Xbox Cloud Gaming confirmed for Xbox consoles – right here's why it is sensible

Microsoft has announced its Xbox Cloud Gaming platform (aka xCloud) is coming to Xbox consoles later this year, which is great news for gamers with limited hard-drive space.

Until now, the cloud technology has been geared towards helping users experience high-end gaming experiences beyond the powerful Xbox consoles, as back-end server hardware does all of the heavy lifting.

That’ll change “this holiday season” (apologies for the Americanism), when Microsoft updates the Xbox dashboard on Series X/S and the Xbox One console. Here’s the trailer:

[embedded content]

Naturally, those console owners will still need to be Game Pass Ultimate subscribers to access the cloud games, but compatible games – identifiable by a cloud icon – will soon be available to stream as well as download. During the Xbox @ Gamescom 2021 stream on Wednesday, Microsoft said that 100 Game Pass titles will be part of the rollout, with multiplayer integration.

With download sizes bigger than ever for next-generation gaming experiences, and most hard-drives capped at 1TB, this will have multiple positive effects for gamers moving forward.

Firstly, they can jump into the game without waiting ages to download it.Secondly, they’ll be able to decide whether they like it before downloading to play offline.Thirdly, this will not require gamers with space issues to go deleting games in order to play a new one.

It’ll also mean that those yet to get a next-gen Xbox, will be able to play games like Microsoft Flight Simulator on an Xbox One. Microsoft does say games will support up to 1080p at 60fps to ensure a consistent experience for all.

“Bottom line? Cloud gaming on your console further reduces your time to fun! All you have to do is navigate to Xbox Game Pass and look for games with the cloud icon,” Microsoft says in a blog post.

We’ll have more from the Xbox live stream at Gamescom throughout the evening.

New Forza Horizon 5 gameplay trailer and {custom} controller unveiled at Gamescom

The Xbox @ Gamescom 2021 live stream saw Microsoft put Forza Horizon 5 in pole position, ahead of its release on November 9.

We got 8-minutes of new gameplay – which you can see below – a closer look at some new cars (including the cover cars) and the unveiling of a special, Forza-themed translucent Xbox Wireless Controller.

The trailer shows the cover cars, the Mercedes-AMG ONE and the 2021 Ford Bronco Badlands, in full flow. The former is the first to feature Formula 1 hybrid technology, while the Bronco is “primed to deliver rugged, off-roading across Mexico’s vast terrain like those amazing jungles and deserts.”

When playing on the next-gen Xbox Series X/S consoles, racers will benefit from raytracing in Forzavista, which promises “a new level of material response and reflections, that are more like what you’d see with your eyes in real-life.”

Here’s the first 8-minutes of gameplay, which showcases the rich and varied Mexican setting in as much glorious detail as the vehicles themselves.

[embedded content]

As for that slick, limited edition Xbox Wireless Controller, the colourful but translucent design is inspired by the fireworks at the in-game Horizon festival. Those snapping up the pad will also get exclusive DLC for a “Forza edition car” and a “victory emote.”

You might like…

In a post on the Xbox Wire blog, Microsoft says: “The controller features a first-ever transparent yellow finish, with a custom-coloured, visible rumble motor and lighting effects that play off the Xbox button. The controller includes textured grips on the triggers and bumpers, and custom bottom and side dimple patterned grips inspired by perforated style performance car steering wheels.”

[embedded content]

Both the controller and the game are available to pre-order now, ahead of the release date of November 9.

Elsewhere at Gamescom, Microsoft announced Xbox Cloud Gaming will be available on consoles, while there was a host of Game Pass news. Still no Halo Infinite release date, mind.

Oculus Quest replace lastly makes it simpler to share your VR highlights

The Oculus Quest 2 is our favourite VR headset, but it still has its limitations; not least the Facebook-centric faff of sharing images and videos captured in virtual reality.

That changes today as Oculus begins rolling out a software update that enables those clips and screen grabs to be automatically synced with the mobile device of the user’s choosing.

