Free Play Days: NBA 2K19 and Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege

Here’s this weekend’s all-star lineup for Free Play Days! Xbox Live Gold members can celebrate all-star weekend with NBA 2K19 and play Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege in-between matches of the Six Invitational for free. The Free Play Days event begins Thursday, February 14 at 12:01 a.m. PT and runs through to Sunday, February 17 at 11:59 p.m. PT. You can find and install the games here. To download on console, click on the Gold member area on the home dashboard on your Xbox One.

The games are also available at a discount (see below) so you can continue playing while keeping your Gamerscore and achievements earned in-game.

NBA 2K19

Whether you’re on Team Giannis or Team LeBron, make the most of NBA All-Star Weekend and hit the court! In this critically acclaimed basketball video game, unlock special moves with the new Takeover feature, create your very own MyPLAYER card in MyTEAM, or run the neighborhood with live events on the block. With an all-new narrative in MyCAREER, fans can go from neighborhood legend to global phenomenon and live out their NBA dreams.

Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege

Jump in to this intense, tactical shooter where explosive action awaits you! Work as a team and put your strategies and tactics to work against the opposition. In combat, you will have access to an array of weapons, gadgets, and operators to defeat your enemies and their surrounding environment. With Rainbow Six Siege, expect an evolving experience with new content, maps, balancing changes, and more.

This weekend, you can also tune in to Mixer to watch the third annual Six Invitational, the most prestigious tournament in the Siege esports calendar, streaming live from Montreal at https://mixer.com/rainbow6. Programming highlights include:

  • The Grand Final of the tournament on Sunday
  • Live broadcast premiere of the Rainbow Six esports documentary: “To Win It All: The Road to the Six Invitational”
  • Full reveal of Operation Burnt Horizon, the next season of new content set in Australia

Don’t miss out on this weekend’s great games! Learn more about Free Play Days here and stay tuned to Xbox Wire to find out about future Free Play Days and all the latest news on Xbox.

The Evoland Series: From Game Jam Project to Worldwide Success

Hello, time traveler! I’m Nicolas, lead game developer at Shiro Games, a French independent studio. We released Evoland and Evoland 2 on PC few years ago and we’re now introducing the Evoland Legendary Edition on Xbox One which includes both titles!

The initial concept of Evoland was imagined during a Game Jam (Ludum Dare #24). The theme of this Game Jam was evolution. We had the idea of creating a game which would evolve through its structure rather than through its content. From there, we worked on building a full game and because a large part of the team is formed by retro-gaming enthusiasts, Evoland‘s core concept is based on nostalgia, and Evoland 2 allowed us to explore more gameplay mechanics and graphic designs. For this game, we created four different eras, the antiquity (old Gameboy style), the past (NES), the Present (SNES), and the Future (N64).

Evoland Legendary Edition

Evoland Legendary Edition

The games are designed to be fun yet challenging adventures! You’ll find everything that made you love old-school adventure/RPG games (turn-based combat, tactical maps, collectibles, etc..) with a deep and interesting story.

Evoland Legendary Edition

Evoland Legendary Edition

Evoland Legendary Edition takes you on an epic adventure through space and time exploring the history of famous video game genres. As you progress through this epic adventure your game will evolve. You may start in a 2D environment, playing a classic “Final Fantasy-like” RPG and see yourself transported to a 3D shoot-them-up or a side scrolling Double Dragon-type of game!

There is a lot of mystery around the main character himself. Pay attention to the little details of the story, you will be able to pick up bits of information from the very first moment of gameplay to the very end, and try to piece together his real story. There are a few interesting views from various players who have crafted possible theories about our hero’s past, which could even be his future in some cyclic interpretations!

Evoland Legendary Edition

Evoland Legendary Edition

We really appreciate you reading this introduction to the Evoland Legendary Edition! We can’t wait for you to be able to experience this epic adventure on Xbox One. We truly hope you’ll love playing the game as much as we loved making it!

