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    Xbox One Custom

    Microsoft's Xbox division will be at next week's San Diego Comic-Con event, and to celebrate the company is giving away 20 Xbox One consoles, each of which has a cool custom case art design based on a game or TV show. The best thing is that you don't have to be at Comic-Con in order to win one of them

    Here are the three method of entry in the giveaway:

    • At San Diego Comic-Con: Stop by the Xbox Lounge and take a photo of your favorite console. Post your photo to Instagram or Twitter tagged with #XboxSweepstakes and #SDCC, and you're entered to win!
    • Xbox Live: Log onto Xbox Live on your Xbox One or Xbox 360, and look for the SDCC Collectible Console Sweepstakes experience to enter.
    • Twitter: Follow @Xbox to learn how to win a Gears of War: Ultimate Edition collectible Xbox One console.

    You can check out images of each of the custom Xbox One consoles on the official Xbox Facebook page. If you happen to be attending Comic-Con (and if you are, you are lucky since tickets sold out months ago), you can go to the Manchester Grand Hyatt for the Xbox Gaming Lounge. Microsoft will have some upcoming Xbox One games for attendees to try out like Halo 5: Guardians, Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, Forza 6, Tom Clancy's The Division, and Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2, along with tournaments and appearances by unnamed celebrities.

    Source: Xbox Wire, Xbox Events


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    Take a first look at Super Dungeon Bros, a co-op Roguelike coming to Xbox One and Windows 10

    Way back in 2008, indie studio React Games emerged to remake the classic strategy game Archon for consoles and PC. Since then, the studio has mostly created mobile games and apps such as Dragons Adventure Companion for select Lumia Windows Phones. This winter, they return to console gaming with Super Dungeon Bros for Xbox One, Windows 10, PC, Mac, and PlayStation 4.

    As the title implies, Super Dungeon Bros is a cooperative dungeon crawler. Up to four players will team up as the titular band of roadies on a quest to discover the legends of rock in a dark musical world. With challenging Roguelike elements, impressive co-op features, and a unique banter system, Super Dungeon Bros looks like a co-op game to keep an eye on. Read on for our impressions and video with developer interview and gameplay!

    Meet the Bros

    The Super Dungeon Bros are a group of roadies who live in the medieval fantasy realm of Rökheim. These dudes don't have actual musical talent, but they love music itself. They'll need all their roadie know-how and fighting skills as they embark on a quest to "uncover the legends of long lost fabled Rock Stars" in Rökheim's deadliest dungeons.

    The four Bros all play the same, but each has a distinctive personality that comes across in his banter. The team consists of:

    • Axl (blue): The muscle of the group; prefers to solve problems with violence
    • Freddy (red): The group's craziest member, he's dumb, silly, and fun.
    • Lars (yellow): Thinks of himself as a ladies' man, but terrible at talking to women. Hopes to hook up with the queen of Chillheim, the second world of the game.
    • Ozzie (green): A genius but also quite a prankster; excels at making traps.

    Super Dungeon Bros

    Weapons

    Since the Bros all play the same, weapons are how gamers will experience different playstyles. Each weapon class has its own strengths and weaknesses, plus a unique co-op move.

    Basic weapon types include:

    • Swords: Can create the Bro Nado, the game's signature move. The sword wielder swirls into a tornado, sucks up other players (regardless of their weapon types), and moves around the screen. The more players in a Bro Nado, the more damage it deals.
    • Crossbows: Ranged weapon, requires ammunition. The limited ammunition encourages strategic play rather than mindless shooting.
    • Hammers: Deliver lethal melee blows.
    • Wands: Fight with magic and perform buffs and debuffs on your friends and enemies.

    Super Dungeon Bros

    Teaming up to take down dungeon bosses

    The realm of Rökheim consists of three worlds: Cryptheim, Chillheim, and Bogheim. Our Bros will have to explore dungeons within these worlds, all procedurally generated so they change every time. Each dungeon has five sections filled with monsters, pits, and traps. Huge bosses await on the final floor of every dungeon.

    Super Dungeon Bros is a Roguelike, so individual trips through the three worlds will be short but challenging. The game offers lots of loot to search for and unlock in order to keep players coming back. Some of these include new skins, weapons, rock albums and songs, and much more.

    In addition to normal dungeons, players will be able to compete in Daily and Weekly dungeons akin to the daily and weekly levels in Rayman Legends. Unlike the normal dungeons, these limited time dungeons will be instanced so that everyone faces the same challenge. Players only get one shot at each daily dungeon, they'll be able to replay the weekly dungeon any number of times throughout the week.

    Super Dungeon Bros

    Bro-operative play coming to Xbox One and Windows 10 game

    Super Dungeon Bros supports single-player and local co-op with any combination of local and online players. That means two players on the same system can hop online to form a team with two more online players, etc. "Combo co-op" is a relatively uncommon feature, so it's always great to see developers who plan to include it from the get-go. Plus the Xbox One and Windows 10 versions will be able to play together!