V32 of the Quest software will ensure everything captured and saved goes straight back to the Oculus mobile app, where it can then be edited, downloaded and shared beyond the realm of Facebook’s suite of apps and services.

To ensure media begins syncing, users will be able to first browse to the Files app on the headset itself, but it’s straightforward enough.

Here’s Oculus’ own explanation: “To get started, simply open the Files App from your Quest app library and select the cloud icon in the top-right corner of the panel. It’s that easy! Now if you want to show off photos of your latest Gravity Sketch project or save and share footage of a clutch POPULATION: ONE win from the convenience of your smartphone, we have you covered.

“All your synced media files can be found in the Oculus mobile app. Look for the “Synced Media” section under the Devices tab. Media will be unsynced and automatically removed from your Oculus app after 14 days.”

Elsewhere, the update includes easier access to your friends in VR thanks to the People tab in Messenger. “Just navigate to the People tab in Messenger, and you’ll find a single list of your Oculus and Facebook friends to make it easier for you to reach all your online connections,” the company says.

You might like…

Finally there are updates to the headset’s motion-based VR fitness tools, with daily goals now becoming weekly goals, giving users more flexibility. There’s also an update that makes it easier to gift apps to friends.

The update is rolling out gradually so it may be a couple of weeks before all users see it.

How Microsoft Flight Simulator soared onto the Xbox Sequence X

We’re back again with Microsoft Flight Simulator Head, Jörg Neumann, to talk about the process of porting the game over to the Xbox console and why it was such an important decision for the devs.

Microsoft Flight Simulator continues to take off with fans, giving you the chance to discover the world from the skies. In our last instalment, we got to understand how the team made it easier for players to operate their plane, and how FIFA gave them some unexpected tips on tutorials.

With increasing exposure and a growing player base, it was important to the developers to make sure everyone could have a chance to experience flight simulation.

Why did you port it over to Xbox Series X?

“I mean, I would say I fundamentally believe in choice. One of the things I honestly love, yeah, I work at Microsoft, but what I really love about where gaming is going is that it’s more and more independent of what machine you’re on,” Jörg Neumann, Head of Microsoft Flight Simulator, told Trusted Reviews.

“I think the world’s just changed, technology enables this to be ubiquitous everywhere. And I think that is a good thing because, you know, expensive PCs are for just on the socio-economic perspective not affordable in huge chunks of this planet.

“And I think genuinely that the dream of flight is near-universal, like, you know, I always say I won’t be going back. I think it’s very much ingrained in us as a species. And I think, why is that locked behind a $3,000 computer? That makes no sense.”

Despite having stock issues plague the console, the Xbox Series X and Series S are undoubtedly a cheaper alternative for those looking to game without a PC.

“So I am very happy that people can now buy it on a console that lowers the threshold and down the road, I think we’re gonna see more of that, like Microsoft with game streaming, I think that democratises what’s possible a lot. And I think that’s great for some products like this, it’s just a good thing,” Neumann goes on to say.

What challenges were there porting it over to Xbox?

“I would say that we always start with the player. So we looked quite a bit at that when we launch a PC, we have already supported the gamepad.

“So we looked at the controller quite a bit, and we looked at territorialization. And frankly, we went back in time and said, hey, how was it the first time before we ever started, before we ever took a flight lesson, before we ever started in a sim.

“And basically said, people watch the trailers, and they’re oftentimes curious because the trailers look pretty, and they just want to see what this is all about. And so we launched it in the air, the weather’s nice, the fuel is full, it’s very empowering.

“So we tested that a lot. You know, Microsoft has a research group that brings in, it’s very scientific, they bring in people, we look at their hands and ask them how they feel about stuff. And after we did the first few discovery slides, it was clear that newcomers really liked it, like they felt almost immediately empowered,” Neumann detailed.

You might like…

Were there any compromises porting it over to Xbox?

“I mean, I would say compromise is the wrong word, there was a lot of work, you know, when we launched. I think we needed like 23 gigabytes of memory and the consoles don’t have that much memory,” Neumann explained.

“So we have things on the PC version, which we call offline worlds, and that’s very much an opt-in, it’s actually 42 gigabytes. If your internet ever goes down, you can basically see an offline, not using auto version, but it never goes down.

