world game, it’s wide enough that it lets you explore, but not too wide that you feel overwhelmed by all the possibilities.

It’s still about Kratos

With all of that said, this is still a God of War game, meaning Kratos is still at the heart of it. In many ways, this new Kratos mirrors the game’s growth. In the previous era wherein he unapologetically laid waste to the Greek gods, Kratos seemed more one-dimensional. He had one goal and that was to exact revenge and the games’ hack-and-slash approach reflected that.

This older Kratos appears to have grown as he is forced into a situation where he has to care for his child. Fatherhood puts the Spartan warrior in an unfamiliar place. While there is still rage within him, he appears more subdued. At times he struggles with how to speak with Atreus and it’s that very struggle that shows a side of Kratos we likely have never seen before: a tenderness that’s somehow out of character.

Don’t let that fool you, though. There’s still plenty of raging Kratos here. What this game has masterfully done is retain the identity and history of the previous God of War games while infusing it with learnings from the games that have come during the franchise’s hiatus.

The easiest comparison you’ll see is how it’s a more casual-gamer-friendly version of Dark Souls. And while I did think that, the approach feels more derivative rather than a direct recreation.

Nothing communicates that experience better than Kratos’ new weapon: the Leviathan axe. Gone are the chain blades that devastated draugrs and gods alike. Kratos’ axe is infused with ice magic, able to stun opponents. One of the most badass parts of the game is how you can throw the axe and summon it right back. But don’t think for a second that Kratos will be helpless without the axe. You still have his shield and his bare hands, and that’s sometimes required to defeat certain foes.

The battle system still feels as satisfying as ever. It requires more thinking than straight-up slashing which should be a welcome challenge whether you’re a veteran of the franchise or you’re being introduced to it through this game.

God of War

Even though Kratos has aged, nothing about this game feels old. There’s still enough God of War oomph that endeared it to its long-time fans while adding elements that can easily be embraced by a newer generation of gamers looking to dig into the lore of the franchise.

This is by far the easiest single-player, story-driven game to recommend to anyone this year. If you have time to play only a handful of games on the PS4 this year, God of War should be on that list.

SEE ALSO: God of War: An older Kratos needs a wiser you

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