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E3 2019 – HALO Infinite

Halo Infinite has been officially been revealed as the first game associated with Xbox’s next generation console, currently code named Project Scarlett.  This is huge news as this is the first time since the original Xbox console that a Halo title has accompanied the launch of a new console. The trailer provided at the Xbox E3 2019 Media Briefing did not include much in the way of details but instead was a way of introducing back to a newly remastered and super detailed Master Chief, who is found floating in space.

The developers have already confirmed that this will be a great opportunity for new players to get into the Halo franchise.  They intend to give call backs to the previous games and lore but provide a fresh experience and story to new players. Already, die hard Halo fans have been picking it apart the trailer frame by frame to see what can be gleaned from it, including some of those aforementioned callbacks.  There are plenty of theories and conjecture about what we are actually seeing and what it means and when the game takes place in the overall timeline, but at this point that is all they are. Obviously there will be much more to come with this over the next year. I would expect that come the Xbox E3 2020 Media Briefing we will see much more as Project Scarlett is finalized and they are able to actually product game play content.

Xbox has the opportunity to take full control of the proverbial hype machine by linking these two releases together and fully leveraging the capabilities of their new console.  They have the attention of their legions of rabid fans and I expect that to be cultivated over the next twelve months till E3 2020. Please be sure to keep an eye out here for updates and additional information as the Engaged Family Gaming team scours the multiverse for more information.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

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E3 2019 – LEGO Games at E3 This Year!

This weekend Microsoft had their Xbox E3 2019 Media Briefinghttp://engagedfamilygaming.com/videogames/5-things-parents-need-to-know-from-the-xbox-e3-2019-media-briefing/ and we had two Bricktastic announcements that raced into our hearts!

To our surprise Microsoft announced some AWESOME DLC for Forza Horizon 4 involving LEGO Speed Champions! LEGO Speed Champions is LEGO’s line of model kits based on real life cars like the McLaren Senna model. (They actually had a full size LEGO car on stage!)

The DLC pack features a new area that mixes real cars rendered with realistic textures and cars constructed from virtual LEGO. The racers even drove past iconic LEGO Expert sets and then onto realistic scenes. I am not into racing games normally, but this is a day one purchase and even convinced me to sign up for Xbox Game Pass. The DLC comes to Forze Horizons 4 on June 13th and will be sold at a discount with Game Pass

Changing gears..

Not so long time ago in a galaxy not so far away Xbox gave us hope by announcing LEGO The Star Wars The Skywalker Saga! It’s a new LEGO game that features levels from all nine of the movies including Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. The trailer shows that they’ll be going back to the silent comedy we enjoyed from some of the first games in the series. We are most excited to see what scenes from all of our favorite movies make their way into the game even making light of the most iconic scene of Empire Strikes back and blended into a very cute Darth Vader Snowman and then Kylo Ren and Rey show us some action.

LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga will be out next year in PC, Xbox One, PS4 and Switch.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

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spiritfarer logo

So there I was, watching the Xbox E3 2019 Media Briefing, and my eyeballs and emotions were being bombarded by images and video clips of some of my most anticipated titles (Jedi: Fallen Order, anyone?), and then in the ID@Xbox segment, where they feature indie titles, a rather unique game came across the screen.  Spiritfarer.

Spiritfarer comes to us from Thunder Lotus Games, the makers of Sundered and Jøtun.  Their games have always been dripping with personality and style, so I was immediately intrigued.  

According to their press release:

“In Spiritfarer, you play Stella, a ferrymaster to the deceased.  Build a boat to explore the world, then befriend and care for spirits before finally releasing them into the afterlife.  Farm, mine, fish, harvest, cook, and craft your way across mystical seas. Join the adventure as Daffodil the cat, in two-player cooperative play.  Spend relaxing quality time with your spirit passengers, create lasting memories, and ultimately, learn how to say goodbye to your cherished friends.”

So, I didn’t expect to be as hyped as I am for this.   Spiritfarer has a unique and endearing art style, and what sounds to be a ton of fun, stress free content.  The whole game seems to be focused around building, crafting and relationships. However, those relationships are made to ultimately be broken, and in a game like this I am sure I will grow to love the characters, and that will lead to powerful, emotional moments when I have to “learn how to say goodbye” to those characters, as the developer puts it.  