R.B.I. Baseball 19 Coming to Xbox One March 5, Pre-Order Today

Today is an exciting day for MLB fans. Not only are pitchers and catchers reporting for Spring Training, but R.B.I. Baseball 19 will launch March 5 on Xbox One and is available for pre-order on the Microsoft Store. Baseball is back, Spring is right around the corner, and we’re even closer to Opening Day! We’re also excited to unveil the R.B.I. 19 intro video with music featuring “Warrior” by Evaride that you can watch above.

In case you missed the news over the last few weeks, we revealed Houston Astros third-baseman Alex Bregman as our cover star & Toronto Blue Jays second baseman and shortstop Lourdes Gurriel Jr. as our Canadian cover star.

R.B.I. Baseball 19

R.B.I. Baseball 19

R.B.I. Baseball 19

R.B.I. Baseball 19

With R.B.I. Baseball 19, fans can enjoy new additions and improvements across all aspects of the game with a genuine MLB experience, heightened authenticity, and incredible depth including the ability to manage your MLB franchise across multiple seasons, hundreds of new animations, updated player models, every official 2019 uniform, more player gear, improved ball physics, and enhanced environments!

R.B.I. Baseball 19R.B.I. Baseball 19

For more information on R.B.I. Baseball 19, follow @RBIGAME on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

R.B.I. Baseball 19 is available for pre-order today on Xbox One via the Microsoft Store. It will launch on Xbox One March 5. Click here for more details.

Pipe Push Paradise’s Puzzle Purgatory Comes to Xbox One

Hey! I’m Corey Martin. My pal Teodoro Zamudio and I made a small open-world puzzle game called Pipe Push Paradise, which I’m very excited to say will be available to download for Xbox One today! ‘Thinky’ puzzle games so seldom get console releases, and I’m proud to be a small part of changing that.

Pipe Push Paradise is something of a throwback to old DOS classics like Sokoban and Pipe Dream (aka Pipe Mania), extruded into 3D. It’s also heavily inspired by modern puzzle games such as The Witness, Stephen’s Sausage Roll, and A Good Snowman is Hard to Build. As Pipe Push Paradise’s designer, it was very important to me to explore the game’s system thoroughly and obsessively, to present the player with strictly unique puzzles, and to make a lean, difficult game that’s full of surprising ideas.

Pipe Push Paradise

Pipe Push Paradise

The basic premise is simple – you arrive on a small island (setting your puzzle game on an island makes it 10% better, I don’t make the rules), the plumbing is a mess and it’s your job to fix it. You do so by physically rolling pipes around, and rolling them can cause… well, surprising outcomes. For most puzzles, its immediately clear what shape you need to make, and getting there is the tricky part. In others, finding the shape you need to make can seem literally impossible (it’s not!).

Making this game was a pretty obsessive labour of love. When I first started making the puzzles, I’d just throw elements around randomly and see if it was challenging. The thing you eventually realize is that difficulty is not what makes a puzzle interesting, it’s completely peripheral. Any puzzle worth making illustrates a truth about the game’s system. That’s something you extremely rarely get from randomness. It comes from exploring and discovering the system yourself, finding something cool, then manufacturing a puzzle that forces the player to discover that truth as well.

Pipe Push Paradise

Pipe Push Paradise

I got some crucial advice along the way from game designer Alan Hazelden (co-creator of Cosmic Express, A Good Snowman is Hard to Build, and Sokobond) who said I should be able to clearly verbalize the idea or concept of any given puzzle. If I can’t explain what makes a puzzle unique, or my language starts to meander, it’s probably not a very special puzzle. It may seem like an obvious point, but it was a completely heartbreaking revelation for me. Setting that standard made me literally cut half of the game. As a result, there’s no filler in Pipe Push Paradise and you have Alan to thank for it.

As for whether you’ll like this game, it mostly depends on whether you’re ok with getting stuck. You’re supposed to get stuck! It’s hard. Some people feel judged by puzzle games, and I get that. I can tell you as its designer that I absolutely want you to finish this game. I have lots of stuff to show you, so don’t give up!

Pipe Push Paradise is available now for Xbox One and can be purchased from the Microsoft Store.