“I mean, we’ve looked at the data, we’ve had no instances where that happened. So it’s like now we gave it an option that well, if you want to not have this, those 42 gigs, please don’t download them because you don’t need to. And then as much as we could offload to the cloud, we did.

“That’s also when you look at the SiriusXM series, as it is obviously not exactly the same hardware. But the experience is pretty much identical. One is in 4k, the other one is not but it’s upscaled to 4k, but it visually looks very, very close.

“So I would say, our base principle, when we started the transition over to console was, we can’t go back, we can’t go down, it can’t go diminished. We definitely have all these principles. We’re never going to dumb down the SIM, we’re never going to make it look worse. We’re never going to do this.”

The Microsoft Flight Sim does not change massively when played on PC or Xbox, and the style of independent gameplay is also kept consistent across both versions.

“And then the thing that’s important for answers is that it’s a consistent frame rate,” Neumann went on to say.

“So we actually did say, early on, we’re gonna lock it at 30 (fps) because flight simming, it’s not a shooter, right? It’s not very twitchy, when the plane goes forward, you sort of steer slowly, you know, so you can do it for 30 frames a second and it feels nice.

“But what doesn’t feel nice is when it starts to deteriorate. That’s, that really isn’t good. So we spent actually a lot of time optimising the entire product, including obviously the PC side to not stutter it anymore.

“And that’s what all the work really is looking at in every system. Make sure the threading is fully optimised for those types of things, but it’s otherwise pretty much the same.”

If you enjoyed this snippet with Jörg Neumann, you can check out the first chat we had with him where he detailed how the developers managed to map out a pretty accurate version of our world in-game.

We’ll be publishing another section of our interview with Jörg Neumann on Trusted Reviews next week, so keep your eyes peeled if you want to hear about more Microsoft Flight Simulator news.

Halo Infinite to launch with out main modes regardless of year-long delay

The long-delayed and even longer-awaited Halo Infinite game for PC and Xbox will be missing two of the series’ most identifiable features at launch.

In a developer update posted to YouTube on Friday, 343 Industries says both the campaign co-op mode, a beloved future in previous games, and Forge mode won’t be present at launch.

Instead, the developer said it hopes to launch the campaign co-op mode three months after the game eventually goes on sale this winter.

The popular Forge mode, which has been present since Halo 3, enables players to customise and share multiplayer maps. It won’t arrive until six months after launch, so we’re looking at Season 3 and April 2022.

“Unfortunately as we focused the team for shutdown and really focused on a quality experience for launch we made the really tough decision to delay shipping campaign co-op for launch,” Joseph Staten said during the update, “and we also made the tough call to delay shipping Forge past launch as well.”

You can see further comments from Staten on the matter from around 17 minutes in the YouTube clip below.

[embedded content]

The news is certainly a disappointment for long-time Halo gamers. Infinite was initially earmarked as the headline launch title for the Xbox Series X and Series S consoles, but the release date was pushed back by an entire year.

Sometimes honest conversations are tough conversations. Thank you for your patience and your passion. We’re committed to only shipping features when they’re ready–and to making sure all of you have a great #HaloInfinite experience on all platforms this holiday.— Joseph Staten (@joestaten) August 20, 2021

For it still not to be ready coming up to 18 months after the initially proposed launch date reflects the challenges of getting a AAA game completed in the modern pandemic era. It’s probably better for all concerned that Microsoft and 343 Industries are holding off until the experience is ready in order to avoid debacles like we saw with Cyberpunk 2077, a game yet to regain its reputation.

However, not everyone is impressed by the delay…

I am genuinely upset that Halo Infinite won’t have co-op campaign until 3 months after launch and forge 6 months.Insane.— Celeste Anderson (@itsBiiTTERSWEET) August 20, 2021

Interesting. Forge is unlikely to annoy too many people, but no campaign co-op at launch for Halo Infinite is going to be a bitter pill to swallow for so many people looking forward to jumping straight into that with their friends as soon as they get it.— Ryan McCaffrey (@DMC_Ryan) August 20, 2021

Halo Infinite will launch on Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox One and Windows PCs from ‘Holiday 2021’. It’s also going to be available on Game Pass on day one.