I truly cannot wait… and I think we’re in for something special when this comes to Xbox Game Pass for PC and Console, Xbox One, Windows PC, PS4, and Nintendo Switch.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

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ori and the will of the wisps

The highly anticipated sequel to Ori and the Blind Forest has finally gotten its release date. Players will now be able to get a look at Ori’s world outside of Nibel. Fans will be treated to everything that they loved from the original, smooth gameplay, stunning visuals and wonderful story telling when it releases on February 11th, 2020.

Just like in the original, you will need to explore and navigate through various puzzles while traveling through the environment and competing against huge and quite frankly very gorgeously rendered bosses.  

The difference this time is that the worlds appear to be much more varied as the intent of the sequel is to expand outside the world we had been introduced to. The preview that premiered during the Xbox E3 2019 Media Briefing on 6/9 gave a glimpse of some of this with a giant spider battle, tentacle monster and what appears to be some sort of lava spitting sand worm.  All of it was gorgeous and the gameplay interaction looks as though it could be just as challenging as the original (tree fight anyone?). So prepare to have your heartstrings tugged, your mind blown and find a way to ice down your thumbs at the end of the day.

The current information that we have tells us that “Ori and the Will of the Wisps” will only be available on Xbox, Windows PC and Steam.  However, it would not be outside the realm of possibility that this could eventually make its way to the Switch at some point in the future as we see more and more cross play.

Please be sure to check out all our E3 coverage as we will update you if and when we find out anything new.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

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Project scarlett

By: James Pisano

So it finally happened.  Microsoft announced their next console during the Xbox E3 2019 Media Briefing.  For now, however, we only know it as Project Scarlett.  Phil Spencer did let us know what we can expect from the upcoming Xbox hardware on a technical level though.

Under the Hood

It’ll have an AMD chipset, with their new Navi graphics architecture and a Zen 2 CPU.  They promised to reduce or eliminate(?) load times, and it will contain a new generation of solid state hard drive, also acting as virtual ram, so this actually is possible.  Microsoft says will lead to a 40x improvement in load times over previous consoles, but that remains to be seen.

Overall, they said Project Scarlett would perform 4x faster than their most powerful current console, the Xbox One X.  They said we would see resolutions and framerates we have never seen before on consoles.

8k resolution, 120 frames per second were quoted, and those are certainly the best we’ve seen in the console market to date.  And we got a quick mention that it will be backwards compatibile across all current xbox consoles.

What Does it Mean Though?

It’s a lot of tech speak, and enough to make most parents’ heads spin. That’s why we’re here to explain what this all means to you. (We also have a list of tech definitions here.)

With a more powerful graphics chip and processor will allow the console to display the beautiful visuals that were promised.  That said, most of our current televisions will look beautiful. But, it sounds like this new console will be and to display resolutions up to 8k. That would be stunning… but impossible on our current televisions. As of the time of this writing, the cheapest 8k television is approximately $4,000. That price will almost certainly come way down by the time the console releases however.  

The solid state hard drive is going to be used to facilitate shorter load times which more engagement, and happier players.

They also shared that Project Scarlett would have total backwards compatability. That means that all the Xbox games you’ve bought so far will not be obsolete as they will play on the new console.

We’re excited for Project Scarlett, and we think you should be too.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

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E3 2019 – Battletoads

They’re BAAAACK! After years of teasers, hints and very little detail, Xbox finally released the first gameplay for the Battletoads remake since they showed us only the logo last year at E3.  That’s right, everyone’s favorite Ninja Turtle knock offs, Pimple, Rash and Zitz are back after 25 years. The EFG team could not be more hyped. Based on the trailer that was released at the Xbox E3 2019 Media Briefing.

The animation and gameplay appears to have plenty of callbacks to the originals. It also has a hand drawn style that reminds us a lot of Earthworm Jim (1994). This will be the three player couch co-op, side scroller that the world needed. There will be plenty of crazy physical comedy and smashing of enemies into a gooey pulp with giant fists, laser eyes and tongue gags.