This Week on Xbox: February 8, 2019

We know you’re busy and might miss out on all the exciting things we’re talking about on Xbox Wire every week. If you’ve got a few minutes, we can help remedy that. We’ve pared down the past week’s news into one easy-to-digest article for all things Xbox! Or, if you’d rather watch than read, you can feast your eyes on our weekly video show above. Be sure to come back every Friday to find out what’s happening This Week on Xbox!

Play Apex Legends, a Free-to-Play Battle Royale from the Makers of Titanfall 2
Apex Legends is a free-to-play battle royale game where legendary competitors fight for glory, fame, and fortune on the fringes of the Frontier. To win in the Apex Games you’ll need to stay sharp, use your wits, and keep your friends close. But victory also favors the prepared, and a few helpful tips in your pocket can be the difference between defeat and… Read more

Safer Internet Day 2019: Our Continued Commitment to Safe, Welcoming and Inclusive Xbox Gaming
In honor of Safer Internet Day 2019, I’ll be joining students and leaders from Google and Facebook on today’s Youth & Tech Industry Issues in Perspective panel starting at 1:30 p.m. PST. Together, we will share our thoughts on the tough questions around technology, online engagement and living in a connected world. At Xbox, positive online experiences… Read more

Wargroove

Wargroove

Wargroove Tips and Tricks
Everyone at Chucklefish is blown away by the response to Wargroove. It’s been truly fantastic! That said, we know the game can get pretty tough, so we’re here to offer you some tips. We hope they help you on your way to becoming a groovy Commander! Knowledge is Power Each unit in Wargroove is unique, with unique stats, abilities, and critical hit conditions… Read more

The Official Monster AMA Supercross Championship Game is Back
Monster Energy Supercross The Official Videogame 2 will give you the chance to live like a pro rider, managing all the aspects of the life inside and outside the track! And as an Xbox One X Enhanced title we support an improved shadow quality, an overall post process effects quality that has been enhanced, and we improved FX quality… Read more

Spacelords Hero Image

Spacelords Hero Image

Community Achievement Unlocked: Aneska Joins the Spacelords
Ever since Spacelords launched as a free to play adventure in shooter form, the MercurySteam development team understood that the game’s unique proposition would attract a particular kind of player — one who wanted to experiment something beyond the more traditional formulas found in the genre. We have always maintained… Read more

Pumped BMX Pro Available Today on Xbox One and with Xbox Game Pass
Hello, Xbox Wire readers! We’re proud to announce that Pumped BMX Pro available now on Xbox One and with Xbox Game Pass. Pumped BMX Pro is a trick-based BMX game which has you riding and grinding your way through 60 levels of ever increasing difficulty, each with its own challenges and feats to complete… Read more

Free Play Days February 7 Hero Image

Free Play Days February 7 Hero Image

Free Play Days: The Sims 4, Halo: The Master Chief Collection, and Fishing Sim World
Having trouble deciding what to play this weekend? Here’s this weekend’s Free Play Days event to help make it simple for you! Xbox Live Gold members can play The Sims 4, Halo: The Master Chief Collection, and Fishing Sim World for free as part of the Free Play Days event. Express your creativity with your Sims… Read more

39 Days to Mars Available Now on Xbox One
Pack your tea-cosy, oil your Penny-Farthing, and hold on to your Top Hat, because: 39 Days to Mars is out now on Xbox One! It’s been a long journey to get to this point, and after five years of development, hundreds of hours of play-testing, and thousands of hand-drawn sketches, it’s unbelievably exciting to see 39 Days to Mars launch on Xbox One… Read more

A Plague Tale: Innocence Hero Image

A Plague Tale: Innocence Hero Image

A Plague Tale: Innocence Takes You Behind the Scenes in an Emotional New Webseries
A Plague Tale: Innocence, the new title from Asobo Studio, will release May 14 on Xbox One. You take the role of Amicia, a young girl in medieval France, navigating an infected and war-torn world while trying to protect her younger brother Hugo. Swarms of rats lurk in the dark while the mysterious Inquisition pursues them constantly… Read more

