Rare’s latest title, Sea of Thieves, lets you live out your pirate fantasy by captaining your own ship, sailing across the sea, and hunting down treasure. However, being a swashbuckler isn’t nearly as exciting if you have to do it alone. Today, Microsoft and Rare announced a new “Friends Play Free” event that allows anyone who owns Sea of Thieves or subscribes to Xbox Game Pass to invite up to three friends to try the pirate game for a limited time.

You can get codes for your friends from February 6 to February 13. To make this event more exciting, Rare is running a limited-time quest to find the treasure of Rum Runner. Those who complete the quest will get special rewards. To get your friends’ codes, head here.

If your friends play the game with you and decide to become permanent members of your crew, Sea of Thieves will be available at a 35 percent discount until February 27. In addition, the team teased that big Sea of Thieves news will hit on the one-year anniversary of its launch, March 20.

Microsoft has announced that its game development organization is rebranding. Starting today, Microsoft Studios is rebranding as Xbox Game Studios. According to corporate vice president of Xbox Game Studios Matt Booty, “Xbox” has become Microsoft’s brand for gaming no matter the device.

This move seems to double down on Microsoft’s recent efforts to bolster its first-party and exclusive games lineup, which has included the recent acquisitions of several third-party studios including Obsidian Entertainment, Ninja Theory, Compulsion Games, and InXile Entertainment.

Xbox Game Studios is made up of the following studios and development groups:

  • 343 Industries
  • The Coalition
  • Compulsion Games
  • The Initiative
  • InXile Entertainment
  • Minecraft
  • Ninja Theory
  • Obsidian Entertainment
  • Playground Games
  • Rare
  • Turn 10 Studios
  • Undead Labs
  • Microsoft’s Global Publishing group

In addition, the post runs down 2019 releases like Crackdown 3, Gears 5, and Ori and the Will of the Wisps, while mentioning that the teams are also working on big content updates for titles like Sea of Thieves, Forza Horizon 4, and Minecraft. The first game under the Xbox Game Studios banner will release next week with Crackdown 3 launching on February 15.

Though it’s been a few years since Halo 5: Guardians released, Master Chief and the Halo franchise remain Microsoft’s most recognizable property. We’re likely still a ways from Halo: Infinite, which was announced at E3 2018, but Microsoft is hoping to keep fans engaged through the new Halo: Outpost Discovery tour. 

The tour is set to come to five American cities this summer, bringing more than 300,000 square feet of activities for aspiring Spartans. Attendees can expect to explore a Halo Ring, see a real-life Warthog, experience some laser tag TDM, and engage in in-universe encounters via an innovative VR attraction. Halo: Outpost Discovery also features themed panels, creator and special guest meet-and-greets, and various community events built around subjects like livestreaming and cosplay. In addition, hundreds of game stations will allow fans to enjoy the latest Xbox game releases.

If you’re a hardcore Halo fan, check the dates of the tour below and begin planning your summer vacation.

  • July 5 – 7 – Orlando, FL
  • July 19 – 21 – Philadelphia, PA
  • August 2 – 4 – Chicago, IL
  • August 16 – 18 – Houston, TX
  • August 30 – September 1 – Anaheim, CA

If you’re not close to one of the cities, don’t fret, as this is being billed as the first year of the tour, meaning it’s likely to expand to more cities next time. For more, head to the official Halo: Outpost Discovery website

During EA’s fiscal earnings call today, CEO Andrew Wilson announced that Battlefield V missed its sales expectations for the holiday quarter.

Wilson attributed Battlefield V’s underperformance to several factors. First was the game’s month-long delay from October 19 to November 20, which pushed the title into a busier holiday season. Wilson also pointed to prioritizing single-player content over Battlefield V’s still unreleased battle-royale mode as a contributing factor to the poor sales. Later in the call, CFO Blake Jorgensen offered specific numbers: Battlefield V has sold 7.3 million copies, putting it 1 million units below the company’s expectations.

That said, EA touted that 27 million players have played Battlefield games over the past year, and that they are committed to “long-term live service” for their players. Battlefield V’s battle royale mode is set to launch in March.

Eclipse Games’ Legendary Eleven doesn’t just go back to a simpler gameplay time for soccer video games, it also mines the sports’ storied past in a non-licensed sports title (Xbox One, Switch, PC via Steam Early Access) based around international teams from the ’70s and ’80s.

The game features 44 countries (with the likes of Algeria, Wales, Czechoslovakia, West/East Germany, USA, Uruguay, and many more) and three main modes: Friendlies, Legendary matches, and Championship. There is also online play (I played the PC edition), but by Eclipse’s own admission, this isn’t very fleshed out at the moment. Local multiplayer is a more viable option if you’re looking to play against others.

The Championship mode centers around the classic group+elimination stages format, and can be enjoyed in either four regional cups or a World cup-like tournament. The Legendary mode, on the other hand, focuses on thrilling moments from the international stage, replicating the Argentina/England “Hand of God” 1986 World Cup quarterfinal (with Armando a stand-in for Maradona), as well as challenging feats such as scoring four goals as the Netherlands against Argentina in 1974.

Click here to watch embedded media

Legendary’s gameplay isn’t fancy, but contains just enough to allow for back-and-forth games with some fun moments. Apart from your usual turbo, deke, and give-go passes, you can also enable optional super shots. These are slightly overpowered, usually unstoppable shots you can unleash after charging up a meter (through good passes, dekes, etc.).

If you’re using them, the game more or less revolves around getting yourself in a position to uncork one of these shots, but the game’s fundamentals don’t provide as solid of a foundation. Players frustratingly struggle to gain possession of through-balls into space as the ball is instead awarded to an opponent, teammate A.I. bunches together too much, teammates don’t pull up to avoid being offsides, and keepers aren’t the smartest bunch.