The trailer also revealed that there will also feature the dreaded jet-ski level… (pause to allow the shaking to stop).  We’re hoping that they will tone down the difficulty so that the average gamer can complete it. Xbox did confirm that one boss from the original, Porkshank, will be front and center and it appears they will most likely bring back other familiar faces.

Quite frankly, the only thing missing from this trailer was a release date in either hard copy or on Xbox Game Pass.  Unfortunately, we are left more excited than ever but ultimately still waiting to find out when we will actually get our hands on it, which is the same place we were last year at this time.

Please be sure to check out all our E3 coverage as we will update you if and when we find out anything new.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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5 Things Parents Need to Know from the Xbox E3 2019 Media Briefing!
Check out their media briefing on our YouTube Channel!!

Microsoft held their annual Xbox E3 Media Briefing on Sunday June 9th, 2019. The event was an hour and a half long and was widely expected to be a showcase for the next generation of Xbox consoles and to build excited for the brand going into 2020. It fell a little flat in those regards, but there was still plenty of news for parents.

New Xbox is Coming!

Xbox closed their show by sharing some high level details of the next generation Xbox, codenamed Project Scarlett. They stopped short of revealing the official name, the final release date, or the price, but they did share some information about the technical specifications.

Their main focus appeared to be explaining their design philosophies. They explained that they expect the new system to be a significant leap in power over the Xbox One X. They also explained that they will be using a custom SSD (Solid State Drive) that will greatly reduce loading times.

They also revealed that they will be launching the new Xbox alongside HALO Infinite. This will mark the first time that an Xbox has launched with a HALO game since the original Xbox in November 15, 2001.

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate

Xbox Game Pass has been a wild success since it was announced last year. There are now over 250 games available on the service. It was only a matter of time, however, before Microsoft expanded on the service. That expansion is now underway.

First, they announced Xbox Game pass for PC. It’s similar to its counterpart on consoles, but it is focused on PC games. It is in Beta now with a special price of $4.99 (The price will increase to $9.99 when the beta ends).

Second, they announced Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, subscription that combines Xbox Game Pass, Xbox Game Pass for PC, and Xbox Games with Gold for $14.99 per month.

Minecraft Dungeons

Minecraft is one of the biggest games on the planet. It is also, largely, impossible to follow up with a sequel.

Microsoft did, however, announce a spin-off title called Minecraft Dungeons last year. It was fully unveiled at this year’s E3 media briefing. Dungeons is a kid friendly take on a Diablo-esque dungeon crawling action game. It will be coming to Xbox (among other consoles and PC) in Spring 2020.

LEGO in Full Force (Or Full For..za?)

LEGO games were well represented during this year’s briefing. They announced LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga and a LEGO Speed Champions expansion to Forza Horizon’s 4.

RPG Time – The Legend of Wright

Xbox spent one minute and thirteen seconds showing us that Nintendo did not have an iron grip on the arts and crafts art style they used on Yoshi and Kirby. The Legend of Wright uses the same console that makes cars in Forza: Horizon 4 come to life, and uses it to animate the pencil sketches of every kid who grew up in the 90’s. We will be keeping an eye on more information as this game gets closer to its 2020 release.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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All-New Battletoads Coming to Xbox One X in 2019

By: Drew Habersang

One of the biggest surprises on Monday was the announcement of an all-new Battletoads, the legendary borderline impossibly difficult side-scroller. Microsoft announced the game Monday at its E3 2018 media briefing, stating that Battletoads will return in 2019 with “body-morphing genre mashups, three-player couch co-op, 4K hand-drawn 2.5D graphics, and broad non-specific feature declarations”.

While not specifically detailed in the announcement, all indications are that Battletoads will be a completely new game, rather than a port of the original first game. Battletoads was last brought to the Xbox One in 2014 as part of the 30-game Rare Replay Anthology.

