Microsoft are currently going through a process of improving their integration with PC’s and Laptops and one more improvement which they’ve recently launched is the new Xbox Game Bar which is available for devices with Windows 10 installed.
Originally, the Game Bar was released last month, but now a full overlay, which appears to mimic Nvidia’s GeForce Experience or Discord was made available yesterday.
Each section now includes widgets which allow you to adjust elements, such as the volume or your monitor, CPU, GPU and RAM usage.
Microsoft is also integrating Spotify into the Game Bar which offers you the ability to manage the playback of the songs which you’re playing. There’s also an audio widget within the Game Bar which is can be activated by using the winkey+G. All of these widgets are designed to make the new layout more glanceable and allows you to toggle headset settings before getting straight back into the game.
Xbox friends list, messages and even looking for group (LFG) widgets are available with the options to display as many (or as few) as you would like. The entire interface is designed to be completely customisable and the widgets can be pinned into place.
The Game Bar is designed to work with the majority of games, but Microsoft are aiming for games build using the Vulkan API to run in window mode in order for the Game Bar to work.
“We’re in the early stages of our journey and the updated Xbox Game Bar experience is just the beginning”, explained the Xbox team. “As always, your feedback is important to us and our partners as we continue to evolve the Xbox Game Bar.”
The Game Bar comes just a day comes just a day after Microsoft had released their latest Windows 10 May 2019 update to everyone. While the update doesn’t include many additional features, Microsoft have certainly made it a priority to address some of it’s gaming shortcomings with the Game Bar.
Now we’re left waiting to see more work at E3 this year.
There are some things in life I can’t escape from.
Work, paying tax and an insatiable love for all things related to zombies.
When The Walking Dead was released, I was all over it. When Resident Evil was released, I was all over it. When the film World War Z was released, I was all over it.
In fact, I’ve not just seen World War Z once, I’ve seen it so many times that I have dreams of Brad Pitt’s beautiful blonde locks blowing in the wind as he runs through the streets carrying a sniper rifle embedded in my memory like a beautiful dream that haunts me every night.
Now, with the upcoming release of Days Gone, it’s fairly easy for people to have missed that the game version of World War Z was released. After all, there wasn’t exactly a great deal of hype surrounding the game and it kind of slipped in unnoticed save for a few adverts and some releases of the gameplay footage – but there was something about it that got me excited.
OK, it was the footage of the undead climbing on top of each other like an ant colony working together to swarm the living in numbers reaching the hundreds.
When the game was released, I was there, pre-ordered and ready to rock and make the undead…erm, re-dead?
On first take, the game is akin to a remake of Left 4 Dead and it’s probably the closest game that you could draw comparisons with since Left 4 Dead was released.
The game, much like Left 4 Dead, features linear missions which are designed to be a simple get from point-A to point-B without being killed by the hoards of undead that are actively trying to chomp on you. These linear missions are set across four different maps and the mission is divided into mini sub-missions.
The 4 different scenarios see you going to New York, Jerusalem, Moscow and Tokyo and inside each location there are different environments and tasks that you must complete before the mission is finished.
For example, in New York you find yourself trapped inside a shopping mall with wave after wave of zombie hoards looking to ruin your day and prevent you from making your way to the underground metro. Once you arrive at the metro station, you then have different missions which involve grabbing supplies along different stops of the metro until you reach the end of the metro line and then the mission is complete.
Each stop gets more difficult, as you’d imagine as you do have hundreds of skin eating zombies trying to halt your progress.
Another example of the similarity with Left 4 Dead is the variations that you get in the different types of zombies you can encounter. While you have the standard zombies, there are also tougher opponents such as the “screamers” which make loud noises to alert the zombie hoard of your whereabouts and the “Bull” which is basically a huge tank of a zombie wearing combat gear who storms into your location and repeatedly rock bottoms you until one of your team mates helps you out by killing him.
Having the variation in enemies makes the game more exciting and gives it more of a creepy element as well as you can be running through a seemingly quiet point in the map and then a cretinous screamer will spear you to the ground and beat on you until your teammates help you out.
This is also one point that makes you realise than in order to survive, especially on the harder missions, you’ll need to work as a team.
