About Author: Nick Santangelo

Description
Nick has been a gamer since the 8-bit days and has been reporting on the games industry since 2011. He is not to be interrupted while questing his way through an RPG or desperately clinging to hope against all reason that his Philly sports teams will win any given game he may be watching. Find Nick Santangelo on Google+ and Twitter.

Posts by Nick Santangelo

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The Banner Saga 2 coming to Xbox One in 2015 *updated*

The Banner Saga 2 for Xbox One

Update: Versus Evil has confirmed to XBLA Fans that the first Banner Saga game will be arriving for Xbox One sometime in Q1 or Q2 of 2015.

Original Story: Created by a trio of former BioWare employees and backed by over $700,000 in Kickstarter funding, Stoic’s The Banner Saga hasn’t released on Xbox 360 or Xbox One. The game, which enjoys an aggregate rating of 82 on Metacritic, instead released on PC and has a PS4 and Vita ports planned for next year.

It was understandable, then, if Xbox-only gamers uttered a collective “meh” when the sequel was announced last week — but it was also premature. Publisher Versus Evil has announced that it will bring Stoic’s The Banner Saga 2 to Xbox One in 2015 as part of the ID@Xbox program.

“The critical reception and widespread fan appreciation for The Banner Saga is overwhelming and humbling, and has the team at Stoic dedicated to delivering a fantastic sequel with The Banner Saga 2,” Stoic Co-owner and Art Director Arnie Jorgensen wrote in a press release.

Set in a Norse-inspired fantasy world, the series features turn-based combat and focuses on the story of the player’s entire caravan rather than honing in on individual characters. Stoic plans to eventually release a third game to tie up that story.

XBLA Fans has reached out to Versus Evil to inquire whether or not the first game will ever make its way to the Xbox One and will update this story should a response be issued. For now, take a look at the sequel’s announcement trailer below to get an idea of what Stoic has in store for you next year.

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Holiday price drop pushing Xbox One sales to new heights

Xbox One

In the eight months immediately following the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One launches in November of 2013, Sony, riding high on major public relations victories over Microsoft, led next-gen console sales by a supposed margin of nearly two to one. Despite selling at a pace much quicker than the last-gen-market-leading Xbox 360 did during the same point in its life cycle, the Xbox One was lagging far behind the PlayStation 4 in market share.

So Microsoft made some changes.

Executives Don Mattrick and Marc Whitten left the company. Phil Spencer took over as the head of the Xbox team. Kinect was unbundled from the console. Larger multimedia initiatives were cut entirely or made ancillary in favor of a focus on gaming first and foremost. Finally, the Xbox One’s price was temporarily (for the holidays) dropped to $350 with a $60 retail game bundled in.

Those maneuvers seem to be paying off, as data reporting firm InfoScout found that the Xbox One enjoyed a Black Friday sales lead of 22 percent over the PlayStation 4, according to data compiled from more than 180,000 sales receipts. InfoScout followed up by conducting a survey of 350 consumers who purchased a console on Black Friday, and found that 71 percent of Xbox One buyers cited cost as a major influence on their purchase. Comparatively, just 48 percent of PlayStation 4 buyers surveyed indicated that price played a major role in their purchase decision.

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Thomas Was Alone review (Xbox One)

Thomas Was Alone was developed by Mike Bithell and published on Xbox One by Curve Studios. It was released on November 21, 2014 for $10.99. A copy was provided by Curve for review purposes.

Thomas Was Alone Cover Art

Thomas Was Alone is a game that released at precisely the right time in history. Originally debuting on PC in 2012 before finding its way to Xbox One, Thomas Was Alone perfectly captures today’s zeitgeist. Using nothing more than colored squares and rectangles that are seen and heard about but rarely heard from, developer Mike Bithell has assembled one of gaming’s most interesting and diverse casts of playable characters.

In Thomas Was Alone you play as artificial intelligences that have, as the result of a glitch in an experimental lab, become self-aware. Yes, this is a setup similar to ones we’ve seen countless times in popular media, but Bithell has breathed new life into it. AI Thomas, represented on screen by a red rectangle, is companionless and confused upon achieving self-awareness. He starts moving “up and to the right,” as the game’s delightful narrator makes a point of frequently noting, in a desperate bid to find friends and answers. It’s not long before Thomas begins encountering both, and he and his new friends endeavor to reach the awe-inspiring “fountain of wisdom” (internet connection). The staggering amount of information Thomas sees there convinces him that the AIs must work in sync towards the goal of escaping the system and entering the greater world beyond. Each AI is different in appearance and ability, and the way they learn to accept this diversity and use it to their advantage is nothing short of inspiring.

