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by Samuel Axon via Ars Technica

Microsoft has announced that the Xbox One will get 120Hz-display refresh-rate support in a software update for the consoles. Support for higher refresh rates opens the door for smoother gameplay, both in terms of performance and input responsiveness.

In a news post on the Xbox website, Microsoft briefly described the 120Hz feature, along with several other updates, and said they are coming this May. Other coming changes include the ability to group games and apps in new ways for easier browsing of your library, an improved interface for managing family account permissions for parents, a slight overhaul of button commands in the Xbox interface, the ability to trim game capture clips directly from the Guide interface, and improvements to the Xbox Accessories app.

Earlier this year, Microsoft added support for AMD FreeSync 2 to the Xbox One S and Xbox One X. FreeSync is a variable refresh rate (VRR) technology that reduces distracting screen tearing on many displays without impacting game performance. FreeSync, along with 1440p resolution support that was added in the same update (and now 120Hz support), all expand the Xbox One S and Xbox One X’s compatibility with computer monitors. Microsoft is positioning the Xbox One as an alternative to a gaming desktop, even if your preferred setup is in the home office rather than the living room. That said, many TVs also support 120Hz.

Let’s manage some expectations here, though: you won’t be able to play 4K games at 120fps in the upcoming 120Hz update, because the HDMI 2.0 standard used in the Xbox One S and Xbox One X isn’t capable of that. That won’t be possible until HDMI 2.1, which likely won’t be available in consumer TVs or future Xbox models until next year. For now, the Xbox One S and Xbox One X will only support 120Hz at 1080p and 1440p resolutions.

Microsoft’s news post doesn’t clarify whether 120Hz support will come to all Xbox One models or just some, but we’ll be surprised if we see it in the original Xbox One (that is, the one that precedes the more recent S or X models), because the original Xbox One uses HDMI 1.4a, which is even more limiting than 2.0.

It’s also important to note that, while the console itself will support 120Hz, the games won’t necessarily support it. There are benefits to running a game at 60fps on a 120Hz monitor, but game developers will have to update their games to offer 120fps modes to take full advantage of the technology. In most cases, the standard Xbox One and Xbox One S won’t be able to hit that target, but the Xbox One X could manage that at 1080p and 1440p for many games, should developers choose to support it.

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by David Gelmini via Dread Central

Agony looks like one of the most explicit games we’ve ever seen, so it comes as no surprise that it had to be slightly censored in order to avoid an Adults Only rating from the ESRB. Now, before you go bitching about how much you hate censorship, keep in mind that the changes made to the game were minimal, with the camera having to be slightly obscured during some of the most extreme sequences so that it could secure an M-rating.

As AO-rated games are never released on consoles, the version of Agony coming to PS4 and Xbox One will be the slightly altered M-rated edition, whilst the PC version will come with an optional patch to remove the censorship and to experience a fully uncut version of the game.

As anyone familiar with the history of the ESRB will know, this isn’t the first time that a non-pornographic game ventured into Adults Only territory. The Punisher and Manhunt 2 both had to be censored in order to avoid an AO rating, whilst Hatred was released uncut on Steam with the rating intact.

Agony, which takes place in Hell, was developed by Madmind Studio, and will be published by PlayWay later this year.

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by Ben Gilbert via Business Insider

The new “God of War” game is so much fun to play, you may have missed its secret ending.

The PlayStation 4-exclusive is a triumph of storytelling and design, offering dozens of hours of gameplay within its gorgeous version of the mythological Norse realm of Midgard. After the game’s story comes to an end, you may think that’s all there is. And it’s understandable — it’s a satisfying conclusion.

But “God of War” has a Marvel-esque hidden ending, one that you can only unlock after you complete the game’s final story mission and the credits roll. If you were paying attention to the game’s story at all, you’ll be eager to see the secret finale.

Without saying anything about the secret ending itself (no spoilers!), here’s how to unlock it:

After the credits roll, the game informs you that you can return to the open world and continue exploring. But you have another option: Return to the house you started in at the beginning of the game.

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When you get to the house, enter through the front door. Inside, you’ll find a button prompt near the beds of Kratos and Atreus. It’s a small house, so the prompt isn’t hard to find.

Once there, you can choose to go to sleep for the first time since your adventure began. Doing so will trigger the secret ending.