    Naturally React will include several co-op features such as picking up and throwing other players, reviving fallen Bros, and team-based special moves. The team only gets five shared lives per dungeon, so everyone needs to work together.

    The most unique co-op feature here is the contextual banter system. When one player activates dialog with the d-pad, his Bros can opt to deliver unique responses in the same way. I'm not sure how much banter really adds to the game, but I'm looking forward to trying it out down the line.

    \Super Dungeon Bros E3 2015 photo

    React Games hopes to release Super Dungeon Bros this winter – they'll announce more specifics next month. The game will come to Xbox One, Windows 10, PC, Mac, and PlayStation 4. Super Dungeon Bros will support cross-platform multiplayer on Xbox One and Windows 10 – hopefully that means it'll be a universal purchase too!


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    Rocksteady closes their epic Batman trilogy with a military-grade bang in Batman: Arkham Knight.

    Rocksteady Studios have consistently delivered a master-class in how to build a game based on existing IP. Both Arkham Asylum and Arkham City achieved review scores in the 90s, and so far it seems like Arkham Knight will be no different.

    While Arkham Knight's launch has been making headlines because of its broken PC port, the Xbox One version is near flawless on a technical level. And it's this version that forms the basis of this review.

    So, is this the perfect end to what's been an awesome trilogy? Or do Rocksteady Studios fall at the last hurdle?

    Setting & Graphics

    Welcome to Gotham City

    Rocksteady has painstakingly recreated the classic Gotham City for Arkham Knight, complete with ACE Chemicals, Wayne Tower and various other landmarks from Batman mythology. The city's open-world bleakness is matched only by its attention to detail. Arkham Knight's Gotham is littered with subtle references and details in homage to the DC Universe. This includes various references to Superman's domain of Metropolis, leading many to think Rocksteady's next game may soar to whole new heights.

    Throughout my time with Batman Arkham Knight, I haven't encountered a single crash, a single instance of screen tearing or slowdown

    Batman: Arkham Knight is PS4, Xbox One and (eventually) PC only, and that new-gen exclusivity shines. Gotham is rendered in Unreal Engine 3 and proves that the aging engine still packs plenty of wallop. The draw distance is positively insane - a dive from the top of Wayne Tower reveals the full breadth of play-space available to you, which is equal parts daunting and enthralling. The sheer amount of detail found across the game's locations and characters place Batman: Arkham Knight among true new-gen games.

    Throughout my time with Batman Arkham Knight, I haven't encountered a single crash, a single instance of screen tearing or slowdown. Arkham Knight, like the other games, side-steps the gritty realism of the famed Nolan movies, opting instead to remain firmly in the comic book realm. From Poison Ivy's scientifically-questionable mutant plants to meta-human hybrids like Man-Bat, Rocksteady's Arkham Knight revels in the wackiest elements of Batman lore and emerges credibility unscathed. Batman has always provided us with a warped, nightmarish reflection of Western living, and Arkham Knight's Gotham is no different.

    Story

    Darker than 'The Dark Knight'

    Truly, the crown jewel of Arkham Knight is its story. As a Batman fan, I've longed for a movie that was a more accurate reflection of the comic books, and I think Arkham Knight is as close to the mark as it gets. Picking up the 18-rating from the ESRB is undoubtedly a step towards this. The 18-rating allows for the retelling of some of Batman's bloodiest moments from the comic books in grim flashbacks and Fear Toxin induced hallucinations.

    The Arkham Knight leads a vast mercenary army, who sport advanced technology and a huge drone arsenal.

    Praising Batman Arkham Knight's story without spoilers is incredibly hard, but the bait-and-switch between the events of Arkham City and Arkham Knight is masterful storytelling and elevates some of the lesser Batman villains as a result. Scarecrow is (on paper) the primary threat in Arkham Knight - he's concocted a new type of Fear Gas that is so potent that it leads people into a self-destructive psychosis. The effects of this are seen right at the beginning of the game, as he unleashes it on an unsuspecting diner to devastating result. Gotham City's population drains in a massive evacuation, and it's up to Batman to discover what Scarecrow is up to. Batman's efforts are complicated by the titular Arkham Knight - a self-styled Batman imposter who carries a pathological hatred of Batman. The Arkham Knight leads a vast mercenary army, who sport advanced technology and a huge drone arsenal.

    On his quest to stop Scarecrow, Batman runs the gauntlet of an entire gallery of super-villains and is tormented throughout by the events of the previous games. The method of delivery for this torment is sheer genius and is almost on par with 'Metal Gear Solid' for its bait-and-switch twists-and-turns.