Play For Honor’s Wu Lin Faction for Free During the Weeklong Hero Trial
For Honor players who’ve held off on unlocking the four Heroes of the Wu Lin faction can see what they’ve been missing starting today on Xbox One, when a new Hero Trial will make them temporarily available for use on the battlefield. Xbox Live Gold members who already own For Honor on Xbox One will be able to play as the Tiandi… Read more

Salt and Sanctuary Hero Image

Salt and Sanctuary Hero Image

Salt and Sanctuary and the Salt That Nearly Was
At long last, Salt and Sanctuary is coming to Xbox One! Our 2D souls-like of deadly monsters, labyrinthine dungeons, and shattered heroes may be our studio’s fourth big game, but it’s our first title to grace Xbox One. Over a decade ago, when the studio was just me, I was lucky enough to get my big break when I was awarded… Read more

The Full List of Crackdown 3 Achievements Revealed
The boom is nearly upon us, as Crackdown 3 will be releasing on Xbox One on February 15. We’ve taken good looks at everything from the single-player campaign to the over-the-top multiplayer of Wrecking Zone, but there’s one thing we haven’t revealed yet: the game’s achievements. On today’s episode of Inside Xbox… Read more

ID@Xbox Sports Games Hero Image

ID@Xbox Sports Games Hero Image

Enjoy Great Discounts During the ID@Xbox Sports Spectacular Sale
In case you didn’t get enough excitement from this year’s big game, the ID@Xbox team has you covered. We have pulled together some of our favorite indie sports games and put them on sale! From now through February 11 you can save up to 60% on over 40 action packed sports games in the Indie Sports Spectacular sale… Read more

Crackdown 3 Wrecking Zone Technical Test Coming on February 7 for Xbox Insiders
We’re just a little over a week away from the launch of Crackdown 3, and we couldn’t be more excited for fans to dive back in to the over-the-top world of Crackdown that is coming to Xbox Game Pass on February 15. As the team moves full steam toward launch, we will be conducting a technical test of Wrecking Zone… Read more

X018 Hero Image

X018 Hero Image

Inside Xbox February Episode News Recap
Today, on our February episode of Inside Xbox, we gave fans a closer look at the highly anticipated Xbox One exclusive Crackdown 3, talked to the creative talent behind Tom Clancy’s The Division 2, revealed new titles coming soon to Xbox Game Pass like Shadow of the Tomb Raider and de blob, unveiled a hot new Xbox One controller… Read more

Friends Play Free In Sea of Thieves February 6-13
Show your crew the ropes and set sail for adventure! Filled with thrills, spills and the best kind of shenanigans, few things in life are more enjoyable than crewing up with friends in Sea of Thieves. If you’ve never had the pleasure, then this is for you – over the coming week we’re letting every Sea of Thieves player invite three friends to join the fun… Read more

Xbox Game Pass - February 2019 Update Hero Image

Xbox Game Pass - February 2019 Update Hero Image

Xbox Game Pass: Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Crackdown 3, Pumped BMX Pro, and More in February
Hi, Xbox Game Pass friends! It’s time for another drop of games coming your way. In case you hadn’t already cried when you realized that your backlog of video games has grown that much larger, my apologies. And if you’re going to cry on the controller, make it player 2’s controller please. We’re taking you deep this time around… Read more

Kick Your Style up a Notch with the Xbox Wireless Controller – Sport Red Special Edition
Bring your ABXY game with the new Xbox Wireless Controller – Sport Red Special Edition. Whether you’re gearing up for a new Xbox Game Pass Quest or bringing some extra flair to your next Mixer stream, this vibrant, bold controller will make a statement. Inspired by the world of active wear and sports lifestyle, the Xbox Wireless Controller… Read more

Halo: Outpost Discovery

Halo: Outpost Discovery

Become A Hero At Halo: Outpost Discovery
One of our favorite things about the Halo franchise are the many ways to experience its rich setting – from the games themselves to the dozens of novels, live-action and animated films, comics and more, that have been created and crafted over almost two decades. Today, we’re excited to give fans a brand-new way to experience and immerse themselves… Read more