With this in mind, it’s worth pointing out that the standard zombies aren’t difficult to kill. In fact, a swing of a machete or a couple of bullets is enough to put one of them down but this doesn’t make the game simple or easy. Sure if there are one or two zombies you won’t even break sweat, but the point of the game is that things escalate quickly and that one or two soon becomes one or two hundred and then that’s where the fun really begins.
Whilst running through the missions, I couldn’t help but feel that 2019’s answer for Left 4 Dead had also taken certain elements from popular looter shooter, The Division, as well. By that I mean that the game also has elements of scavenging for guns, ammo and health packs as well – albeit on a much smaller scale. This means that you have the change to upgrade and improve upon the basic weapons that you’re given at the start of the game if you’re prepared to keep a watchful eye out for the crates that are located on the map.
The weapons that you get on the game are pretty basic, but again this isn’t a bad thing. During the mission you get to find upgrades to your primary and secondary weapon and you can also find “heavy weapons”, such as a grenade launcher. This adds to The Division feel and it makes scavenging worthwhile as you get to pick up better weapons.
While the prospect of facing down 5,000 zombies might seem to much for some, there is something satisfying about finding a corner so you can’t get attacked from behind, aiming forward and then unleashing hell on any zombie who is unfortunate enough to think they can bring you down. Likewise, walking through a hoard of them swinging your machete around like there’s no tomorrow is equally satisfying.
Come to think of it, using the machete provides more fun than it should. Seeing body parts go flying across the screen in different directions as you’re slashing your way through a corridor provides you with your fill of blood and gore as well as providing some laughs as well.
While mentioning the blood and gore, it’s good to point out that while the graphics are good, they’re not particularly groundbreaking but once the mission gets fully underway, the gameplay more than makes up for it.
If you’re looking for a game with a good narrative and interesting storyline, this isn’t the game for you. If you’ve read the book or watched the movie, you’re probably expecting something similar but you won’t find it in the game and that’s OK.
The game doesn’t promise a storyline and instead offers you the chance to take out your frustrations on hundreds, nay thousands, of zombies and this provides a sort of relaxing satisfaction that only popping heads and severing limbs can provide.
World War Z is fun, it’s exciting, it’s fast-paced, it’s overwhelming.
So far I’ve really enjoyed the time I’ve spent on the game. Would I say it goes up there with the best, most in-depth games I’ve ever played? No. However, it sits perfectly alongside fan favourite zombie games such as Left 4 Dead and that’s perfectly fine with me, in fact, it’s something that’s been missing from my games cabinet for a while now
Being a fan of The Division brings many things with it but one thing that seems to stand out the most is disappointment.
Not in the game itself, the game is brilliant and it’s earned its place as on my all time favourite games and one which I spend the most time on. Instead, I’m referring to the issues, bugs and delays which have plagued the game since the first instalment and are still present today.
Many people felt that The Division 2 was the chance to make everything right and get everyone back on board and getting us all loving the game again and, in large, it has succeeded. However, lingering disappointments still remain and this is something which has happened again.
If you cast your mind back to the announcement of The Division 2 and to the announcement of the additional DLC which would be coming our way in Year 1, you might have gotten a bit excited of the prospect of taking part in the 8-player Raids which were making their overdue appearance in The Division 2.
While at the start there was no concrete date set for the release of Raids at the start, the recent announcement of an April 25th release got everyone excited. We all began finishing our builds, getting The Division 2 brand sets locked down getting our clans together and selecting 7 players who would be able to take the journey to new areas to compete in new challenges with us.
Well, lay down your arms folks as they’ve been delayed.
That’s right, while Operation Dark Hours was meant to be hitting our consoles this week, developers Massive Entertainment have now asked for more time to fine tune problems that they’ve been having and make sure that Operation Dark Hours is smooth and enjoyable – and I don’t necessarily think that this is a bad thing.
The reason for this is because we’ve often seen updates come to us which have created more bugs than they’ve solved or introduced us to a new series of bugs which then left waiting for a patch to resolve and I’m happy that Massive are trying to break this trend and make sure that everything works from right from the off. In order to make this happen, they’ve delayed the release of Operation Dark Hours until May – with no definite ETA being announced.
Another piece of news coming from The Division camp is that the developers are looking to recruit players of the game in order to help see how well the updates and balancing changes work before pushing the changes live for everyone else to enjoy.
In order to do this, they’re released a Public Test Server (PTS) with the aim of structuring the testing in phases, each phase lasting a couple of days, with a focus on testing specific aspects of the game.