The one area where the game intrigues me beyond its surface is the stickers you can earn that boost your players. Thirty two of these can be applied to your team (but only four at once), granting them things like bonus attacking skill, a permissive ref, bonus endurance for you midfields, and more. These are earned through completing specific tasks such as winning a specific cup in Championship mode, and they could enable different styles of play. I’d be curious if you could take some of the mid- to lower-rated teams, apply a combination of stickers, and turn them into a counter-attacking force, for instance.

Legendary Eleven is in an in-between position – it’s not a triple-A title like FIFA, but it’s not focused on simulation either. The game contains some hands-on, moment-to-moment fun, but it’s too limited to truly go down in the annals of the sport.

THE TICKER

MLB the Show 19’s Debut Trailer

EA Stops Selling FIFA Ultimate Team Points In Belgium

Spike Volleyball Out Now on PS4, Xbox One & PC

It’s been quite a few years in the making, but Kingdom Hearts III is out and fans across the world are more than a little excited to dive deep into their favorite Disney worlds and keyblade stories. That anticipation built over a decade of waiting has translated into real numbers for Square Enix, which reports that Kingdom Hearts III has shipped five million copies since its release late last month.

There is the shipped/sold distinction here, where this number is officially what Square Enix has sold to retailers, but it is unlikely there is a huge number of games sitting on the shelves forever. It also includes digital numbers, which specifically are numbers for sales to consumers. This makes Kingdom Hearts the fastest selling game in the series, which is impressive for a series whose games have broken records for Square Enix twice before.

Some part of this is also likely because this is the first multiplatform Kingdom Hearts game, not counting remakes or ports. The first two games released exclusively on PlayStation 2, 358/2 Days and Re:Coded on DS, Birth by Sleep on PlayStation Portable, and Dream Drop Distance on the 3DS. For whatever reason, the various remasters and teaser chapter A Fragmentary Passage were only available on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4.

You can read our review of Kingdom Hearts III right here and see a six-year-old’s opinion of the game’s opening here as well.

Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Developer: SIE Bend Studio
Release: April 26, 2019
Rating: Rating Pending
Platform: PlayStation 4

After Days Gone’s delay into April, Sony has used the opportunity to supply tons of footage and info about the game over time. Today, Sony Bend has released a new trailer for the game detailing the many zombie types you will be running from and fighting in Days Gone.

Check out the trailer below.

Click here to watch embedded media

The video also gets into the various ways you’ll be exterminating these different enemies, like substituting a burning crossbow bolt for a molotov in a pinch, or repairing your melee weapons on the fly so you don’t get stuck up the creek without a paddle.

Days Gone releases on PlayStation 4 on April 26.

After the not-quite surprise launch of Apex Legends yesterday, Respawn’s free-to-play battle royale has already developed a sizable fan base. According to a tweet by CEO Vince Zampella, it took less than eight hours for over one million unique players to enlist in the Titanfall spin-off’s winner-takes-all battles.  

So far the reaction to Apex Legends has been mostly positive, with players digging the unique character abilities, three-player squads, and increased focus on teamplay. Associate editor Javy Gwaltney is working on our review of Apex Legends as we speak, and has already outlined everything you need to know and some hot tips for newcomers who are looking for more info.

As for the future of Apex Legends, Respawn has released a brief outline of its year-one roadmap. The first season begins in March, and will last three months. Each season promises to introduce more legends (i.e. unique characters), weapons, and loot. A Fortnite-like battle pass will also be available.

Apex Legends road map

Zampella has also tweeted that Respawn has “tons of things planned” for Apex in the future, as well as “more Titanfall for later in the year.” What that entails is anyone’s guess at this point, but you can expect Javy’s final verdict on Apex Legends later in the week. In the meantime, check out Leo, Tack, and Cork’s archived livestream and read Respawn’s reasoning for not including titans in the game, which I still don’t agree with but whatever.

I’ve only played a few matches of Apex Legends so far, but it feels like a consumer-friendly balance for the free-to-play format, and I’m intrigued by the game’s unique elements. I do hope Apex Legends branches out beyond just a battle royale mode, however, and I’m still waiting for the giant robots to show up – no matter how unbalanced Respawn says it makes matches.

After being teased last month, developer Warhorse Studios today officially released their upcoming DLC for Kingdom Come: Deliverance called Band of Bastards.

You’ll join a group of mercenaries who are tasked with protecting a nobleman, Radzig Kobyla, in his feud against a rival noble family. You won’t be in charge of the group, but the developers do say that you will be responsible for keeping the men from getting out of hand. It’s a rowdy bunch, so you should have your hands full. In addition to the new quest line giving you plenty of combat to grind your teeth on, it will also give you some small tokens like a new armor set to deck out your character with.

Band of Bastards is out now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC for $7.99. If you’re curious, check out the DLC’s trailer here or go here to read our full review of the game.

 

Kingdom Come is notoriously dense, but it has its supporters. For anyone still enjoying their time in its meticulously crafted world, then it’s nice to see Warhorse continuing to support the game.

 

The Outer Worlds is an exciting science-fiction adventure from the creators of the original Fallout, and if you’re a digital subscriber to Game Informer, you can now learn all about the promising title from Obsidian Entertainment. Following today’s cover reveal, our digital issue is now live on web browsers and will be coming to iPad/iPhone later in the day. You can download the apps to view the issue by following this link. All of these digital options are included in a standard subscription.

The issue launches later this week on our third-party subscription apps including Google PlayKindle, and Nook.

Not a digital subscriber yet? Convert your existing print subscription here or start a new subscription here.

Click on the banner below to reach our hub for The Outer Worlds. We’ll be adding new content throughout the month to more fully explore what Obsidian’s new game has to offer.