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Xbox and Bethesda showcase upcoming video games, the Last of Us Part 1 is getting a remake.

Xbox and Bethesda show off some games in annual showcase event

In an online broadcast last week, Xbox and Bethesda, now part of the same organization, showed off what’s coming for Xbox consoles and Windows game systems.

In opening the show, which in past years would have been presented live in L.A. as part of the larger E3 extravaganza, Xbox head of global gaming Sarah Bond said that everything that was being talked about would be released “in the next 12 months”.

And while that may be true, it’s also true that a lot of what was shown isn’t coming until 2023.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t games coming to the Xbox platform.

A major announcement that came early was that free to play games from Riot are coming to Xbox Game Pass. The benefit to subscribers is that the characters and agents from the games – League of Legends, League of Legends: Wild Rift, Valorant – are unlocked, whereas they would have to be earned by playing or paying.

There’s also a strange, first-person shooter game called High On Life that comes from Rick & Morty co-creator Justin Roiland in which the weapons you wield are sentient creatures called Gatlians.

It looks trippy and absurd and ridiculous and it’s coming this October.

We also saw some of Diablo IV in which we were introduced to the necromancer class. And we learned that in addition to Windows, the game will also be coming to Xbox consoles. It arrives next year.

And there’s Minecraft Legends is a new action strategy game being co-developed by Vancouver’s Blackbird Interactive.

The show ended with an extended look at Starfield, the space exploration role-playing game from Bethesda that is expected to release next year. In the 15-minute trailer, which showed actual gameplay, including exploration, combat, and storytelling.

Your character gets recruited into Constellation, a group of explorers trying to make sense of some strange artifacts.

In the video, studio head Todd Howard explained that the world will include some 1,000 worlds to explore in more than 100 systems.

As you explore, you’ll be able to build outposts and spaceships, hiring staff and crew, and customizing things to your liking. And the ships you build you will be able to fly and take into battles.

I will also note that every game that was shown during the event will be coming to the Xbox Game Pass library.

You can watch the entire event here.

What the remake of The Last of Us, Part 1 tells us about the game industry

One of the announcements at Summer Game Fest was that Naughty Dog is completely remaking The Last of Us, the 2013 game originally developed for the PS3.

The game, which is now known as Part 1, was remastered for PS4 and released in 2014, and you can play that game on PS5.

Why, then, would Naughty Dog and Playstation rework an existing game again? There are a couple of reasons.

First, in case you didn’t know, HBO has a television series based on the game, which has been shooting in Calgary and southern Alberta, that is expected to air next year.

More importantly, though, is how valuable it can be to a studio to remake something that has already proven to be a success.

If there’s any chance that the resource cost to remake The Last of Us Part 1 will be recovered – and that’s easy math, to be honest – the training opportunities alone make it worth the time and effort, as was pointed out by journalist Arthur Gies.

This is not a new thing, either. When producer Rod Fergusson, who helped create the Gears of War franchise, came to Vancouver to lead the team making Gears of War after Microsoft purchased it from Epic, he told me that having the team work on a remake of the original game was a way to make them experts in Gears of War.

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There’s no question Vancouver is a beautiful city, and now you can jog through the most scenic places in the city with the latest Time to Run experience from Apple Fitness+.

The route was set by Apple trainer Sherica Holmon, who also leads cycling sessions for Apple, and it cruises along Vancouver’s famous seawall along False Creek to where it ends at Science World, then along the south bank past Olympic Village, Granville Island, and ending at the beach in Kitsilano.

Apple Fitness+ is a service created for Apple Watch owners, and the Time to Run activities are only one of more than a dozen different things you can do with a subscription ($13 a month, $99 a year, or part of an Apple services bundle), including guided walks, meditation, and numerous types of workouts.

The Vancouver run is accompanied by a playlist featuring Canadian artists including Shawn Mendes and Tegan & Sarah, with tracks selected to match the intensity of the intervals.

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At this year’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference, Apple unveiled the M2 chip which is in two new Macbook computers, talked about updates to the various Apple operating systems, and gave us a sneak peek at updates coming to the Apple ecosystem’s Home and Carplay apps. Plus, ElectricGo will rent you a powerbank short term.

Apple reveals new M2 processor, updates to software and services at Worldwide Developer’s Conference

At this year’s edition of Apple’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference, the company showed off the M2 chip, a second-generation version of the silicon that is being used in its computers.

The M1 chip, which has been in use since 2020, is notable for its power, speed, and energy efficiency. The M2, according to the company, is even faster, more powerful, and more efficient.

The new M2 is going into a new Macbook Air and Macbook Pro 13-inch, both of which will be in the wild starting in July.

Operating system updates

There are also the expected changes coming to the various operating systems that run Apple devices.

  • iOS 16: more customization options for lock screens, widgets, and notifications
  • iPadOS 16: Stage Manager for multiple windows, drag-and-drop files between your Apple devices
  • MacOS Venture: Stage Manager, use your iPhone as a webcam
  • WatchOS 9: Medications app helps you track your daily med intake)

Apple Home and Carplay are getting refreshed

What was more intriguing, though, were the demos of updates that are coming to Apple’s larger ecosystem.