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Remastered Resident Evil coming to Xbox January 20

Resident Evil for Xbox One

Capcom has announced that its second remastered Resident Evil endeavor will release on Xbox 360 and Xbox One on January 20 for $19.99. Its retouched version of the game that essentially invented the survival-horror genre will simultaneously release on PC and PlayStation platforms.

Fans of the series, which Capcom says has sold over 62 million units to date, will recall that Resident Evil first released in 1996 for the original PlayStation, and that a remake arrived for the GameCube six years later. The 2015 release will feature resolutions and textures that have been “significantly upgraded” from the GameCube release. The next-gen version will run in 1080p and all versions will feature 5.1 surround sound. Capcom is also giving players the ability to switch back and forth between 4:3 and 16:9 aspect ratios.

That’s not the only new toggling option, either; Capcom is including a couple toggles that affect gameplay. The first offers the ability to swap between the original game’s infamous “tank” controls and a more contemporary control scheme. To further cater to modern-day gamers who may be approaching Resident Evil for the first time, Capcom is creating a new “Very Easy” gameplay mode. This difficulty level will be available in addition to all of the original ones.

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Microsoft went through 200 Xbox One controller prototypes

Xbox One Controller

On the surface, the Xbox One controller isn’t too different from its Xbox 360 predecessor: four face buttons, two triggers, a pair of bumpers, a couple of analog sticks, a d-pad, the Xbox Guide button and start and back button facsimiles. So designing it was probably a fairly simple task for Microsoft, right? Not exactly.

Carl Ledbetter is the man who led the team of 35 responsible for designing the Xbox One and its controller over a three-year period. In an interview with MCV, Ledbetter revealed that the console’s gamepad went through 200 prototypes that were tested by 1,100 people over a period of 500 hours.

“Nobody says anything about the little things on the hardware,” Ledbetter said. “If somebody is using the controller and after 30 minutes is saying ‘my hands are starting to hurt,’ then that’s a fail. But if after 30 minutes all they’re thinking about is the game, then we’re doing okay.”

Though most gamers and reporters have named rival Sony’s DualShock 4 as the new gold standard for gamepads, Microsoft’s Xbox One controller has been warmly received as well. Small but important changes from the 360 pad have resulted in an already comfortable design feeling even more satisfying in gamers’ hands. Complaints about aches and pains after 30 minutes of playing time have been virtually non-existent, making the design a success by Ledbetter’s standards.

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Ori and the Blind Forest delayed into 2015

Ori and the Blind Forest for Xbox One

Ori and the Blind the Forest has been delayed into early 2015 on Xbox One and late 2015 on Xbox Live Arcade, developer Moon Studios has announced. Moon was originally hoping to release the Xbox One version this year and the XBLA one in early 2015.

“While we’re extremely excited for all of you to get your hands on Ori and the Blind Forest as soon as possible, we made the decision together with our partners at Microsoft Studios that we’ll need just a little more time in order to add a final layer of polish to – what we hope – will be an unforgettable gaming experience,” the studio wrote on its website Friday.

The action-platformer was first announced during Microsoft’s E3 2014 press conference after having already spent four years in quiet development.

Source: Moon Studios

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Telltale reveals first Game of Thrones trailer and returning actors from the HBO show

Telltale's Game of Thrones Peter Dinklage

Four of the stars of HBO’s Game of Thrones will reprise their roles in the upcoming first episode of Telltale Games’ video game adaptation, Telltale has announced alongside the release of a new trailer.

Peter Dinklage, Lena Heady, Natalie Dormer and Ramsay Snow will voice Tyrion Lannister, Cersei Lannister, Margaery Tyrell and Iwan Rheon, respectively. Additional cast members will join them in subsequent episodes.

The first Game of Thrones episode, Iron From Ice, is still without a firm release date but is scheduled to arrive before the end of the year. Five more episodes following House Forrester behind the scenes of seasons three, four and five of the HBO program will follow.