    The Arkham Knight draws heavy inspiration from Batman's darkest comics, the authenticity of the Nolan movies and the nightmarish comedy of Batman: The Animated Series. Rocksteady weaves all facets of Batman's most desperate moments into the Arkhamverse with grim surgical precision. Batman: Arkham Knight might be the greatest portrayal of Bat-lore outside of the comics, beating the Academy award-winning Nolan movies in my opinion. I wish I could say more without spoiling the game, which is laced with break-neck plot-twists right from the start. But, if you're a fan of Batman in any incarnation this is the video game you've been waiting for.

    Batman: Arkham Knight's rich story has reignited my passion for Batman. As a fan, I hope that Warner Brothers look to emulate Rocksteady's comic book-leaning portrayal of The Dark Knight, as opposed to Hollywood's recent attempts at hyper-realism.

    Gameplay

    Be the Bat

    Rocksteady's Arkham series invigorates the beat 'em up genre with a fast and reactive combat system; that is equal parts rewarding and challenging. They haven't gone to great lengths to change the formula in Arkham Knight (if it ain't broke - don't fix it). But, the Arkham Knight himself has thrown some fresh dangers into the mix to catch veterans off-guard. The Arkham Knight's 'militia' enemies come at Batman with military tactics. For example, medics can resurrect defeated soldiers, as well as electro-charge their comrade's armor to make them untouchable.

    Similarly, in the stealth-focussed 'Predator' sequences, the Arkham Knight's militia are far more deadly than the standard enemies of previous games. They toss grenades into ventilation ducts, track Batman when he uses his IR Detective Mode and deploy a whole host of other new weapons and tools - including an army of drone tanks and bombers.

    To combat this, Batman also sports new weapons. The iconic Batmobile is now playable for the first time in the Arkham series, taking design inspiration from Nolan's 'tumbler' and some of the most classic schematics. The Arkham Knight Batmobile can be toggled into a highly mobile tank, allowing you to ditch the typical car controls and instead move with wheels that allow for lateral motion. New toys mean new upgrades, and the Batmobile can eventually turn into an all-purpose mobile battle platform complete with hacking, EMP fields, and homing missiles. Despite this fire-power, when shooting human enemies the Batmobile deploys rubber bullets and electric shocks - Batman does not kill.

    Some reviewers have decried the Batmobile's handling, but after practice I think Rocksteady's implementation is, well, rock steady. Flipping between battle mode and pursuit mode can be cumbersome to begin with, but car handling isn't an issue since the Batmobile can squash most obstacles with minimum resistance.

    Batman also enjoys new abilities in regular hand-to-hand combat. After a suit upgrade, Batman can perform a "Multi-Fear Takedown", which allows him to instantly knock out up to 5 enemies in slow-motion. You can only initiate a Fear Takedown after performing a Silent Takedown by sneaking up on enemies during stealth 'Predator' mission sequences. The Fear Takedown effect is cool but doesn't really add anything game-changing in combat. Accompanying Fear Takedowns, players can initiate new Dual Takedowns after building up a meter during fight scenes with a partner AI character. Pressing LB will initiate a tag-team knock-out with characters like Catwoman and Nightwing. Again, the effect is fun but limited to a few scenes only, which might come across as disappointing.

    As someone who's played through Arkham City and Arkham Asylum, I found the sheer amount of new hazards and abilities in combat to be a tad overwhelming - but again, that would be overcome with practice. Knowing which ability to use when, where and how really stretches your reflexes, particularly if you're trying to be more stylish (and thus, earn higher EXP) in battles. Despite lacking any semblance of grace and timing, the only instances I found myself dying in Batman: Arkham Knight's normal difficulty were the results of rushing. Arkham games reward finesse and methodology, and Arkham Knight takes this to all new heights.

    Thus far I haven't had much negative to say about Batman: Arkham Knight, but I feel as though the game is let down by its mission system. Throughout, you follow Scarecrow on the main mission, dotted with the opportunity to chase other super-villains on the side. The main story campaign is gripping, but the same cannot be said about the game's poorly implemented side-missions.

    The way Arkham Knight makes you face repetitive challenges before getting there just feels like play time padding.

    Upgrading your gadgets, combat abilities, Batsuit and Batmobile requires a metric ton of upgrade points. You can accumulate some of these by 'leveling up' after gathering EXP during regular combat. The more stylish you are, and the fewer mistakes you make, all go towards improving your combat rating, thus awarding more EXP. Grinding EXP this way takes far too long. Instead, Arkham Knight incentivises you to undertake its side-missions - each awarding you up to two upgrade points per quest, and then more for completing the quest chain. The problem is, these missions are almost always repetitive.

