Posts with «game consoles» label

Sony shows how 'Horizon Forbidden West' runs on a PS4 Pro

Guerilla Games has shared some short video clips of Horizon Forbidden West gameplay captured on a PS4 Pro. Unfortunately, the developer didn't include lengthy trailers or teaser videos — and gameplay footage captured on a standard PS4 — with its post on the PlayStation blog. But this is at least some form of assurance from Guerilla that the game works on a previous-gen console a couple of weeks before it's released.

Some gamers may have become wary of titles made for the PS5 and released for older consoles after what happened to Cyberpunk 2077. The CD Projekt Red game was plagued with glitches and graphical issues, among other problems, when played on a PS4. Things had gotten so bad, Sony had to pull the PS4 version from its digital store and offer refunds for those who'd purchased it.  

The GIFs Guerilla shared show Aloy in different situations, such as walking across a village and quickly running around while shooting arrows at her enemies. In the latter, the animation looked smooth despite the explosions and the character's quick movements — hopefully, that's true for the entire game when played on a previous-gen console. Sony reportedly had to cut its production forecast for the PS5, after all, and it's still not easy finding one for purchase. Horizon Forbidden West will be available for the PS5 and the PS4 starting on February 18th.

Horizon Forbidden West PS4 Pro gameplay showcases
Guerrilla’s vibrant world.

Aloy’s adventure continues on PS5 & PS4 February 18:

— PlayStation (@PlayStation) January 27, 2022

The Xbox Series S is 7 percent off at Woot

If you've been trying to buy a next-gen console, you're no doubt aware that it's been quite a challenge due to component shortages. However, Microsoft has done a great job making the Xbox Series S model available over the past few months, and now we're starting to see our first real discounts. It's on sale at Woot for $280, which is $20 or 7 percent off the regular $300 price. That's not a lot, but given that they haven't been available at all until recently, any discount is appreciated. 

Buy Xbox Series S at Woot - $280

We said that the Xbox Series S was a "formidable next-gen console wrapped up in an adorable package" in our Engadget review, while also noting that it was an "incredible value." That's thanks to the compact design (looking at you, Sony PS5), improved game performance and the huge backward-compatible library. 

More specifically, the console can handle games at up to 1440p and hit variable refresh rates up to 120fps, though not many games can do both at the same time. It can't handle 4K like the Xbox Series X or PS5, but refresh rate is a more important issue for most gamers. You also get dramatically faster load times thanks to Microsoft's new Xbox Velocity architecture and custom 512GB SSD, though the relatively paltry storage might be an issue for some users. 

Lack of storage aside, the Xbox Series S is already one of the best console deals out there, and even more so at the discounted $280 price. You'd better act quickly if you want one, however, as the deal is likely to disappear soon. 

Follow @EngadgetDeals on Twitter for the latest tech deals and buying advice.

PlayStation's Wrap-Up is back to break down your PS4 and PS5 stats for 2021

Sony has at last flipped the switch on its PlayStation 2021 Wrap-Up, allowing players to delve into their PlayStation 4 and PS5 stats for 2021. After you log into your PSN account, you'll be able to see how many hours you spent on PlayStation games last year, the five titles you played the most and how a breakdown of the trophies you scooped up.

The tool breaks down your playtime by PS4 and PS5 games, how long you spent playing on a console vs. Remote Play and how many hours you used PlayStation VR. You'll also see the number of games you played and get a code for four avatars as a bonus.

Sony took the opportunity to promote some of its games by highlighting some global community stats. In Death Stranding Director's Cut, for instance, players collectively traveled more than 45 million kilometers and delivered more than 9.4 million packages. They played more than 12 million hours of Returnal in total, while 34.6 percent of Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart players unlocked all of the weapons.

Users need to be aged 18 or over and have played at least 10 hours of games on PS4 or PS5 to access their Wrap-Up. It may not work for PS5 players who haven't enabled full data collection and those who haven't consented to "Additional Data" collection on PS4 in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Australasia, India and Russia.

While the PlayStation's year-end wrap-up feature is emerging much later than ones for other platforms and services, at least it takes the entire year into account. Spotify Wrapped, for instance, only covers listening data from between January and October. The latest edition of PlayStation Wrap-Up is actually arriving a little earlier than the one for 2020, which arrived last February. The tool will be available until February 20th.