Originally released June 1, 1991 by Rare (a studio owned by Microsoft since 2003) for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), Battletoads has long been recognized as one of the most difficult games in existence. No doubt, this new iteration of Battletoads will be equally as challenging.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

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E3 2018 Microsoft Media Briefing

Microsoft held their E3 2018 Media Briefing on Sunday June 10th at 1pm PST.

Halo Infinite 
Ori and the Will of the Wisp
Shadows Strike Twice
Fallout 76
The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit 
Crackdown 3
Nier: Automata (GOY)
Metro:Exodus 
Kingdom Hearts 3
Sea of Thieves: Forsaken Shore
Battlefield 5 
Forza Horizon 4
We Happy Few 
PUBG: War Mode
Tales of Versperia: Definative Edition 
The Division: 2 
Shadow of the Tomb Raider 
Session
Black Desert
Devil May Cry 5 
Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course 
Tunic 
Jump Force
Dying Light 2 
Battletoads 
Just Cause 4 
Gears of War Pop 
Gears of War 5 
Gear Tactics
Cyberpunk 2077 

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

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Xbox Adaptive Controller Will Make Our Digital World More Accessible

There is a saying that says if you know one person with a disability, then you know exactly one person with a disability. Each person’s needs are unique and this created a special challenge for engineers who are making adaptive equipment to help them overcome challenges and participate in activities that many of us take for granted. The video game space has been particularly challenging in that regard. No one really thinks about how complex the controls in our games have gotten over the years. The Xbox One controller, for example, has over 17 buttons spread out over its surface. Some of them being face buttons that are intended to be pressed using a thumb, while others are triggers that need to be pulled using a pointer finger. The input variety is a potential problem for folks who may lack the use of all of their digits. But the challenges go beyond that. Controllers are heavy so it can be incredibly challenging for some someone with weak arm muscles due to injury or a degenerative illness to hold them for long periods.

There are some groups that have sprung up to help overcome these challenges for some people. The Able Gamers is one such organization. They formed to help build custom solutions for gamers with disabilities and to advocate on behalf of them with game publishers and console manufacturers. Unfortunately, their reach is limited. Custom setups can be incredibly expensive and require complex technical skills to build and maintain. This prevents them from helping as many people as they would like to.

Microsoft has stepped up to the plate to give organizations like theirs a wonderful tool. They have officially announced the Xbox Adaptive Controller. It’s a remarkable device that will open up the wide world of video games to a population that has desperately wanted to play but has been held back by unwieldy controllers and hesitant manufacturers.

It was partially leaked a few days ahead of its official announcement and when I saw the images out of context I was very concerned. How useful could this device be? It was a white box with a D-pad and two giant buttons. I had no idea how it would be useful to people with disabilities. The official announcement clear all of that up for me. The Adaptive Controller is more of an adapter/hub for additional control devices than it is a standalone controller. The back of the device is a long line of jacks to attach different devices like buttons, pedals, joysticks, and all manner of other mechanisms. The idea is to facilitate whatever kinda of custom setup a disables gamer might need without having to manufacture something specifically for them.

We can’t forget that this controller is being manufactured by Microsoft. Say what you will about them, but they are experts at designing, manufacturing, and delivering high-quality consumer electronics at scale. I have a hard time believing that a small company with less leverage would be able to produce a piece of equipment like this and sell it for $99.99.

Microsoft wasn’t alone either. They worked with several other Third Party developers like Logitech and Quadstick.

This aligns perfectly with Microsofts Gaming For Everyone initiatives. Microsoft’s CEO Jenny Lay-Flurrie wrote a blog post to help announce the device. In it she wrote, “In the long term, we believe that designing with and for people with disabilities will lead to innovations in ubiquitous inclusive computing. In the short term, it’s about ensuring that accessibility is woven into the fabric of how we design and build. Accessibility isn’t optional.”

Accessibility. Isn’t. Optional.

These words should be a call to action to all hardware manufacturers to step their respective games up.

Its rather fitting that this was announced on Global Accessibility Awareness Day. This is a day that is intended to encourage everyone to think about how we can reach a future where people of all abilities are able to enjoy our increasingly digital world together. Microsoft took a big step today. Here’s hoping that others will follow them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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