    Holding right on the d-pad brings up the mission select radial menu. Some of these are standard "defeat 10 of x" quests (which I abhor), but thankfully they can be skipped unless you're achievement hunting. If you want to come to blows with Riddler, Two-Face, Penguin or any of the game's other major villains, Arkham Knight forces you to jump through a copy and pasted series of hoops (Catwoman's words) masquerading as gameplay. It's made worse by the fact that it tells you how many times you have to jump through these hoops before capturing the villain.

    Prevent 3 bank heists to see Two-Face, follow 4 trucks to see Penguin, chase Firefly 3 times to capture him - the visible quota to achieve these goals slaps you out of the fantasy of being Batman, and lets down what is otherwise an amazing game. It's a shame because the conclusions of these needlessly time-devouring side-quests can be interesting. The way Arkham Knight forces you to face repetitive plot-absent challenges before finding those conclusions just feels like play time padding. Those of you who enjoy collect-a-thons will feel right at home. This is particularly true if you want to capture The Riddler, who will only face you if you solve every single Arkham Knight riddle.

    I would have preferred it if Rocksteady had focussed less on the Assassin's Creed-style of open-world, providing it meant we could have more themed areas or events. Although, the main story quest is so good that the occasional sense of grinding is almost worth it.

    Conclusion

    A satisfying end to an amazing trilogy

    The Arkham Knight is a worthy ending to Rocksteady's Arkham trilogy. Arkham Knight represents the potential hidden within our favorite franchises to become video game classics, instead of shallow Hollywood cash-ins.

    On Xbox One, every aspect of Batman: Arkham Knight glistens with polish. It features a painstakingly detailed overworld, complimented with awesome special effects, rock-solid combat, and a truly tense story.

    Pros:

    • Challenging and rewarding gameplay
    • Gorgeous and grim comic book designs
    • Mature plot laden with mystery

    Cons:

    • Side missions are repetitive at best, boring at worst

    While I felt like Batman: Arkham Knight was let down by its mission structure, the main story makes up for it. The bump to an 18-rating allowed Rocksteady to examine some of Batman's darker stories, and they fit right in with the world they've created. I hope that the next time Activision sit down and try to produce a game based on the Marvel Universe, they look at the success of the Arkham series and take note.

    Superhero games have rarely been taken seriously over the years, and Batman: Arkham Knight and its predecessors prove that it's possible to build convincing video games based on existing IP. Cheers, Rocksteady.

    Batman: Arkham Knight is available now on Xbox One, PS4 and is 'coming soon' to PC.

    Buy Batman: Arkham Knight on Amazon UK

    Buy Batman: Arkham Knight on Amazon US

    Buy Batman: Arkham Knight on the Xbox Store


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    Ant-Man Pinball

    Zen Studios has unveiled the next cabinet for the company's array of Pinball titles. The new add-on for the titles will be themed around the new Marvel Ant-Man movie. Zen Pinball 2, Pinball FX2 and Marvel Pinball across various platforms will receive the new cabinet, which is set to be released on July 14.

    The cabinet enables players to battle Yellowjacket in pinball combat, interacting with the various elements that make up the overall design. Platforms receiving the new Ant-Man cabinet include the PS4, PS3, Vita, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC, Mac, iOS, and Android. As noted above, the cabinet update will be made available on July 14.

    Source: Eurogamer


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    Xbox

    The entire Xbox brand might have ended several years ago if Microsoft's now former CEO Steve Ballmer had not made the decision to spend over $1 billion to deal with the "Red Ring of Death" crisis that hit the Xbox 360 in 2007. That's the word from former Xbox executive Peter Moore in a recent podcast interview that centered on Microsoft's game consoles.

    Moore, who currently works as a top executive at Electronic Arts, stated in IGN's latest Podcast Unlocked episode that Microsoft was seeing very high hardware failure rates on the Xbox 360 after its launch. He said that the situation was so bad, he felt he had to schedule a meeting with Ballmer and then Xbox head Robbie Bach to let them know how much money it would take to fix things:

    I calculated with my finance team, Dennis Durkin (now the Chief Financial Officer of Activision), Doug Ralphs (then Senior Director of Finance at Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Division)... $1.15bn, right out there. I always remember $240m of that was FedEx. Their stock must have gone through the roof for the next two weeks."

    Moore brought that information to Ballmer at that meeting:

    "He said, 'what's it going to cost?' I remember taking a deep breath, looking at Robbie, and saying, 'we think it's $1.15bn, Steve.' He said, 'do it.' There was no hesitation."

    Moore said that Ballmer's decision not only saved the Xbox 360 but the entire Xbox brand:

    "It was that moment of decision that Steve Ballmer made, that I will never forget. He didn't even think twice about spending $1.15bn to protect a brand that's probably worth three or four times that today. Xbox One wouldn't have happened."