Intel Alder Lake has a special treat for Windows 11 users, but Linux may be left in the lurch

Intel has announced the launch of Alder Lake, but it might not be good news for non-Windows users.

Intel Alder Lake is the latest processor from Intel, taking the place of the 11th generation processor Rocket Lake.

However, it seems unless people are using Windows 11, it might be a struggle to utilise Intel’s 12th generation processor.

Alder Lake has been developed with Windows 11 in mind and will be integrated into the operating system when it launches at the end of October.

Intel has said that the 24 thread director, which is responsible for ensuring that the right amount of power is given to both foreground and background applications, is optimised for Windows 11 and that it is the most efficient operating system for Alder Lake.

The company has not been too clear on how Alder Lake will work on other operating platforms, and it doesn’t seem likely that you will be able to backport Alder Lake onto Windows 10.

When asked by Trusted Reviews, Ran Bersenson, VP General Manager of Core and client development Intel, said that the launch will include Windows 11 and workloads using 24 threads would benefit from Alder Lake.

Bersenson also mentioned that “optimization can be pulled into other operating systems as well,” however, did not give any further details on if the quality would suffer as a result or if it would be viable on the operating platform Linux.

It seems likely it will work on Mac’s operating system, yet the general consensus is that the best version of Alder Lake will be on Windows 11, though Intel did not make any conclusive comments on the processor performing noticeably worse on other operating platforms when asked.

Instead, the only insight Bersenson gave was that it will depend on the OS and the specific processes being run.

“The algorithm will be different on different operating systems. It [also] depends on the workload, the thread detector will shine in different areas depending on what you’re doing,” he said.

“In workloads that are not utilising all the threads there are no differences; it depends on the attributes of the threads that inform where you’ll see gains.”

It seems Intel aren’t willing to reveal much more about Alder Lake, but since the release will be in late October, we might get a few more details about how the processor will run of different operating systems before then.

You might like…

3 questions Intel must reply about Alder Lake

With the reveal of Alder Lake, Intel made some pretty bold claims about the new CPU’s architecture’s performance. But, despite that, it offered woefully little detail on a few key details.

Read on to find out what our biggest questions are and what Intel had to say in response.

To catch non-techies up, Intel Alder Lake is the new hybrid processor that will take the place of the Rocket Lake generation of chips. It’s promising to be the most powerful processor to date, able to prioritise foreground tasks while still running background tasks thanks to the 24 thread director and new thread management technology.

Will it work to its full potential on operating systems that aren’t Windows 11?

Alder Lake has been designed with Windows 11 in mind and will be integrated into the operating system upon release.

However, we don’t really know how it will work on other operating systems, or if it can even be backported to Windows 10.

Intel has said that the thread director in Windows 11 is much smarter about picking the right core for power and performance and that the browser Edge should take advantage of the API and thread counter.

It doesn’t seem that Intel Alder Lake will be able to work on Windows 10, Intel has been a little cagey about what operating systems it will work on, but has said that workloads that use 24 threads will gain from using Windows 11.

When asked by Trusted Reviews, Ran Bersenson, VP General Manager of Core and client development at Intel, said that: “optimization can be pulled into other operating systems as well, but at launch, the work is done with Windows 11.”

Ran also mentioned that the thread code will be different for other operating systems, as it’s a static algorithm, however, the company said it won’t reach its full potential when used on other operating systems, like Linux.

So, all in all, it seems that you should be able to run Intel Alder Lake on other operating systems, but it seems clear that it will work best on Windows 11.

Are the thermals at a steady level?

Not a lot has been said about the thermals for Alder Lake, for either the mobile version or the desktop version.

While it wasn’t specified how improved the thermals have gotten, we know that Alder Lake will be introduced in three different DDP configurations, 125w, 65w and 35w.

Bersenson, when asked by Trusted Reviews, also mentioned that all of the DDP configurations will use every available wattage to get better performance.