Apple Home, which is part of iOS 16, will give us more control over the devices that we may be using for home automation, and more importantly provide a user interface overhaul to make the app easier to use,

Apple has also been working to build out the Carplay experience. I’ve got quibbles with the existing app, but see great possibility here.

It looks like Apple is bringing a consistent interface to the screens in our vehicles. We’ll also have control over how the information will be presented to us. Kind of like how I can change what information my Apple Watch shows me and how it displays that information.

It’s the user interface and user experience expertise that Apple can bring to the vehicle cockpit that I think is really valuable. I don’t believe that most major auto manufacturers have invested sufficiently in making the instrument panels understandable.

ElectricGo gives you a part-time on-the-go power solution

If your phone is running out of power you may be screwed, even if you have an adapter and a charging cable with you. To get more electricity into your phone, you need to find an outlet and stand by it for as long as you need.

ElectricGo aims to solve this problem by putting kiosks in popular locations where you can rent a fully charged power bank. The idea is that you pop out the portable charger – which is equipped with whatever cable you might need – and you take it with you when you’re on the move.

When you’re done charging, you just find another ElectricGo kiosk where you can return the bank, which then charges up to be used by the next person.

You pay for the amount of time you’ve had the charging bank signed out, $1.50 an hour up to a maximum of $6 a day.

The company has 120 stations set up in Victoria and metro Vancouver right now, in pubs and restaurants.

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Blizzard’s newest Diablo game is made for mobile, Frogger’s latest incarnation is a bust, Resident Evil 4 is being remade for PS5 and the Callisto Protocol promises scares for your Playstation, Bioware’s next Dragon Age game is called Dreadwolf.

Diablo Immortal brings the dungeon crawler to mobile

The Diablo games from Blizzard are dungeon crawling, role playing game staples. Immortal marks the first time that the series has appeared on mobile devices (Android; iOS), and the game is indistinguishable from its cousins that you can play on consoles and computers.

Your experience will vary depending on what device you’re playing on, but overall, playing Immortal is just like playing any other Diablo game. You choose your character from the usual roster of D&D tropes and you run around the fantasy-imbued spaces – dungeons, graveyards, castles, swamps – mashing your controller to slay the waves of enemies you encounter.

Pick up loot, equip the best gear, level up and get more powerful. Repeat.

It’s wildly entertaining, and I love that I can play on my iPhone or iPad (or Android phone or tablet).

You can even connect a game controller to your device so you don’t need to navigate with a thumb on your screen, but bear in mind that there are touch screen interactions that you’ll still need to make.

You can also play Immortal on a Windows computer, and if you’ve got a Blizzard Battle.net account you can play across your devices, picking up on your computer where you left off on your phone.

The only thing that really sets out Immortal as a mobile game is that it’s free to download and play, and that you can spend real money for cosmetics and to speed up your progression through the game.

But if you’re used to ignoring those prompts – and what mobile gamer isn’t these days? – you won’t even notice. Just enjoy.

Frogger makes an appearance on your iPhone

The OG video game hopper is on Apple Arcade in Frogger and the Rumbling Ruins, but the game may not be what you’re expecting.

Frogger is no longer trying to navigate the highways and byways of the metropolis, but in this game is something of an Indiana Jones analogue trying to navigate through, well, ruins.

What you’ll be doing here is manipulating the buildings and pathways of the ruins so that Frogger can access the level’s exit. You can collect gems along the way because that’s what mobile games do these days.

And for some reason there’s a narrative here, about some dark nefarious being imprisoning frogs.

If you’re an Apple Arcade subscriber, it doesn’t cost you anything to give Frogger and the Rumbling Ruins a try, but if you want a better experience with the same game mechanics, you should go to Monument Valley+ and Monument Valley 2+ from ustwo, both of which are also on Apple Arcade.

Playstation lays out the releases coming soon to your PS5 and PS4 consoles

We’re entering announcement season, and Sony got the jump on things with its State of Play presentation last week (which you can watch right here).

Among the games announced and discussed were Resident Evil 4, a remake of the 2005 survival horror game. Capcom isn’t simply remastering the graphics, here. They are “reimagining the storyline of the game while keeping the essence of its direction”. This one releases on December 2.

Then there’s The Callisto Protocol, another action horror game. This one comes from Striking Distance Studios, and if you watch this trailer and you’ve ever played Dead Space, you won’t be suprised to learn that Glen Schofield, who heads the studio, was the creator of the Dead Space franchise for Electronic Arts.

Just as violent but with a completely different tone is Rollerdrome, which is coming in August. This one is best understood by watching the trailer.

God of War added to Playstation Plus

Just as we’re about to transition in to the new Playstation subscription program, God of War, the reboot – of sorts – of the action adventure game featuring Kratos in the land of the Norse gods, has been added to PS Plus.

That means you can download and play the game on your PS4 or PS5 if you’ve got a subscription at the Essential level.

Bioware’s new Dragon Age game is called Dreadwolf

Revealed in 2018, the new Dragon Age role-playing game from Edmonton’s Bioware Studios is called Dreadwolf, referring to the character of Solas. He’s described in the release about the game’s name as being “inscrutable … his methods sometimes questionable, earning him a reputation as something of a trickster deity—a player of dark and dangerous games.”

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