Introducing Xbox Game Studios
At Xbox, we believe when everyone plays, we all win. It’s why we’re passionate about building a portfolio of games for players across console, PC and mobile. As we’ve expanded our focus beyond the console, the Xbox brand has also evolved from its original roots. Today, Xbox is our gaming brand across all devices, no matter how or where you want to play… Read more

Unleash Your Power with the Xbox One S Anthem Bundle
After being revealed at this weekend’s basketball game that featured two of the court’s biggest franchises and stars, Xbox partnered with publisher Electronic Arts to show off the Xbox One S Anthem Bundle. In Anthem, you will be able to assemble your high-tech, hand-crafted Javelin exosuit to explore vast ruins, battle deadly enemies and claim otherworldly artifacts… Read more

OpTic Gaming Makes Dramatic Run to Take Home Another Title
With a massive player pool, thousands of rabid cheering fans and some of the best Gears Esports gameplay ever, the Gears Pro Circuit Mexico City Open went down as a highlight for both players and fans alike. OpTic Gaming proved their championship mettle with a dramatic run that ended with taking down Denial Esports in a dominating fashion to claim the $200,000 prize pool… Read more

New Alpha and Alpha Skip Ahead 1904 build coming today 2/8/19

Starting at 2:00 p.m. PST today, members of the Xbox One Preview Skip Ahead and Preview Alpha Rings will begin receiving the latest 1904 Xbox One system update (19h1_release_xbox_dev_1904.190206-1920). Read on for more about the fixes and known issues in the latest 1904 system update.   For the next few releases we will keep Alpha Skip Ahead and Alpha builds in sync to test core functionality.

Fixes:

Skype

  • We have fixed the issue with Skype crashing when starting a video call or conversation.

System

  • Captive portal fixes.
  • Localization fixes.

Known Issues:

Disney Adventures

  • We are tracking an issue that this title is crashing on launch.

Broadcasting on Mixer or Twitch

  • We are tracking an issue that causes broadcasting to fail with both Mixer and Twitch.
  • This happens if you attempt to start Mixer or Twitch broadcast with Kinect/webcam captured content sharing turned off.  This privacy setting is at:  Account \ Privacy & online safety \ Xbox Live privacy \ View details & customize \ Game content \ “You can share content made using Kinect or another camera”.  The workaround is to turn this setting to “Allow”

Netflix

  • We are tracking an issue with the Netflix app.  When you are playing 4k content and then pause and place the console in connected standby upon relaunching the Netflix app when starting you console back up the Netflix app crashes.  Workaround:  Close and relaunch the Netflix app.  Some users have also found if they change the console display resolution from 4K to 1080p then launch the app.  After the app launch change the console display back to 4k.

Profile Color

  • Sometimes users may encounter the incorrect Profile color when powering on the console.

Wargroove Tips and Tricks

Everyone at Chucklefish is blown away by the response to Wargroove. It’s been truly fantastic! That said, we know the game can get pretty tough, so we’re here to offer you some tips. We hope they help you on your way to becoming a groovy Commander!

Wargroove

Wargroove

Knowledge is Power

Each unit in Wargroove is unique, with unique stats, abilities, and critical hit conditions. Make sure you brush up on your unit knowledge by making good use of the tile info and codex. You can access the codex in the game directly from the tile info screen.

Critical Hits Are King

Critical hits are a very unique part of battles in Wargroove. Each unit has a critical hit condition that boosts their damage in a major way! Make sure you’re always thinking about the best way to set up critical hits and you’ll overpower even the strongest battalions.

Wargroove

Wargroove

Get into the Groove

Each Commander has access to an incredibly powerful Groove ability. These abilities are often powerful enough to turn the tide of battle if used correctly. Make sure you’re building your Groove quickly by finishing off units with the Commander and look for the optimum moment to unleash your Groove!

Finding Balance

Your Commander is both your most powerful unit and your biggest weakspot. Don’t be afraid to use your Commander aggressively to advance and build up Groove meter quickly. Make sure the Commander always has an escape route available and be careful not to overextend.