Adi Yoaz, Chief Architect of performance core and intel fellow, said that: “thermal is a real issue and we take it into account when we architect the core and the hotspots to make sure that we don’t lose any performance because of a because of play hotspots.”

When pressed, however, Intel claimed that it will not be able to give any specific details relating to thermals at this point.

You might like…

How much better is Intel Alder Lake than Rocketlake?

Comparing the 11th and 12th generation of processors, it does seem like Alder Lake has made some improvements on its last model, but the specifics of which are still a little unclear.

Intel has said it is not yet ready to share the numbers on the performance difference, however, we can get a bit of the information when comparing it to the 8th generation processor, Skylake.

Intel claimed that the next-generation chip had an 80% improvement over Skylake and that the 8th generation chip would need five times the amount of power for the same results.

The Alder Lake processor will also be able to support ray tracing and mass sampling at launch, which Rocketlake was unable to do. Alder Lake should also be able to provide better performance while using less power, thanks to the thread director and hybrid design choice.

Intel Alder Lake will also support 1080p gameplay, use a DDR5 chip for memory that should ensure high DDR speeds and allow for high-speed power, and an upgraded PCLE with a bandwidth of gen four.

When asked about the specific advantages of Alder Lake to the previous generation, Yoaz claimed that “we did not make this comparison”.

So it seems, for the most part, Intel has shied away from directly comparing Alder Lake with its predecessor, so we can’t give you the exact specifications on how this processor is improved at this time.

What’s the Intel thread director?

Intel’s latest Architecture Day event has bought us a lot of new technology, but what is a thread director, and why do you need to know about it?

Intel Arc has shown us Intel’s new CPU and GPU range, showing off the companies new era of innovations and how it plans to improve performance for both consumers and developers.

When talking about Intel’s newest tech, specifically Alder Lake, the 12th generation processor that will succeed Rocket Lake, the term ‘thread director’ is mentioned often, but what does it mean? Read on to find out what a thread processor is and why it’s such an important element to Intel Alder Lake.

What CPUs will it work on?

To understand why a thread director is important, you might want to know what Alder Lake is first.

To simplify it for non-techie readers, Alder Lake is Intel’s next-generation processor and is also an SoC (system on chip). It is the companies first performance hybrid architecture and integrates two types of core: performance-core and efficiency-core.

These two types of core are integral to the thread director, but simply put Alder Lake should help to boost your PC to get better performance while using less power.

If you want a more thorough explainer of what Alder Lake is, you can check out our article on it by clicking on the link prior.

What is a thread director?

Looking back at the P-core and E-core’s in Alder Lake, Intel has developed a thread director to help ensure that the cores can work seamlessly with the operating system to provide a quicker PC experience.

The thread director is built directly into the hardware and provides instructions that make sure the right thread is in the right core at the right time.

The P-core is prominently where the foreground programs go. This would cover bigger tasks or more important tasks, such as playing a game or running Photoshop. The programs that are deemed most important, usually through interaction, are given the highest priority with P-core.

Meanwhile, E-core covers more of the background programs, so less power is sent to applications you aren’t interacting with or don’t currently have open. If needed, P-core and E-core can switch roles to fulfil power needs, but the director will always try to put the power where it’s needed and save power where it’s not.

You might like…

Why does this matter?

Depending on what you use your desktop for, an efficient thread director could be very helpful. If you’re running higher demand programs at once, for example, playing and streaming videogames at the same time, a thread director would be able to power manage power efficiency to ensure there is minimal stuttering and lag on the foreground applications.

If you’re using your desktop or laptop for less intense programs, you might not feel the need for this type of tech, though in general, it is a good way to help your device boost its performance while saving power.

The thread director also gets ‘hints’, which helps the operating system make more intelligent scheduling decisions, which should also help deter lag issues and load up times.

What does the thread director work on?

The thread director is integral to Alder Lake, as previously mentioned, so it’s important to understand what Alder Lake works on too.

The processor has been built with Windows 11 in mind and will be integrated into the system at launch. Intel has stated that Windows 11 will get the best optimisation and performance results, so if you’re looking into Windows 11 it’s a safe bet Alder Lake will work for you.