Through surveys and forum threads, they’ll collect feedback from those who participated in the PTS and implement the suggested changes before releasing the updates to the general public.
The PTS is available to PC gamers and, if you’re playing on PC, you can now test out Title Update 3 which is available on the server. Don’t get any ideas of testing out Raids, however, as Operation Dark Hours won’t be available on the PTS as it’s only set to go live when the update is officially released.
Battle Royale games don’t often sit right with me. It’s not that the games are bad, instead it’s more that the games become a monumental challenge which I find difficult to adjust to, especially when I’m more used to games where you grind for gear, such as The Division 2 (read about our Division 2 Brands and Bonuses), or levelling up allows you to unlock better weapons as you would normally find in games like Call of Duty Black Ops 4 (read our Call of Duty Black Ops 4 Review) or Battlefield.
It’s not just me.
Even the best players in Battle Royale games can spend an untold amount of hours running through different sessions only to get killed and be out of the game just because they didn’t manage to get a decent weapon in time.
Foraging for armour and weapons does sound like fun. But when the circle begins to shrink and you find yourself being shot and killed and having to restart and do it all over again in the next round, it becomes laborious.
In games such as these, skill is certainly of the essence. Also, you need patience and good communication if you’re working in a team. If you know someone is near, you need to communicate this with your team mates. If you know where a supply drop is, you need to communicate this with your team mates. When you’re working in a team, there is no ‘I’ because, the better equipped your team is, the better your chances are of survival.
With this in mind, I decided to give Respawn Entertainments Apex Legends a bash.
Firstly, as discussed, teamwork is an important element and Apex goes someway in making sure that communication is as easy and as clear as possible thanks to their unique ping system. The idea is that there is a single button which allows you to simply tap and let everyone know what you’re doing.
This means that if you’re teaming up with strangers, you don’t need to sit with the microphone glued to your face in order to communicate what you’re up to.
Want to tell others where to go? Point to the area on the map, ping it and viola. Want to talk about a weapon upgrade on the map? Aim your crosshair on the upgrade and ping it. Seen a nearby bunker and want to hold up there? Ping it. Want them to order a pizza to be delivered to your house…OK, that won’t work, but you could try?
In other games, playing with strangers has been unbearable. Yodelling commands, pointless exclamations in the microphone, rampant music in the background, dogs barking in the background (maybe just my dog), you get the point.
The ping system goes someway in highlighting that it’s one of the core features of Apex Legends and this makes it one of the best Battle Royale games that I’ve come across as there is an emphasis on cooperation. Reviving squad mates when they’re near death is a feature among all modern shooters and getting knocked down doesn’t mean that you’re out for the count in Apex.
Instead, when you’re down, you can be given a new lease of life if someone takes the banner which your character drops upon death and then places it on one of the beacons that are dotted around the map.
This gives less experienced players some breathing room and allows them to pick up the basics of the game and highlights the importance of working together. After all, it’s unlikely that you’re going to get very far on your lonesome when other players also have the opportunity to revive their squad members.
The game also brings in character classes that we’re familiar with in other games. Think Overwatch. The game focuses on similar classes from classic shooters and comes with a combat-focused Bangalore, a defensive tank build called Gibraltar and the stealth class known as Wraith.
The notion of choosing and learning about different classes on different games does come across as quite a daunting task for many of us. Picking a certain class often provides a wildly different experience and it also corresponds with a steeper learning curve at the same time.
Not with Apex Legends and, instead, the game focuses more on equality.
The classes are different enough for their abilities to remain unique, but they’re also similar enough so that they complement each other rather than replace. This makes switching classes less complex and it builds into the idea that teamwork is important rather than just running around on your own with the legend with the best abilities.
While this sounds good, it can also act as a negative for some, because the game removes the ability to play solo or as a duo and instead only squad mode is available which is disappointing for those who prefer single player gameplay.
Much like other Battle Royale games, the core mechanics behind the game is to be the last one standing.
The game features a smaller number of players in a session and this allows for smoother gameplay compare to other games I’ve tested. The graphics are also top notch which adds to the positive experience that I’ve had playing Apex Legends. Also, the game features a number of weapons and add-ons which are fun and generally great to use.
On the whole, Apex Legends is a great game. It’s fun to play and it’s very addictive.