Wargroove

Wargroove

When All Else Fails…

If you get stuck, remember there are difficulty sliders in the game’s menu! You can always come back to a tough mission later and try something new.

With these tips, we hope you’ll be well on your way to strategic victory on the battlefield! If you haven’t picked up Wargroove yet, it’s out now on Xbox One and Windows 10.

Free Play Days: The Sims 4, Halo: The Master Chief Collection, and Fishing Sim World

Having trouble deciding what to play this weekend? Here’s this weekend’s Free Play Days event to help make it simple for you! Xbox Live Gold members can play The Sims 4, Halo: The Master Chief Collection, and Fishing Sim World for free as part of the Free Play Days event. Express your creativity with your Sims, battle it out in the epic Halo saga, and immerse yourself in an authentic fishing simulator without the sea sickness.

The event begins on Thursday, February 7 at 12:01 a.m. PT and runs through to Sunday, February 10 at 11:59 p.m. PT. Start by finding and installing the games here. To download on console, click on the Gold member area on the home dashboard.

The games will also be available at a discount (see below) so you can continue playing while keeping your Gamerscore and achievements earned in-game.

  • The Sims 4 ($39.99 SRP): up until 2/11, The Sims’ anniversary sale is on! Get up to 80% off The Sims 4 base game and 50% off select expansion packs.
    • North America base game discount – 80% off: $8.00
    • ROW base game discount – 60% off: $16.00
  • Halo: The Master Chief Collection ($29.99 SRP) at 25% off: $22.49
    • Note: only Halo: The Master Chief Collection Digital Bundle is on sale and for purchase.
  • Fishing Sim World ($19.99 SRP) at 25% off: $14.99


The Sims 4

If you’ve been tempted to pick up The Sims 4, now’s the time! Create unique Sims by choosing their distinct appearances, personalities, senses of style, and life goals. Design and decorate the perfect home, down to every last throw pillow. Develop your Sims’ relationships, pursue new careers, and create and control the moments of their lives. Explore beautiful worlds with realistic environments and travel to neighborhoods, meeting other interesting Sims along the way. How will you play with life?

Halo: The Master Chief Collection

The Master Chief Collection brings the legendary journey of Spartan 117 to the Xbox One. Relive the Master Chief’s saga with a single integrated experience that spans four classic games from Halo: Combat Evolved through Halo 4. Or, take the fight online and battle others in Halo’s legendary multiplayer from all four games. Whether you’re a new recruit or a Halo veteran, The Master Chief Collection offers the best of classic Halo all on the powerful Xbox One platform.

Fishing Sim World

Catch that fish of a lifetime on stunning lakes from around the world. The thrill of driving your boat across vast US lakes to the adrenaline from bass trying to escape your lure. From the tranquil beauty of famous European carp and predator venues to the sound of a screaming bite alarms, Fishing Sim World has your angling covered. Fish the way you want using hundreds of items of licensed equipment and take on the 25 different species of fish. Unleash your competitive streak in our online multiplayer or the Dovetail Fishing league where you can take on players from all around the world!

Don’t miss out on this weekend’s great games! Learn more about Free Play Days here and stay tuned to Xbox Wire to find out about future Free Play Days and all the latest news on Xbox.

Salt and Sanctuary and the Salt That Nearly Was

At long last, Salt and Sanctuary is coming to Xbox One! Our 2D souls-like of deadly monsters, labyrinthine dungeons, and shattered heroes may be our studio’s fourth big game, but it’s our first title to grace Xbox One.

Over a decade ago, when the studio was just me, I was lucky enough to get my big break when I was awarded a publishing contract to bring The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai to Xbox Live Arcade. Since then, Ska Studios has doubled in size! Over the next 6 years, we’d release The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile, Charlie Murder, I MAED A GAM3 W1TH Z0MB1ES 1N IT!!!1, ZP2KX, and who knows what else on Xbox 360; sometimes on XBLA, sometimes on XBLIG.

