Bethesda Softworks, and parent company ZeniMax, are in the process of being bought by Microsoft for an eye-watering $7.5billion. The news came within hours of the pre-orders for Xbox’s next generation going on sale, and though it will be a while before we see the fruits of the deal, it got our collective mind racing on the sheer number of possibilities.
So we’ve put our heads together to give our takes on what might happen next, or what we think should. Got an idea of your own? Leave it in the comments. (If it’s good, we’ll be sure to pass it along – claiming it as our own, of course).
Will Bethesda's Starfield be a multi-platform release?
Firstly, $7.5 billion is an insane amount of money. If you combine Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm (Star Wars, Indiana Jones) and Marvel (Spider-Man, The Avengers, etc.) you get a little over $8 billion. As popular as properties like The Elder Scrolls and Fallout are, I’m not sure that they’re even in the same stratosphere.
Who am I to judge the business sense of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Head of Xbox Phil Spencer, though, right? Nobody, that’s who!
Setting the price aside, Zenimax is definitely a huge get for Xbox. While not all of the output has been stellar lately, studios under the Zenimax umbrella are responsible for some of the most acclaimed and beloved franchises out there. While the aforementioned Elder Scrolls and Fallout series are probably the biggest, there’s immense value in the likes of Dishonored, Doom, Wolfenstein and Prey too.
Whether or not Xbox will now hoard all of these games as exclusives remains to be seen. There’s a compelling argument either way: Microsoft can share them, looking like the good guy while PS5 players pay £70 per game and Xbox Series X/S, PC and Android users play everything at no additional cost via their Game Pass Ultimate subscriptions. Alternatively, they could cut PlayStation out completely to drive more console and subscription sales; it’d also put to bed the (formerly somewhat valid) assertion that Xbox has no exclusive games.
Corporate news like this isn't unusual in the technology world, one which Microsoft has a very large non-gaming presence in, let's not forget, but to hear these two major players in the industry had come together was a surprise.
Bethesda is a significant presence in the industry as far as individuals go as well. Todd Howard, while hardly the fan favourite since Fallout 76 missed expectations, has been at the top of every Xbox hardware announcement sizzle reel for years, so perhaps the deal is not as surprising as first thought.
The IPs folded into Xbox are interesting, but I'm more interested in the sort of cross-pollination we could see. Doom Slayer in a re-worked, hell-themed Firefight map in the next Halo anyone?
Anything which puts different ideas together in a fun, self-aware way is something I'm on board with. Whether the size and complexity of this new business juggernaut allows for that sort of fun and games we will have to see.
For those banking on Game Pass, we're already expecting a boost in potential games, and any push to finish Dishonored 2 is equally welcome.
Halo Reach's Kat and Emile turned up in Gears 5's multiplayer, so Microsoft aren't adverse to mixing things up.
What do you think of the Xbox-Bethesda deal? Let us know below.
It’s finally happened. The PlayStation 5’s standard and digital editions now have not only a release date, but a price point. The disc-friendly version will set you back £450 (the same as an Xbox Series X), while the digital-leaning iteration is £360. You can get your hands on one from 19 November, should you be able to snag a pre-order.
Now that we have all the prices and release dates for the next generation of consoles, are you tempted by the shiny new boxes? Are you going to hold off until the prices drop and more games come out? We asked the team where they stand on the PS5 after Sony’s latest showcase event.
The PS4 still has some impressive looking games coming its way.
The price gap between the two cheaper consoles – £110 between the Xbox Series S and the PS5 Digital Edition – could make all the difference for a lot of people. The added benefit of Game Pass for Xbox, plus the flexible pricing options mean it’s a sensible choice for most people this Christmas.
Like Liam, I’m yet to play many of the PS4’s best exclusives, and with new games still getting PS4 releases you could be better off picking up a cheaper PS4 Pro. You'd get plenty of graphical performance from cross-gen games like Forbidden West and Miles Morales, while also saving money at a time that’s tight for many.
The backpedaling, highlighted by Eurogamer, shouldn’t be missed either. Sony was clear that these new game experiences would be a generational leap, making them out of reach of the previous generation, but now they suddenly seem more achievable on the PS4. Add to that the sketchy presentation of some “exclusives” which will actually be coming to other platforms later and it represents a serious cause for concern.
If you’re dying to play the new God of War though, you can be sure that the PS5 is the fastest and highest-fidelity way to do so, which may just be enough to make it a no-brainer for you. For everyone else, a bit of patience might go a long way.
Was the PC announcement really "human error," or will the Demon's Souls remake eventually make its way to other platforms?
While paling in comparison to Xbox Game Pass, I’d argue that the PlayStation Plus Collection makes a compelling argument for upgrading to PS5 if you still need to catch up on all things PS4. Both James and Liam recommend a PS4 Pro for the time being, but you could put that money towards the PlayStation 5 instead and gain access to a library of the biggest and best PlayStation 4 games almost by default.
Exclusive games have always been what draws me towards one console or another. Opinions on games are subjective, of course, but if you’re in it for the big launch titles then PS5 is worth a pre-order for Demon’s Souls and Spider-Man: Miles Morales alone. Learning that both of those would be available from day one convinced me to pre-order, anyway.
I still plan to buy an Xbox Series X, but I’m not looking forward to playing anything in particular on Microsoft’s next-gen console come launch day. Xbox is a far greater value proposition with Game Pass Ultimate and backwards compatibility for both software and hardware peripherals, but it just doesn’t have those big-budget titles to really draw me in from the get go.
From where I stand, whether you should purchase a PS5 depends on what appeals to you more. Is it the sizzle of exclusive games you can’t play anywhere except PlayStation? Or is it the consumer friendliness that Xbox brings to the table, albeit without much excitement.
