This has been an insanely busy week for Microsoft, which most recently peaked with today’s reveal of the next game in the long-standing Halo series. In addition to that, there was more exciting news for everyone, Xbox One and Xbox 360 owners alike, with or without a Gold subscription. June marks the start of some monumental changes regarding Games with Gold, Deals of the Week, and entertainment on Xbox One and Xbox 360. There’s even something out there for those who haven’t quite made the jump to Xbox One.
Xbox One without Kinect
Beginning June 9th, a $399 version of the Xbox One will be available without the Kinect in all areas the Xbox One is already available. Outside of games that require the Kinect, the console will still have the same access to all other titles, entertainment apps, and features such as Live TV. Users will, however, lose access to anything tied to the Kinect, such as biometric sign in, voice commands, motion commands, and other small “features” such as getting a technical in NBA 2K14 when you’re swearing at your TV. Picking this Xbox is really a full commitment right now, as the Kinect is not currently available as a standalone unit. It can only be speculated that it will launch with a price around $150 much like its predecessor did. As of right now, the only thing confirmed is the standalone Kinect will launch sometime this fall.
Changes to Gold
Also starting in June, lots of changes are coming to those with an Xbox Live Gold membership. Taking a nod from PlayStation Plus, Microsoft will offer subscription-based access to titles ranging from the latest blockbusters to indie hits. The first month will kick off with “Max: The Curse of Brotherhood” and “Halo: Spartan Assault.” Included with this is also the free games for the Xbox 360 as well, which is offering up a bonus title to celebrate the one year anniversary. “Dark Souls,” “Charlie Murder,” and “Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition” will all be available free during the month of June.
Deals with Gold will also launch for Xbox One, starting in June, and is set to include “Forza Motorsport 5,” “Ryse: Son of Rome,” and “a few other surprises.” Microsoft also teased savings “up to 50 – 75 percent off certain titles.” Much like Games with Gold, Deals with Gold on Xbox One will be a supplement to the continuing Xbox 360 deals. The Xbox One will launch a “virtual VIP room” exclusive to those with a Gold Subscription which will feature “free games, monthly deals, and other great benefits” although there is no explicit detail on what exactly this all entails.
For those without a Gold Subscription, any Xbox One or Xbox 360 with an internet connection will now have access to most of the entertainment apps on Xbox Live. This means users with a Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime can stream using the Xbox 360 or Xbox One without having to purchase a Gold Subscription. This has been a long-requested feature for many and it’s another great sign that Microsoft is really listening to what the consumer wants.
The pinnacle of Microsoft’s announcement spree came with the naming of the next gen Halo experience. “Halo 5: Guardians” will be the next title in the Reclaimer Saga and the first on Xbox One. 343 Industries has promised that this Halo will bigger and more powerful than the effort that was “Halo 4”. “Halo 5: Guardians” will feature a brand new engine and will be heavily influenced by user feedback and comments from previous titles. It’s currently slated for a “Fall 2015” release window, which will coincide with the “Halo” television series which is being produced by Steven Spielberg. The story will run independent from the game, however there may be the occasional tie-in. More details are to be released during the E3 2014 Media Briefing on June 9 on the “journey” that Halo will be taking. Microsoft has emphasized that this “journey” begins with a “giant leap, rather than one small step.”
Halo: The Master Chief Collection
Perhaps this “giant leap” could be the recently rumored HD collection expected to be called “Halo: The Master Chief Collection.” Although nothing has been confirmed yet by Microsoft, Engadget made a bold claim today stating that they learned about a massive HD collection to be released on the Xbox One which will contain all four of the previous “Halo” titles staring The Master Chief himself. This means it won’t include “Halo Reach,” “Halo Wars,” or any of the other spin-off titles. It’s rumored to be developed by Saber Interactive, the same company that handled “Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary,” as they currently have an unannounced Halo project for Xbox One in the works. There’s no details on what exactly will be included as far as content goes, but it’s guaranteed that it will contain updated graphics for all of the campaigns, and we can only hope the same treatment will be done for multiplayer as well.