Salt and Sanctuary

Salt and Sanctuary

And today, the great folks at Blitworks have done a fine job of bringing the game in all its gloomy glory to Xbox One. But now that we’ve returned at last to Xbox, I thought I’d share a tale of the game Salt and Sanctuary might have been.

I started writing what would become Salt and Sanctuary as far back as 2012, while finishing up Charlie Murder, which we would launch on Xbox 360 in 2013. At some point I envisioned it as a procedurally generated roguelike, and as I look at my codebase now, I see the game still has some commented-out code and some excluded classes to enable that functionality (no one’s ever accused me of being a tidy programmer). One idea that I was considering was for the game’s protagonists to be drawn from a procedurally generated shipwrecked crew of a Nordic-style viking longship exploring the procedurally generated world. Your crew might have 2 mages, 3 archers, 1 fighter, and so on; how would you tackle the world?

Salt and Sanctuary

Salt and Sanctuary

I ended up totally walking away from procedural generation. The expression I like to talk myself out of the appeal of limitless procedural generation is, “when everything is random, nothing is.” We’re pattern recognizing mammals, and without realizing it, we’re probably as good at cataloguing procedural generation algorithms as we are at remembering the layout of a fixed map. And the procedural crew idea was problematic: does the crew replenish, or is it a fixed pool to keep the tension high? Would it be overly frustrating to arrive at the end with only the “worst” crew available? How do you solve the narrative problem of sending out the crew one by one like a horror movie trope?

This was around when our Dark Souls obsession flew into full swing. I had been a huge fan of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, but like many gamers, I had begun to notice a trend in the ensuing years toward tutorials, checkpoints, objective markers; form over function, all of it focus tested into palatable mush. And when Dark Souls came out, I’ll admit I didn’t “get it” initially. But it clicked in time: the solitude, the agency, the layers of depth concealed by obscurity, the relentless difficulty — these were things once integral to games, driven away by years of simplification in the name of minimizing frustration. Minimizing frustration is a good thing! But at some point, it became doctrine. Dark Souls bucked the trend, and gamers rejoiced.

Salt and Sanctuary

Salt and Sanctuary

I hadn’t been won over by the procedural prototype yet, and I had begun to wonder, “would a Dark Souls style game work in 2D?” And thus, the procedural stuff was scrapped, and a big new experiment commenced! The combat took after The Dishwasher (no one ever comments on this!), but with a more deliberate pace. The loot system from Charlie Murder was heavily adapted. Some more ambitious systems were scrapped, like a weapon upgrade system that would unlock super moves at higher tiers. The sanctuary system was probably more ambitious than its final form, but I’m still really happy with it: I like populating my cozy little hubs!

I know it’s a cliché way to close out, but I really did have a blast making Salt and Sanctuary. If this is your first time playing it, I only hope enjoy it half as much as I did making it. The Salt that Nearly Was may have been relegated to the recycling bin of game development history, but if you’d like to turn my Viking longship idea into reality, go for it!

Salt and Sanctuary is available now for Xbox One on the Microsoft Store. Click here for purchase details.

OpTic Gaming Makes Dramatic Run to Take Home Another Title

With a massive player pool, thousands of rabid cheering fans and some of the best Gears Esports gameplay ever, the Gears Pro Circuit Mexico City Open went down as a highlight for both players and fans alike.

OpTic Gaming proved their championship mettle with a dramatic run that ended with taking down Denial Esports in a dominating fashion to claim the $200,000 prize pool. This is the second time OpTic Gaming has come back from the “losers” bracket to steal the victory – once again showing why they are easily the most dominant force in Gears Esports history.

While OpTic Gaming took home the trophy, the story of the weekend was the newly formed Ghost Gaming roster. This top Latin American squad features some of the best players from the region led by Daniel “Identivez” Santillana. Their surprise third place showing was fueled by aggressive gameplay and the unbridled enthusiasm and constant chanting of the hometown crowd.

Season 2 of the Gears Pro Circuit will conclude this spring – stay tuned for the announcement of the season finale location and date. For more information about Gears Esports, please visit www.gears.gg and follow us on Twitter @EsportsGears.