It’s fun for those who are new to the battle royale scene and the team play element means that it’s fun for those, like me, who aren’t typically drawn to the battle royale games.
Being a free game as well also means that it’s definitely worth a try and you’re not losing out if it’s not too your liking. Who knows, you might just find a new favourite in your game collection.
Back in 2012, the UFC announced their partnership with gaming giants EA. With THQ losing the rights to the UFC product, EA would go on to produce, as of right now, three UFC titles. With EA Sports UFC releasing in 2013, the sequel in 2016 and the most recent instalment of the franchise in 2018.
It’s no surprise that EA took the popular series to new heights, with groundbreaking visuals and a quintessential presentation that captures the atmosphere of a real life UFC event. With each game they are learning from their previous mistakes and creating a complex yet accessible engine to replicate the unpredictable thrill of the sport of MMA.
However, there’s always room for improvement. And with the fourth game likely to come within the next year, here are 5 things that we want to see in EA Sports UFC 4.
MULTIPLE VERSIONS OF THE FIGHTERS:
In THQ’s UFC Undisputed 3, many fighters featured multiple versions of themselves that the player was able to choose from. Rather than having just one form, some fighters would have separate characters that would be based upon them from a previous year. After all, fighters can go through many images during their career.
This would be a nice little feature for the next instalment of the EA franchise.
You want UFC 205 Conor McGregor? Maybe 194? Maybe a version based upon his Cage Warrior days? The more variety the better, and this could be applied to more than half of the fighters on the roster for sure.
In 2011, EA Sports surprised everyone with Fight Night: Champion’s story mode. With what was formerly known just seen as a fun, competitive sports game, EA’s most recent Fight Night game managed to pull off an engaging narrative, with gritty characters and storylines that fit the genre perfectly. Despite being a bit predictable and corny here and there, the story mode was actually really enjoyable as it had you follow the rollercoaster career of the protagonist Andre Bishop.
Fight Night isn’t the only EA Sports title to feature a story mode either, as the FIFA franchise now tells the story of Alex Hunter in ‘The Journey’.
Without a doubt the could pull off an MMA storyline, especially with how popular the sport has become in recent years, no doubt a Conor McGregor inspired storyline would be enjoyable to play. Rising from the lower organisations to the pinnacle of the sport. Whatever approach EA would take, we’d love to play it.
CAREER MODE REVAMP:
Over the course of three games, EA has featured the essential career mode with each entry in the sports series. With each one having quite a simple, classic approach to a career mode. Create your fighter, pick your weight class, and off you go. Building your way up to the top with simulated training sessions and negligible training games to prepare you for each bout.
Despite this format being built upon and definitely being improved since their first game back in 2014, they seem to be tied down to the repeated, mundane career mode that lacks any real engagement to your fighter’s progression. THQ’s UFC Undisputed series featured many great approaches to your career. With a wide variety of fun training games that actually make it feel like your fighter is getting better, to interactive weigh-ins and post-fight interviews with Joe Rogan, it’s the little details that count sometimes, and the Undisputed series blended together the excitement of MMA with the enjoyment of a career mode well, and we’d like to see EA take a page out of their book.
PRIDE FIGHTING CHAMPIONSHIPS:
Once again, we’d like to see EA take a page out of THQ’s book with this one. In 2012’s UFC Undisputed 3, the series introduced PRIDE mode. A mode based upon the popular MMA organisation that spanned from 1997-2007.
The organisation competed with the pinnacle of the sport of the UFC, with a stacked roster full of some of MMA’s all-time greats while offering an entirely different set of rules from the UFC, with PRIDE notoriously allowing soccer kicks and a variety of other strikes that would be classed as illegal if thrown in the octagon. THQ perfectly captured PRIDE Fighting in UFC Undisputed 3. With the full PRIDE soundtrack, commentary, announcers, an exemplary recreation of the Saitama Super Arena, PRIDE variations of fighters and even a screen filter to make it look retro, it was a well accomplished reproduction of one of MMA’s best eras, and EA must feature it in their next title. It would be a crime not too.
A NEW GRAPPLING SYSTEM:
One of the biggest problems facing the franchise currently, is the grappling system. Other than the odd tweak here and there, EA has practically kept the same flawed grappling system since their first instalment.