Fans recently got their first look at the game thanks to some leaked screenshots, but now you can view it in action after the break.

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Never Alone review (Xbox One)

Never Alone was developed by Upper One Games and E-Line Media and published by E-Line Media. It was released on November 18, 2014 for $14.99 on Xbox One. A copy was provided for review purposes.

Never Alone's Mystic NPC

Do you remember the arrival of the first tightly crafted indie Xbox sidescroller that disproved the notion that a Big Developer with a Big Budget was needed to create games of the highest quality? Neither do I, and that’s because it’s an event guilty of such unrestrained reproduction that it’s hard to recall its inaugural occurrence. Was it the release of Limbo? Mark of the Ninja? Braid? Something else? Regardless of what game kicked off this most welcome — even if now slightly clichéd — trend, it’s seemed apparent since its announcement that Never Alone would be the next game to continue the movement.

Its pretty graphics, intriguing setting and story aspiring to teach players something new caused many to think that Never Alone would be the next big little game. Maybe that’s an unfair burden to have placed on it. Maybe gamers should have instead anticipated only a game that would deftly introduce them to a culture that was heretofore both underrepresented and misrepresented in popular media. Certainly Never Alone does just that, offering a glimpse at the Iñupiat people’s ways that’s worth seeing. But while Upper One Games and E-Line Media have wonderfully succeeded in educating their audience, they’ve come up disappointingly short in entertaining it.

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Kalimba (née Project Totem) gets December release date and new trailer

Project Totem is now Kalimba

Project Totem, the puzzle-platformer from Press Play, has been renamed Kalimba and is coming to Xbox One on December 17, the developer has announced. A new trailer showing the formerly titular totems platforming across various color-coded stages was released alongside the announcement.

Kalimba, which features both single-player and a co-op modes, has players controlling living totems that are stacked on top of each other to form poles. Creative Director Asger Strandby calls the co-op mode a “friendship tester.” XBLA Fans can speak to that point; our preview recounts some of the difficulties the team had in coordinating with each other to overcome the game’s obstacles. Shouting at your co-op partner is an inevitability.

Each totem pole piece is a different color, which is more of a design choice than it is an aesthetic one. Each stage in Kalimba‘s three worlds is filled with colored barriers that can only be passed through by a totem of the same hue. To progress through the game, players need to stack and align their totems so that each one is set to pass through barriers with their corresponding colors. Check the trailer after the jump to see this mechanic in action.

Players start with a limited number of totem pieces, but they’re given more to work with as they move deeper into the game and come closer to rescuing the island of Kalimba from an evil shaman.

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Telltale’s Game of Thrones has six episodes, focuses on War of the Five Kings

Game of Thrones Iron from Ice for Xbox One

Telltale Games today announced that, in a departure from its usual five-episode format, the studio’s upcoming Game of Thrones adventure game will span six episodes centering around House Forrester’s involvement in the franchise’s War of the Five Kings. The first episode is titled Iron from Ice and will release later this year on Xbox One, Xbox 360 and several other platforms.

As was previously revealed, Game of Thrones (the game) is based on the HBO program, which itself is based on the George R. R. Martin A Song of Ice and Fire books. Now, Telltale has narrowed down where its game will take place in relation to the TV show. The first episode will open around the same time the events of the show’s third season come to a close, and the sixth episode will run up into the beginning of HBO’s fifth season, which is set to air in 2015.

House Forrester’s involvement in the game was already public knowledge, but Telltale has now gone into further detail, saying that Forrester will be “placed in a precarious position where members of the household must do everything they can to prevent the house from meeting its doom.” The Forresters, a noble house loyal to the Starks and hailing from Wolfswood in Westeros’ northern region, have yet to make an on-screen appearance but are mentioned in Martin’s A Dance with Dragons.

Another previous revelation was that the game would follow five playable characters. Telltale has expounded on that design wrinkle, saying that it believes the approach “reflects the epic scope of Game of Thrones.” Gamers will need to be mindful of the multiple player-characters since the decisions made by just one can have ripple effects throughout all of House Forrester, and combining those choices with the actions taken by the four other player-characters will exponentially increase the potential ripples. Making the right choices will be the difference between winning and dying in the titular game of thrones.

Source: Telltale Games

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