If you care at all about the future of the “God of War” franchise, you’ll be excited to see the hidden finale. Enjoy!

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by Brian Crecente via Variety

Grand Theft Auto V: Premium Online Edition” is now available in stores for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One and hits digital platforms, including for PCs, next week, publisher Rockstar Games announced on Friday. The game will cost $84.99 digitally and $79.99 for the physical version.

The game includes the complete “Grand Theft Auto V” story, “Grand Theft Auto Online,” and all existing gameplay upgrades and content, including “The Doomsday Heist,” “Gunrunning,” “Smuggler’s Run,” and “Bikers.”

It also comes with the Criminal Enterprise Starter Pack, the fastest way for new “Grand Theft Auto Online” players to jumpstart their criminal empires with the most popular content, plus $1,000,000 bonus cash to spend in “Grand Theft Auto Online” — over $10,000,000 (GTA) in value.

“Grand Theft Auto  Online” — the multiplayer component of “Grand Theft Auto V” — went online in 2013. Since its release, “GTA Online” has become Rockstar’s chief money maker with more than 33 million people having logged in over the game’s five years.Rockstar Games ’ continued support of “Grand Theft Auto Online” helped make “Grand Theft Auto V” the United States’ best-selling game. The game has shipped more than 85 million copies to retail.The studio regularly rolls out substantial updates, new items, and new modes for the game. Just this week, Rockstar released “The Vespucci Job” for “Grand Theft Auto Online,” a thinly veiled Rockstar take on the movie “The Italian Job.” In the free new mode, players either get behind the wheel of a Vapid Flash GT Sports Car, the Weeny Issi Classic (an in-game take on the Mini Cooper), or fly a Sea Sparrow helicopter. One team tries to flee through a series of checkpoints while the other group tries to stop them.

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by Danny Salemme via Eurogamer

Atari has revealed some new details regarding its brand new console: Atari VCS (formerly called Ataribox). Aside from the sleek, vintage design and throwback joystick, there are some interesting bells and whistles integrated into the gaming company’s first official console since the failed Atari Jaguar in 1993.

Capitalizing on 1980s-era nostalgia a la Stranger Things and Ready Player One, Atari is re-embarking into console territory with the Atari VCS: a retro-style gaming console that takes direct inspiration from the generation it originated from, while also offering plenty of modern utilities to warrant a purchase. While the original Atari console was a staple in ’80s gaming with two-dimensional games like Pong and Space Invaders, the VCS will double as home assistant, home speaker, and computer all in one single device.

Eurogamer spoke with Atari Connected Devices COO Michael Arzt during the 2018 Game Developer Conference and managed to get a clearer picture of how the Atari VCS might attract a new generation of gamers. Unlike the NES Mini, which was literally just a miniature version of the original Nintendo console, the VCS is essentially a computer with TV screen compatibility. The VCS utilizes streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, music streaming services like Spotify and Pandora, social networking, and, of course, it allows users to play classic Atari games. It will also function like a computer (and is “less expensive than a PC,” ranging around an unspecified cost between $249 and $299), so users will “be able to hook a wireless or USB mouse and keyboard to it” if they so choose.

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As far as the physical features go, the console’s design takes inspiration from the original Atari – all the way down to the faux-wood finish and retro matte black joystick – while running on an AMD x86 processor. And since Artz is aware that most people aren’t too keen on shelling out money for new accessories when they already own other competing consoles, like the Xbox One X or the Playstation 4, the company is allowing Atari VCS owners to seamlessly use any other Bluetooth or USB controller with the console. They also expect to reveal more details about the console, as well as information regarding preorders, by the end of April (including the potential of third-party publishers). That said, while Artz is well aware that people “people want a lot of answers,” he explained that there are some VCS elements that he’s “not in a position to talk about yet that this [console] will do.”

With the VCS, Atari has a solid shot at entering the modern console wars, but critics will no doubt be unforgiving. The company acknowledges that it has a few more hurdles in its way before launching the VCS (for example, Artz admits to abandoning some earlier designs and creative partnerships because they didn’t believe they were doing justice to Atari’s long-awaited return), but is confident that their aim for perfection will pay off. Also, given how prominent a role the original Atari plays in Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Ready Player One, this may well be the perfect time to release a new Atari console into the world – assuming the company can meet high demands and expectations.

