Games Inbox: Is Microsoft in trouble with the Xbox Series X?

The Monday Inbox shares new game rituals past and present, as one reader sticks up for Wii Sports as one of the best launch games ever.

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No harm meant

The Inside Xbox stream last Thursday could of been a PR win if not falsely advertised as first look at next gen gameplay. Representative choreographed in-game engine cinematics could have anything from 100% to 10% of the DNA of the final product. As everything now has disclaimers no lies have been told but it harks back to greater disingenuous reveals like Watch Dogs, so leaves a nasty taste in the mouth.

Sold as a Nintendo-like Mini Direct for some third party games coming to Xbox, that will be optimised for Xbox Series X it would of been great. That first game, Bright Memories: Infinite, is a passion project by one guy, Microsoft did mention this in the stream, and it looked great. Create the narrative of how the next gen will give indie developers the tools to make their games look AAA, something indie developers have already commented on.

PC and next gen-only Xbox Series X (Microsoft, your Xbox nomenclature is a confusing mess) console exclusive The Medium’s developers told Eurogamer only next gen could deliver the vision for their game. Teasing it’s something related to gameplay, in how the two worlds interact with each other. That would of been interesting to see.

As it is, I don’t think Microsoft were trying to be duplicitous or the stream will prove to be that pernicious as it’s an early stop on a very long next gen hype train, just a bit clueless. The execs might all dress down now and bust out Twitch-like vernacular to appear to be like us, but this sort of thing reminds you they’re not.

Lesson learned
I have to say I completely disagree with the Reader’s Feature and inbox letters regarding the Xbox Series X 20/20 event. Granted, it was hyped up to be more than what it turned out to be but so was the Sony PlayStation 5 developers event and that didn’t generate anywhere near as much criticism.

At least with the Xbox event we got to see some IPs that hadn’t been shown off before and a fair few were on board with the Smart Delivery service which is promising. The Xbox team have acknowledged where they went wrong and will hopefully correct this in the next event.

Wii love it
I’d agree with the reader who voted Wii Sports as one of the best launch titles ever as it really sold the whole concept of the Wii to everyone, not just gamers. I remember my mum and dad telling me they wanted to buy a Wii without me even hinting I’d like one. It was a console they bought themselves that wasn’t just solely for me, which was absolutely amazing to me at the time as it meant I could get involved with all the other Wii games without having to ask for the console for Christmas or my birthday.

I do think however that Wii Sports is still loved by many people. As I have often heard people on social media and podcast yearning for it to be ported in some way to the Switch, whether that be a straight port or a new game called Switch Sports. So I’m not sure I’d agree with the reader when they said it was the most successful but least liked launch game ever.
Angry_Kurt (Twitter)
Now playing: Red Dead Redemption 2 (Xbox One X)

Test of patience
Having been playing Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare on and off since Christmas I’ve finally unlocked the completion camo Damascus. I’ve got to say it’s been very difficult, having played the old Modern Warfare series multiplayer which I loved. This one seems to be like a best of, with my favourite maps Rust, Backlot, Shipment, and Shoot House.

The shield challenge was the most frustrating, with three kills 25 times even on the small maps. This was crazy, two kills then my own team takes me out about 100 times. So I kept pushing on and found that if you are patient and take the risk of rushing for a quick fast bump in the face then you will get there with a lot of luck.

The launchers were a grind too, with support streaks in low demand; more people need to use personal radar instead of UAV, would have been easier.

In all truth the camo is a statement of mastering your patience and determination, because as soon as I played with the camo on everybody takes you out as it is a bright colour and useless as a camouflage.
Hoping for classic maps Overgrown, Afghan, Estate, Oasis, Village, and Strike.

Now Obsidian master camo?
Bigboss1960 (PSN ID)

Enemies for life
Is there anything you do when you start playing a new game? I know some people used to read the manual cover to cover but obviously nowadays you do not get a manual. When I start a new game I always check to see if I can fall off a cliff or if there is an invisible wall stopping you from doing this, it also helps to know which games you could accidently fall off the edge if you are not careful enough.

I also attack friendly characters in single-player to see if it is one of those games where you cannot attack friendlies, if it does hurt them I tend to reload. But it is handy knowing that I could accidently harm a friendly character with a stray rocket.
Andrew J.
PS: Really looking forward to Star Wars: Vader Immortal on PlayStation VR as I didn’t think it would come to PlayStation VR, which I am lucky to have and was an exclusive to Oculus. I think Game Central gave it a good review from memory?

GC: Yes, it’s very good. But as a word of advice, do not try that attacking friendlies trick in Dark Souls or any FromSoftware game.

Doomed to crash
So new DLC is on the horizon for Doom Eternal. All well and good but perhaps they may like to patch the game so it runs better.