Over the span of 3 games, the grappling has grown more and more stale and frustrating. While the striking system has evolved significantly throughout the series, it manages to capture the thrill of an all out brawl as well as a technical chess match, whereas once the fight turns to grappling the game fails to capture the reality of it.
It’s slow, it’s sluggish, and it just doesn’t feel fun or fair. Picking grappling oriented fighters doesn’t seem to have the right benefits to it other than your transition speed being quicker than your opponent.
This shouldn’t be the case.
When I pick Demain Maia, I want my opponent to fear going to the mat with me, rather than embracing it and being able wriggle out of a rear naked choke as CM Punk. This is a bit of an exaggeration, but there are times where your fighter doesn’t feel justified. And the clinch system is the same.
Not to sound like a repeating record, but THQ’s grappling system, despite being a bit out of date now, had the right idea. It felt fast, fluid and fun. The submissions didn’t feel over-complicated and unfair, the clinching was explosive as well as calculated. Ground and pound was fast and brutal and initiating and defending transitions was simple but effective. It just felt perfectly balanced. Like they did with the striking in UFC 3, EA need to rebuild the grappling system from the ground up and hopefully take some inspiration from THQ.
If they tweaked the striking in some aspects while adding some nice fresh animations along with a whole new grappling system, we could potentially have the best MMA gameplay we’ve ever had.
It’s no secret that over the last few years, the gaming world has taken huge strides towards becoming an industry which is more inclusive of females and female gamers.
It’s no surprise either, as the ongoing journey for equality for women in gaming is something that has brought with it a lot of social attention: including a lot of debates and scrutiny.
If we cast our minds back to 2014, the gaming community was rocked by the Gamergate controversy and this opened up a huge debate about sexism and progressivism within gaming culture. Inequality and misogyny were examined and this made it abundantly clear that the industry needed drastic change and to welcome the inclusion of women, not just in the gaming community, but in all areas of the gaming industry – An industry which has been male-centric for decades.
Nowadays, the idea that women have a firm place within the industry isn’t just a notion, instead it’s something which has been highlighted, celebrated and discussed on an almost daily basis.
If you take a look at some of the most popular titles, women are now at the helm. These titles include the likes of Tomb Raider, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Dead Rising 2, Prototype 2 and Star Wars: The Old Republic.
Although we’re heading in the right direction, we can’t just accept we’re in a good place now, instead, we need to acknowledge that there is still much work to be done.
As today is International Women’s Day, here at MyGamesMedia, we want to acknowledge and celebrate the women within the gaming community, not just those who have worked hard to deliver massive titles, but everyone behind the brands of a whole host of indie games.
When it comes to gaming, there are loads of examples of positive change and we are now seeing just how powerful a force women can be in numerous areas of the industry.
Now, instead of imagining a teenage boy, locked in his bedroom playing a console, the latest statistics show that, as of 2017, the split between male and female gamers was closer to 59% male and 41% female.
If you thought that women were only playing games, then you’d be wrong. Women have also found their place within the industry as well and they are accepting awards annually for their contributions to the industry as a whole.
The Women in Gaming Diversity Awards has been running for over 8 years and is widely celebrated as being a brilliant opportunity for employers to begin recognising diversity in their company and the way in which women have contributed towards the overall success of businesses everywhere.
If we rewind to a decade ago, then we’ll remember how much of a challenge it would have been to bring together as little as 100 women from inside the gaming community. Now we have awards which celebrate just the top 100 women.
These events are hugely encouraging and they highlight the success women bring to the industry and the gaming community as a whole, as well as highlighting how important it is to have a diversified industry.
The issue of gender equality isn’t only being noticed and challenge by awards events.
The issue of inequality in gaming has also got the attention of tech heavyweights Facebook and Google and they’ve taken action and are continually striving to encourage more diversity in gaming.
Last year, Facebook announced that it was launching their Women In Gaming Initiative, an initiative which aims to bring women together and create a platform where women can share their stories and the challenges they faced while trying to enter the gaming industry.
Google also joined the celebration of women but showcasing games and apps developed by women on the Google Play Store.
One thing is for certain, while we all use International Women’s Day to celebrate the genius, success and achievements of women within all industries, we need to strive for it to be more than just a once-a-year event.
Instead, the achievements of women should be celebrated all year round and we need to realise their creative influence which goes into some of the most-loved games and that women also make up a lot of the most loved characters in gaming.