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by Rob Thubron via TechSpot

Could the PlayStation 5 be here sooner than expected? That’s what several reports are stating, including one from SemiAccurate, which also claims to have some details about Sony’s new console.

The publication’s article is behind a $1000 paywall, but a summary has appeared on ResetEra. The report says the PlayStation 5, which might not be its final name, will upgrade the Jaguar CPUs found in the PS4 and PS4 Pro in favor of a more powerful Zen-based CPU, previously reported as being an 8 core variety. As for the graphics, the machine is said to use a custom GPU based on AMD’s upcoming Navi architecture.

The new console is also said to come with VR features implemented at the silicon level, suggesting that Sony still believes in its PlayStation VR headsets, which recently received a permanent price decrease.

One thing missing from the report is any mention of backward compatibility with the PS4, which is a feature many are expecting.

The reported specs do sound convincing, especially the use of Zen and Navi—some of AMD’s Vega features appeared in the PlayStation 4 Pro long before they made their way onto the PC via the Radeon line.

The article adds that a large number of PlayStation 5 dev kits are already in the hands of developers, backing up a similar claim made by industry insider Marcus Sellars early last month. SemiAccurate believes this means a 2018 release for the console isn’t totally out of the question, though a 2019 launch seems much more likely. By then, technology such as GDDR6, which is rumored to appear in Nvidia’s next line of GPUs, should be widely available.

Marcus Sellars@Marcus_Sellars

PS5 dev kits went out early this year to third party developers.

SemiAccurate is confident that the “real info” in its report is accurate. The site points out that it correctly revealed the specs of the PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch ahead of their release, while it also predicted the console mid-cycle refresh machines: the Xbox One X and PlayStation 4 Pro.

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by Dave Thier via Forbes

Sea of Thieves, Microsoft and Rare’s long-teased, long-questioned pirate MMO, hasn’t made the sort of splash its creators were hoping it would. It’s working with a nasty 67 on Metacritic, and writers like Forbes’ Paul Tassi are almost mystified by how the game made it this far without so many of the basic structural elements that have guided gamers through MMOs and other games for decades. The consensus is that there’s just not enough to do — a vast empty ocean populated by repetitive islands and fetch quests. We had a feeling this would happen, and now we know.

Because this is 2018, release is merely one of many punctuation marks in the lifespan of any given game, whether you think that’s a good idea or not. And so we’ve got the standard apology/promise/hope when it comes to Sea of Thieves: this is a game intended to evolve over time, expect exciting things, we’re working on it, etc. It’s a frustrating thing to hear, mostly because of the way that it elides the fact that people pay $60 expecting a finished product, and because of the number of times we’ve heard it over the past year or two. No Man’s Sky may be a much better game now than it was at launch, but that doesn’t excuse the game it was at launch.

Sea of Thieves, however, is a little different than other games as service, mostly because an untold number of gamers didn’t pay the $60 purchase price. Sea of Thieves is included in Xbox Game Pass, and so those who already have Xbox Live Gold can pick it up for a free trial, for a $10 one-month subscription, or for free if they’re already Game Pass subscribers. And even those that pay the $10 to check it out aren’t just getting Sea of Thieves, they’re also getting a boatload of other games. It takes the pressure off, to a certain degree.

I hope that what this means is that the game can get a little room to breathe. The game has a million or so players, many of which might have signed up in a lower-pressure, Game Pass situation. Just as importantly, the game could have as many potential customers as there are game pass subscribers, and if Rare manages to fill things out down the road there are a ton of players that can just sort of sign in to see what it’s like. The lower barrier to entry means that it stands a better chance if — that’s a big if — the developer manages to deliver on its promises, even a year or so down the road.

Sea of Thieves is the first new release to debut on Game Pass, marking the beginning of an interesting new experiment from Redmond. And while I assume Microsoft would have preferred to have done this with a better-received game, Sea of Thieves is perfect for it in a strange sort of way. It’s a flawed game with some genuinely interesting parts, and I have a feeling it’s going to be interesting to watch. It seems pretty impossible to recommend it at a full freight of $60. But for $10 or free, it’s most certainly worth a look, whether that’s now or next year.

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