It’s by far and away the worst game i have ever played for crashes and some bugs. Once the campaign is completed and secrets collected it crashes back to the home screen. It crashes on slayer gates, crashes on collecting items and levels don’t load up, etc. I have made the mistake of playing it on original Xbox One and I feel it simply can’t handle it.

I tried some solutions, none work. It’s now unplayable and no other game I have played comes close to this crash ridden mess on Xbox One. I may want to play the DLC but may have to buy an Xbox One X to run it properly, although I’m reading online that also has the same issues.

GC: Really? It was fine for us on PlayStation 4.

Additional information
Just had a chance to watch the Xbox Series X gameplay reveal… They say first impressions count and I say that whoever put that together should be fired! Thankfully I went back for a second look and there were a few interesting games I focused on. My highlights, the first game shown, Bright Memory: Infinite, looked really great and in my view better than the Assassin’s Creed footage, which is even more impressive when you consider its the work of just one man!

The other one named The Ascent, on first view I’d dismissed it as a plain shooter that was not next gen material… however that’s now gone way up my list having seen 12 mins of gameplay, it’s on you tube! Why on earth was this not part of the presentation, it’s got stunning lighting, destruction of scenery and some lovely effects, none of which came out in the presentation.

Details have subsequently came out about the specifics of the space shooting game and the Xbox Series X improvements, like enhanced collision detection on asteroids and enhanced specific destruction. These are things that are far easier to show than frame rate or resolution. The majority of the footage shown had caveats stating representative of Xbox Series X gameplay, suggesting they weren’t even running on Xbox Series X machines! At least Xbox have acknowledged this, and hopefully will adjust future showings accordingly.

GC: Here’s that The Ascent video a few readers have mentioned, it was an IGN exclusive:

Alternative controls
I just watched that Bad Influence clip from before the N64 launched that you put on Saturday’s Inbox page.

It got me thinking, when she explained the different ways to use the controller – the third way was with the right hand on the analogue stick and the left hand on the D-pad. Did any games ever actually use this controller setup?

GC: We’re pretty sure at least one game did, we want to say it was maybe a fighting game, but we can’t remember the name. Maybe a reader can recall.

Downhill love
Whilst I’m very busy key-working at the moment, thee Switch is seeing a lot of love. Rage is brilliant, Super Mario Maker 2 has a new weekly competition, and after finishing Zelda: Link’s Awakening I’m now attempting to complete Luigi’s Mansion 3 (criminally underrated!). I now have a new passion…

Lonely Mountains: Downhill, I bought it immediately after reading the review for the Switch. After about five minutes I wondered if I had made a significant mistake, such was the frustration at falling off constantly… and the slightly unintuitive controls. After 15 minutes I was completely hooked, when it comes together, down-hilling on you mountain bike is euphoric. The graphical style is superb and this demonstrates perhaps how an indie title can outstrip a triple-A title such as Steep in terms of sheer playability.

I was interested to read about the possibly lack of consistency when hitting rocks, but as a (fairly poor) mountain biker the physics seems spot on, you can do massive jumps and falls at certain speeds safely and then find a small bit of gravel has you falling off.
team_catcave (Switch and PSN ID)

GC: Luigi’s Mansion 3 is very highly rated?

Thanks for your review of Lonely Mountains: Downhill. Had never heard of it before I read the review on Friday and it sounded just my thing! Was just about to purchase for my Switch but checked and there it was sat in Game Pass for my Xbox. Been hurtling down the slopes all weekend and absolutely loving it! It’s these little nuggets that has kept me reading every day since the Digitiser days on Teletext! Top work as always!
Saints Stickman

GC: We’re glad we’re not the only ones that had never heard of it till now.

Inbox also-rans
Couldn’t agree more with the weekend Reader’s Feature. Microsoft should have gone for it. Hold some stuff back, you know to keep the people interested, but they showed nothing really. Let’s hope next one goes guns out, like Phil said he was going to do.

This was mentioned in passing last week but how is the phrase Smart Delivery meant to relate to getting the next gen version of a game for free? Those are just two random words that have nothing to do with the (very good) concept they’re the name for. Microsoft’s marketing people really are weird.

This week’s Hot Topic
The question for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Ishi, who asks what are the most impressive video game graphics you’ve ever seen?

With the next generation of consoles fast approaching what’s the most impressed you’ve been up until this point? Was it purely because of the technical achievement or did the art design and camera work play a part as well?

What kind of things are you generally impressed by in games when it comes to visuals and what are you hoping will become possible in the next gen that is impossible, or very difficult, at the moment?

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The small print
New Inbox updates appear every weekday morning, with special Hot Topic Inboxes at the weekend. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length.

You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word Reader’s Feature at any time, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.

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