A PlayStation Plus subscription could be an alternative way to experience classic PS4 exclusives on the latest tech.
Will you be pre-ordering a PlayStation 5? If so, which one? Let us know below or in the forums.
After much anticipation, Microsoft finally lifted the lid on its Christmas console release plans, announcing a new Xbox, the less powerful Xbox Series S, as well as the prices for both next generation consoles.
Big brother the Xbox Series X will be £449, while the Series S, which lacks a disc drive and some of the more impressive frills, costs £249.
On top of that, the Xbox All Access programme makes the barrier to owning one of these beauties lower than usual, with monthly finance options to spread the cost over two years.
So, the big question this week is: Which is the right console for you? We put our heads together to try to make sense of it all.
Is there a tiny Master Chief lurking somewhere inside the Series X amongst all that impressive tech?
James has already covered the technical specs and objectively weighed the pros and cons of each new Xbox, so I’ll mostly leave that alone.
Personally, I’ll be opting for the Xbox Series X at launch. As one of the diehards that the more powerful console is aimed at, it’s really a no-brainer. I’m someone that wants to get the most out of their game collection, and also a 4K TV owner, which makes Xbox Series X’s targeted 4K resolution a winning feature.
That being said, the Xbox Series S presents outrageously good value for money. A next generation console that costs less than the Nintendo Switch and the same as a PlayStation 4 will be too good a deal to pass up for many. Throw in the optional Xbox All Access financing plan, which includes Game Pass Ultimate and more than enough games to keep you busy, and Microsoft has somehow managed to make next-gen gaming affordable in the midst of a financial crisis.
With Apple stubbornly blocking xCloud streaming on iOS devices, I’ve been looking to buy an Android device that allows me to take Xbox gaming on the go. Since something capable usually costs more than a Series S and is subject to streaming stability, I’m considering also grabbing one of the budget-friendly consoles as a travel companion for extended time spent away from home.
Its suitcase-friendly size and low price point could make the Series S the perfect travel companion.
Considering both of my previous two Xbox consoles - a limited edition Halo 5-themed base model and a Project Scorpio edition Xbox One X - cost me 500 euros (I was living in Europe at the time of purchase), the fact that I can upgrade to a next-gen Xbox for just £249 is utterly bonkers.
Although leaks and rumours had all but confirmed the existence of the Series S before its official reveal earlier this week, I hadn’t given it much thought, and it was pretty much a given that I’d be picking up a Series X at some point.
Now, however, Microsoft have given me a real dilemma. On paper, the Series S seems like a perfect fit; it’s cheap, it’s streamlined, it’ll presumably run next-gen games just as well as the Series X (at least performance-wise) and I don’t own a 4K TV or plan on getting one any time soon. Did I mention it’s cheap?
The only caveat is the missing disc drive. Granted, I’ve not bought an Xbox game for a while thanks to Game Pass, and those I have bought were usually digital purchases picked up during a sale, but it’s a big omission for someone who likes collecting physical copies of games.
The cause of, and solution to, a lot of next-gen dilemmas.
Will you be opting for the Series S or Series X this November? Let us know your thoughts below.
While the crowds might not have descended on Cologne in Germany for the biggest gaming event of the year, Gamescom still brought together the biggest trailers and game reveals it could muster, virtually, starting with the 2-hour Opening Night Live stream.
We’ve pondered the selection and picked out a few of our favourite moments. Be sure to let us know what you’re looking forward to in our comments section.
The Skywalker Saga is looking Crait.
Gamescom 2020 didn’t do much for me. I’m excited about several of the featured games, but most didn’t present anything new or of substance during the digital event.
Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart left me impressed following its initial reveal, though the footage that capped off Opening Night Live largely retread the same ground. It was a similar situation with Mafia: Definitive Edition, which received a short trailer when just a couple of days prior lengthy previews were all over YouTube.
Dragon Age 4 is another I’m looking forward to that didn’t show particularly well. We’ve known it’s on the way for years, but still we only get looks at concept art and character models; well, that and what could be empty promises from BioWare.
Indies fared better, as they did during last month’s State of Play, with Little Nightmares 2 and 12 Minutes putting in strong showings. Bridge Constructor: The Walking Dead also proved surprisingly compelling, mostly for its sheer outlandishness.
Finally, Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond left a sour taste due to questionable marketing. The classic series’ return looks impressive, which is why I got all excited to see Oculus Quest as a supported platform. Take a moment to check the smallprint, however, and it becomes clear that there isn’t actually a dedicated Quest version. Instead, you’ll need a compatible PC and an Oculus Link cable… which kinda defeats the purpose of owning an all-in-one VR headset, no?
You'll still need a beefy PC to enjoy Respawn's Above and Beyond.
DIRT 5 is a game that continues to pique my interest, even though I’m not that much of a racing fan (though I did enjoy Codemasters’ GRID reboot). I’m not exactly big on map editors, either, but DIRT 5’s playground mode shown off during the stream looks surprisingly robust, and the teaser for a vampire mode, which I assume is a vehicular take on infection, has me intrigued.
Elsewhere, Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War continues to sound promising, although as a fan of the original Black Ops, it’s still a bit weird hearing Mason, Hudson and Woods without their original voice actors. I especially like the idea of the campaign’s optional objectives and nonlinear elements, and I look forward to experiencing them as my hastily made protagonist - character creators be damned!
Star Wars Squadrons was the highlight of the show, however, and I am thoroughly looking forward to its release next month. Everything I’ve seen of the game so far has me convinced it could very well be the modern-day Rogue Squadron I’ve been waiting for, and even though I’m going to be picking it up on Xbox One, if I end up getting a PS5 I’ll be seriously tempted to double dip just for VR support.
Probably the closest we'll get to a new Rogue Squadron.
What were your highlights from Gamescom? Let us know below or in the forums.