It’s a little less clear if Alder Lake will work on other operating systems, as the company has been dodging questions that ask if the processor will see a decline in quality if used on Mac or Linux.

You can also check out our article detailing what operating systems Alder Lake will work best on by visiting the link prior, if you want more details.

When will it be available?

Alder Lake is due to be released in late October, though we don’t know a specific date yet.

Microsoft declares new wired headset for Xbox

Microsoft has announced a new, more affordable wired headset for Xbox gamers less concerned with wireless compatibility.

The new Xbox Stereo Headset, which costs £54.99/$59.99 compared to the £89.99/$99.99 Microsoft asks for the wireless counterpart, plugs into the Xbox controller via the 3.5mm jack, so you won’t need to trail the cable across the room to your console. You won’t need batteries either.

There’s an adjustable mic for clearer in-game chat with your multiplayer parters, while Microsoft says the headset supports multiple spatial audio technologies, including Windows Sonic, Dolby Atmos, and DTS Headphone:X. That’ll provide an immersive surround-sound environment to boost your gaming endeavours.

The headset promises ultra-soft ear cups for to ensure comfort during those longer sessions, while there’s an adjustable mic that can simply be tucked away when it’s not in use.

It’s already available to pre-order ahead of the September 20 release date. There’s free shipping and hassle-free returns from Microsoft. Microsoft already sells alternate headsets like the £449 B&O BeoPlay Portal, which is made for Xbox.

You might like…

In our review of the wireless iteration of the device, we praised the great sound and powerful bass, clever design, easy-to-use controls and incredible value. We were a little disappointed in the plasticky build and absence of active noise cancelling, but still afforded the accessory 4.5 out of a possible 5 stars.

Our reviewer wrote: “Offering incredible bang for your buck, the Xbox Wireless Headset blends clever design with booming performance, at a price that’s more than reasonable. From multiple device support to EQ customisation, intuitive controls and a comfortable fit, there’s plenty to love here.”

Have you snapped up a new headset for your Xbox gaming endeavours? Share your recommendations @trustedreviews on Twitter.

Name of Responsibility: Vanguard is out November 5 and the WW2 plot sounds unimaginable

Activision and Sledgehammer Games have officially revealed Call of Duty: Vanguard, returning to World War II for this year’s first-person shooter.

The reveal that initially took place within the free-to-play Warzone online game, comes with a brand new three-minute cinematic trailer ahead of its release on November 5. There’ll be a historically-inspired single-player campaign mode, as well the multiplayer mode and the the obligatory integration with Call of Duty: Zombies.

The game will take players to North Africa, the Eastern Front, the Western Front and the Pacific, so the major theatres of the Second World War. However, the game will use an alternate reality to frame its conflict. The plot is centred on a dastardly Nazi plan to survive the end of the war and continue their reign of terror.

Four major ‘special forces’ characters will carry the campaign mode and they’re all inspired by real World War II soldiers, with some much needed diversity along for the ride. Those characters will start in the various theatres, but will come together for a final mission.

“The world is burning. Sometimes the only way to pout out the flames is with more fire,” one of the the protagonists says as the trailer opens before we enter the bloody conflict on all fronts.

[embedded content]

That character is named Arthur Kingsley, who is inspired by a black British paratrooper named Sidney Cornell. The other characters are Polina Petrova, who is inspired by the female Soviet sniper Lyudmila Pavlichenko. She was known as ‘Lady Death’ so quite good at her job.

There’s also Wade Jackson, who is inspired by the Vernon L. Michael, who blew up Japanese aircraft carriers at the Battle of Midway in the Pacific. Finally, there’s Aussie Lucas Riggs. He was inspired by Charles Upham who won a pair of Victoria Cross medals.

The baddie (to put it mildly) Heinrich Freisinger, is inspired by Heinrich Muller, who ran the Gestapo for Hitler. He wasn’t a very nice chap.

You might like…

Call of Duty: Vanguard will be available on November 5 for Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, PS5 and PC.