    Source: IGN; Via: Eurogamer


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    Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 Zombies

    Call of Duty: Black Ops III will be the latest game in Activision's first person shooter series to have some kind of zombie gameplay mode. More details about that mode will be revealed next week at San Diego Comic-Con, which will reveal the mode's 'star-studded cast'.

    If you are going to the sold-out Comic-Con, the Zombies panel itself will be held on July 9 at 1 p.m. Pacific time at the San Diego Convention Center in Room 6BCF. Activision says:

    "On July 9, Treyarch will reveal the much-anticipated mode in a panel featuring the studio's Zombies Director, Jason Blundell, and Lead Writer, Craig Houston. Attendees will also be treated with a first look at the Zombies reveal trailer, the mode's star-studded cast, and the official announcement of the Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 Collector's Editions. Fans in the audience will also have and a chance to receive limited edition Zombies memorabilia, available exclusively at Comic-Con."

    "In addition to the panel on Thursday afternoon, anyone in the San Diego area will get a real life taste of the Black Ops Zombies experience in the Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 Escape Room Challenge. Open to both the public and Comic-Con attendees, the Escape Room Challenge tasks groups of survivors with solving a series of puzzles in order to escape a locked room before time runs out."

    Call of Duty: Black Ops III will be released on November 6 for the Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 and PC platforms.

    Source: Activision


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    Alongside debuting the first trailer for Minecraft: Story Mode, Mojang has also used its Minecon 2015 showcase in London to detail what the game is actually all about. And it's certainly a half Minecraft, half Telltale sort of experience.

    The game will be coming to Xbox One, Xbox 360 and PC alongside iOS, Android, Mac, PS3 and PS4 later this year. In true Telltale Games style, it'll be a story driven experience delivered over a series of "episodes."

    "Minecraft: Story Mode is an adventure game, by Telltale Games, set in a Minecraft world. It is a five-part episodic series that will take you to the Nether, the Farlands, the End, and beyond! You will drive how the story flows through the decisions you make: what you say to people (and how you say it), and what you choose to do in moments of thrilling action.

    Players will control protagonist Jesse throughout the season, as portrayed by actor Patton Oswalt. Jesse and his group of friends revere the legendary Order of the Stone; four adventurers who slayed an Ender Dragon. The Order is the very best at what they do: Warrior, Redstone Engineer, Griefer, and Architect. While at EnderCon, Jesse and his friends discover that something is wrong... something dreadful. Terror is unleashed, and they must set out on a journey to find The Order of the Stone if they are to save their world from oblivion."

    There's no set release date for it yet, but you'll find the new trailer up top.

    Source: Telltale Games


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    Trials Fusion is a pretty fun game for the Xbox One, Xbox 360 and PC that lets you go wild on a motorcycle and take on ever increasingly difficult obstacles. Ubisoft has a new DLC package coming on July 14 called "Awesome Level Max" and it lets you play as a Cat riding a Unicorn.

    Pretty awesome.

    Check it out in the trailer up top. It's not the Ninja Cat on a Unicorn, but it's as close as we'll get for now. The DLC will also be available to PS4 owners and will showcase new challenges and the best community made maps.

    via Gamespot

    Thanks Spiritus for the tip!


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    Sports, fantasy, and strategy will collide this September in Blood Bowl II for Xbox One and Windows

    Anyone who played games during the 16-bit era probably remembers a classic EA Sports title called Mutant League Football. That game drew inspiration from real-life board game Blood Bowl, which depicts a very football-like sport played by human and fantasy races. Blood Bowl takes place in a cartoonish version of the Warhammer fantasy universe.

    French developer Cyanide Studio's first Blood Bowl video game won a sizable cult following a few years back. This September, Cyanide and Focus Home Interactive will follow-up with Blood Bowl II for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Windows. The new game promises a lengthy campaign, robust online multiplayer leagues, a spectator mode, and plenty of violent turn-based strategic gameplay.

    We went through a game of Blood Bowl II at E3 2015 and came away impressed. Read on for our in-depth preview with developer interview and gameplay video!

    Preparing for the Blood Bowl

    Blood Bowl II gives players eight fantasy race-based teams to choose from, each with its own difficulty rating. These include Humans, Orcs, Dwarfs, Skaven, Dark Elves, Chaos, Brettonia, and High Elves.

    After selecting a team, you'll choose from five stadiums for the team to call home. These can be leveled up and improved with the gold earned from matches. The upgrades can actually affect gameplay. For instance, beer stalls can cause the crowd to become unruly and throw things at sidelined players.

    Having chosen your home stadium, you'll then opt between automatically or manually selecting a team roster. Blood Bowl teams have five positions and can consist of up to 16 players in total. You can name players, choose between several heads for them, and select your team colors and logo.

    New players cost varying amounts of gold to recruit, depending on their abilities. Each player has three basic stats: Movement allowance, Strength, and Agility. He also has a unique combination of skills that will affect his performance on the field.

    With a team locked down, the final step before playing is to recruit staff members. You can hire five types of staff, including Apocetharies (medics), Cheerleaders, and Assistant Coaches. All provide their own distinct benefits to your team. Staff members cost gold too, of course.

    Blood Bowl II

    Strategy on the field

    Blood Bowl games start with a coin toss. The winner chooses whether to kick the ball (play defense) or receive the ball (play offense). Before the kickoff, the teams go through a setup phase. Here you can place all players automatically or manually position them one at a time.

    After the defending team aims and kicks the ball, one of eleven kick-off events will randomly occur. These can influence either team, making the match harder or easier for them. The staff members you have hired will affect the likelihood of certain events helping your team instead of hurting it.

    Like American football, the goal in Blood Bowl is to run the ball into the end zone of the opposing team in order to score. But unlike traditional football video games, Blood Bowl II plays like a turn-based strategy game. Every action has a chance to succeed or fail – even picking up the ball. During my play session, the members of our high-difficulty dwarf team all stank at picking the ball up. A team with an easier difficulty rating and/or better players would fare much better.

    Blood Bowl II

    Failing an action makes your team's turn end, so it's wise to perform easy actions first and save harder ones for later in your turn. Each player on the field can perform one action per turn, such as dashing into an enemy player to deliver an attack.

    After choosing to attack an enemy player, the game rolls a special pair of dice to determine the outcome of the attack. If successful, the attacker can choose which direction to knock the target as well as whether to follow the target forward or remain in place. The camera zooms in for a dramatic view of the attacks and tackles, which look brutal.

    After taking a hit, players can be stunned, injured (thus having to sit the game out), or even permanently killed. The team owner will then need to hire a new player after a game. Thus, the owners will want to manage the risk they put their players in and try to prevent them from dying.

    You can also choose to hit a stunned player while he is down, which increases his chances of injury or death. But if the referee sees the illegal move, you'll have to either bribe him or allow the player to be ejected. You can also bribe the ref to allow a player back into the game after he has been sent off. Bribes don't always work, though; some of these refs have wills of iron.

    Blood Bowl II

    Campaign

    The Blood Bowl II campaign will last around 20 hours, giving solo players plenty of strategic sports challenge. It features a story written by Andy Hall, who actually used to work on the physical Blood Bowl game at Games Workshop. Yes, the campaign has a real story unlike what you'd see in other sports games. You'll play as a particular team, the iconic Reikland Reavers.

    One of the ways Blood Bowl II's campaign differs from regular matches is its unique kick-off events. Six all-new events will add dramatic impact during specific campaign matches (and only those matches). These have a greater influence on the match, sometimes changing the field itself and creating areas that will damage the players.

    For example, the 'Cabal Copter's Crash' event starts out with the Cabal Vision camera flying over the field and then suffering a crash. The impact creates a hole surrounded by flaming wreckage. Both teams will have to maneuver around the flames, as touching or getting knocked into it will not feel good.

    Blood Bowl II

    More modes

    In addition to the campaign, Blood Bowl II will offer a deep multiplayer experience and some choice spectator features. The main menu offers the following modes:

    • Play in a League: The primary multiplayer mode in Blood Bowl II. League Mode is persistent, with players and teams gaining experience and leveling up as they play. Those players can age and retire, or worse – get killed permanently.
    • Friendly Match: Play friendly matches against another human or AI opponent, either offline or online.
    • Team & League Management: Create and customize your own teams, just as we described earlier.
    • Cabal TV: Watch your previous matches for fun or to learn more about the strategies you and your opponents have used. Cabal TV also allows spectating of other gamers' live matches. It doesn't just stream those games; spectators can access tactical information as if they were actually participating in the match.

    Blood Bowl II E3 2015 photo

    Get ready to rumble

    Sports-themed strategy games are nearly as uncommon as unicorns, so Blood Bowl II should be like no console sports game before it. I loved what I experienced at E3, but it remains to be seen how intuitive the game really is when you don't have a developer showing you the ropes.

    We'll find out whether Blood Bowl II scores the touchdown when it arrives on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Windows on September 22.

    Preorder Blood Bowl II for Xbox One at Amazon ($49.99)Amazon UK (£30.99)


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    Welcome to our weekly ICYMI for Xbox news!

    This week, we're looking at the Xbox 360's "billion dollar problem", Xbox One's European struggle, MGSV with Kiefer Sutherland and more!

    We'll still be posting major Xbox announcements in the main feed, but I'll be collecting some of the more nuanced news, rumours and talking points into one handy post every weekend!

    So without further ado, here's our latest edition of This Week in Xbox One News.

    Former Microsoft VP Peter Moore discusses the infamous 'Red Ring of Death' in new podcast

    The now-infamous red lights that informed you that your Xbox 360 had melted internally cost Microsoft over a billion dollars, according to former Microsoft executive Peter Moore.

    Talking on Podcast Unlocked, Moore described the overheating problems as "sickening", and recalled having to relay the bad news to former Xbox head, Robbie Bach.

    ..."It was sickening. I took a lot of the abuse because I was the face of it. It was ultimately on me. But this was a thing that we actually couldn't figure out what was going on."

    "As we started to do the analysis of what was going on, we were getting the defectives in. It was a challenging problem for our engineers. We couldn't quite figure out what it was, we knew it was heat related..."...

    Moore went on to describe his encounter with Steve Ballmer, the former CEO of Microsoft. Moore drew up a plan to spend over a billion dollars to allow Xbox fans to FedEx their consoles to Microsoft for repairs. Ballmer reportedly agreed to the decision with 'no hesitation', following up with the statement that Xbox fans can thank Steve Ballmer for the continued existence of the brand. Thank you, Steve Ballmer. Do you remember when your Xbox 360 RRoD'd? Hit the comments!

    Be sure to check out the full podcast here.

    Xboss Phil Spencer laments Xbox One's position in Europe

    Phil Spencer has acknowledged that the Xbox One needs to do better in Europe in an interview with EDGE magazine. The PS4 has enjoyed a solid lead in most territories thus far but has a particular advantage in Europe. The Xbox One launched far later than PS4 in various European territories to localize Kinect for Europe's diverse array of languages.

    ..."We need to do better in Europe. "When I look globally, mainland Europe is definitely an area we want to focus on,"....

    Spencer is optimistic though, citing Germany's upcoming Gamescom convention as a launching pad for the European offensive.

    ..."I'm excited about going to Gamescom at the beginning of August, having another press show where we're able to show games that we didn't show [at E3]. So you're going to see brand new games, as well as obviously some repeats, but you're going to see Scalebound, Crackdown, Quantum Break from my friends at Remedy. From a product standpoint, I like where we are. I think the team's doing a great job with the games and building a platform for gamers."...

    I think even the most rabid Xbox hater would have a hard time suggesting Microsoft were doing a bad job with the Xbox One. Microsoft are spending ridiculous amounts on exclusives, huge Xbox feature updates and benefits for Xbox Live Gold members - but if all your friends have a PS4, it remains a hard sell. What do you think would help Xbox One make up for lost ground? Hit the comments!

    Troy Baker asks Metal Gear fans to reserve judgement of Kiefer Sutherland

    Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain kicks off the Autumn/Winter game rush on September 1st, but the path to the finish line has been marred by controversy. There are reports that Konami will fire MGS godfather Hideo Kojima once the game is shipped, also to reports that Konami are making life hard for the staff at Kojima Productions. Early on though, many fans were peeved at the announcement long-time Snake voice actor David Hayter had been ditched in favour of Kiefer Sutherland.

    Troy Baker has come out in support of Kiefer Sutherland, asking fans to reserve judgement until after they've played the game (via VG247).

    ..."I love David Hayter, I love David, he's a good dude and he's Snake, but so is Kiefer. And that guy showed up, rolled up his sleeves and got dirty on this game. So reserve judgement until you play it. You only have like two more months left and trust me it'll be worth it."...

    Troy Baker is the [veteran voice actor]*https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troy_Baker#Video_games) lending his talents to Revolver Ocelot in the upcoming Metal Gear Solid V. There are plenty of people out there (myself included) who think the omission of David Hayter as Solid Snake is just another of Kojima's bait-and-switch marketing tactics. If The Phantom Pain were to pick up a sequel, it could retell the story of 1987's Metal Gear on the MSX2 - bringing Solid Snake and Big Boss (Naked Snake) face-to-face. Hayter vs. Sutherland.

    Sadly given Konami's treatment of Kojima Productions, we may never know if it was Hideo's intention to round-off the series in this way.

    Mass Effect: Andromeda might have a 'happier ending' than Mass Effect 3

    Mass Effect 3's ending was, well, divisive, shall we say. The controversy is one of the more memorable drama-bombs of the last generation, with fans feeling that it ended far too abruptly. The backlash was so severe, Bioware issued a DLC to pad the ending and provide the trilogy with a more comforting send-off.

    An inquiring Mass Effect fan pinged Mass Effect: Andromeda dev Chris Wynn, asking if the newest game would receive a "happier ending". Wynn replied, "we will do what we can!" - so fans still soured by the events of Mass Effect 3 can probably rest assured that Bioware have heard the feedback.

    ICYMI - Some of Windows Central's biggest Xbox articles of the week

    New Xbox One game releases for the week ending July 5th, 2015

    Scrabble - Card & Board - Ubisoft

    "Enjoy the classic word spelling game with your friends either locally or online, and add computer opponents of varying difficulties to make things interesting!"

    Quiplash - Family, Puzzle & Trivia, Social - Jackbox Games

    "For 3-8 Players and an Audience of thousands! The team behind the hit party games YOU DON'T KNOW JACK, Fibbage, and Drawful presents Quiplash, the laugh-a-minute battle of wits and wittiness!"

    BLAZBLUE CHRONOPHANTASMA EXTEND - Action & Adventure, Fighting - Aksys Games

    "The most definitive installment of the renowned 2D fighting game franchise, BlazBlue, can finally be taken into your living room. Uncover the secrets, of the Chrono Phantasma Extend."

    And that's a wrap!

    I'm close to the end of The Witcher 3; I'm not sure what to play next. Rare Replay comes out at the start of next month, followed by Dishonored Definitive Edition, Gears of War Ultimate Edition and Metal Gear Solid V towards the start of September. What will you guys be playing before the holiday rush? Hit the comments!


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    Xbox

    Microsoft's Ultimate Xbox Sale was supposed to begin on July 7, but it appears a number of Xbox One games are already discounted for paid Xbox Live Gold members. The list below shows the US sales prices for the games, but your region will likely have different prices.

    Xbox One:

    We will post up word on the rest of the Xbox One and Xbox 360 games that have price cuts when the Ultimate Xbox Sale officially begins.

    Source: Hotukdeals.com


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    EA Access at E3

    Microsoft is offering gamers in the UK an added incentive for purchasing a new Xbox One console. The country's Microsoft Store site is now offer 12 free months of EA Access with the purchase of the Xbox One in most of its bundle packages.

    EA Access is the Xbox One-exclusive subscription service from Electronic Arts that offers users a library of older games they can play for as much as they want until their subscrption expires. Currently, EA Access has 12 games in its Vault, including the most recent game, Titanfall, and more games will be added in the coming months, including Dragon Age: Inqusition. EA Access also offers users a 10 percent discount on purchasing EA digital games on the Xbox One, along with exclusive trial versions of upcoming games.

    The special deal on the Microsoft Store UK site applies to nearly all of the Xbox One consoles, with the exception of the Xbox One bundled with The Witcher 3 game. There's no word yet on when this special offer will expire, but people who who get the Xbox One with the 12 months of EA Access will have to renew their subscription manually after it expires; it will not auto-renew.

    Check out the Xbox One consoles on the UK Microsoft Store

    Via: Neowin


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    Fans of Mortal Kombat X will soon be able to play another movie-based character. A few weeks after Jason Voorhees, the slasher character from the Friday The 13th films, was added, the Predator will be included in the game's fighter lineup starting on Tuesday, July 7 for people who have paid for the Kombat Pack.

    Yes, that means you will be able to control the mandible-based alien who loves to kill for sport, with a variety of gadgets perfect for cutting open bodies or perhaps ripping out their spinal columns. In addition to the character itself, three new character skins will be released: Commando Johnny, Infrared Scorpion and Jax made up to look like Carl Weathers's Dillon character from the first Predator film.

    If you have not purchased the Kombat Pack, the Predator character will go on sale on its own for $4.99 on July 11, with the three character skins sold for $3.99, or you can get both Predator and character skins for $7.99. Mortal Kombat X is currently on sale for $44.99 on the Xbox One for people who have paid Xbox Live Gold subscriptions.

    Source: Mortal Kombat (YouTube)


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    Xbox One's backwards compatibility is still in its infancy, but it looks as though devs are already jumping on board.

    Earlier today, racing game aficionados Criterion Games tweeted that they're in talks with Microsoft to bring the Xbox 360 version of Burnout Paradise to the Xbox One.

    "...Yes, we ARE talking to Microsoft about making XBox 360 Burnout Paradise available on XBox One via backwards-compatibility! More news soon!..."

    Burnout Paradise is an open-world arcade-style racer set in the fictional Paradise City. The game won generally positive reviews, sitting pretty at 88% on Metacritic. The tweet has garnered a fairly large positive response, and will hopefully set a precedent for other devs to bring their back-catalogues to the Xbox One.

    Microsoft announced backwards compatibility at E3 2015 to a roaring fanfare. The line-up on offer to dashboard preview members is quite slim for the moment, but Microsoft expects to have hundreds of titles available for its general launch later in the year.

    You can throw in your requests for backwards compatible games here. Red Dead Redemption, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 and Skyrim are currently leading the vote - though, whether these games actually become reverse compatible depends on their publishers.

    What games would you like to see hit Xbox One's backwards compatibility? Let us know below!


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    Xbox

    Microsoft's Ultimate Xbox Sale is now live. With over 100 titles discounted for the Xbox One and the Xbox 360, there's never a better time to pick up new games for either console.

    Xbox One:

    Xbox 360:

    What games are you guys picking up?

    Source: Major Nelson