Microsoft consolidating the video game industry is bad for everyone

It was cute at first. When Xbox head Phil Spencer took the stage at E3 2018 and announced the acquisition of five notable studios – Undead Labs, Playground Games, Ninja Theory, Compulsion Games and The Initiative – the air inside the Microsoft Theater turned electric. It felt like the company was righting a wrong in its business plan and finally building an internal roster of exciting games that it could offer exclusively on Xbox platforms. You know, a few friends to keep Master Chief company.

Today’s announcement that Microsoft is buying Activision Blizzard, the largest third-party publisher in the video game industry, doesn’t feel as harmless. Four years on and numerous acquisitions later, the Activision Blizzard deal feels like an extreme escalation of Microsoft’s plans, and it could mark a turning point in the video game industry as a whole, with negative consequences for both players and developers.

So far, public reaction to the acquisition has been mixed, which makes sense for a few reasons: first, Activision Blizzard's sheer size is daunting, and this purchase represents more money and industry power than Microsoft's previous gaming acquisitions combined. Second, Activision Blizzard is currently the subject of multiple investigations into allegations of sexual harassment and gender discrimination at the studio, where CEO Bobby Kotick has been in charge and largely unchecked for the past 30 years. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Kotick is poised to leave the company in a golden parachute once the Microsoft deal goes through.

This is the first time Microsoft has received a confused response to acquisition news, rather than outright praise, and that's because this isn't a standard transaction. It's the clearest sign yet that we're in the video game industry's era of consolidation.

Back in 2017, Microsoft was badly losing the first-party IP fight to Sony and Nintendo. By the end of that year, Xbox had shut down two of its internal studios, Lionhead and Press Play, it had killed a few hotly anticipated projects, and even with the Xbox Series X right around the corner, there wasn’t much to look forward to in the company’s software reserves. The acquisition announcement at E3 2018 was a sigh of relief for anxious Xbox fans.

By February 2019, Microsoft had 13 studios and publishing organizations under the banner of Xbox Game Studios.


And then in September 2020, Microsoft revealed it was buying ZeniMax Media, the parent company of Bethesda, id Software, Arkane Studios and Tango Gameworks. The gaming world generally rejoiced, but a few folks also started glancing around, suspicious. These studios were a big deal – the stewards of Fallout, Doom, Dishonored, Wolfenstein, Deathloop, Starfield and Elder Scrolls – and they were being added to Microsoft’s substantial pile of medium-sized companies, more names in a growing list. That alone was cause for pause.

For most fans, the main question was, what did the acquisition mean for games like The Elder Scrolls VI, which was part of a series that historically hit PlayStation and Xbox platforms alike? Basically, would Elder Scrolls VI come to PS4 and PS5?

Turns out, probably not.

One year after Microsoft’s purchase of Bethesda, Spencer told GQ that he believed the Xbox ecosystem was the best place for all of the franchises in the studio’s repertoire, including The Elder Scrolls VI. He all but confirmed it would be exclusive to Xbox.

“It’s not about punishing any other platform, like I fundamentally believe all of the platforms can continue to grow,” Spencer told GQ. “But in order to be on Xbox, I want us to be able to bring the full complete package of what we have. And that would be true when I think about Elder Scrolls VI. That would be true when I think about any of our franchises.”

Starfield, Bethesda’s sci-fi RPG built for the ninth console generation, will definitely be exclusive to Xbox Series X/S and PC, skipping PS5 entirely. Spencer’s comments make it clear that Xbox is eyeing exclusivity for its franchises, and after today’s $69 billion deal goes through, that’s going to include Activision Blizzard games.


Activision Blizzard is the largest third-party publisher in gaming, and it’s the owner of massive franchises including Call of Duty, Overwatch, Diablo, World of Warcraft, Hearthstone and Candy Crush. As a third-party studio, Activision Blizzard has been able to negotiate with the main platform holders to get its software on the consoles and devices it wants. This doesn’t always equate to same-day launches or in-game item equity, but generally speaking, this position has helped ensure Activision Blizzard games reach as many players on as many platforms as possible. Exclusivity agreements and distribution deals are the main source of competition in the industry at this point, allowing outside developers to advocate for their games without feeling beholden to any console owner in particular.

When a platform holder becomes the largest publisher in gaming, it flips the script completely. It jams the script into a shredder, burns the scraps to ash, condenses the ash into stone, and then throws that to the bottom of the Mariana Trench.

Let’s take Call of Duty, a series with predictable annual installments, for example. Over the years, Activision has shifted allegiances between Microsoft and Sony, offering early access and exclusive game modes to Xbox platforms, then PlayStation, and mixing it up along the way. Among all the backroom talks, bad blood and better offers, it’s always been up to Activision to cut the best deal for Call of Duty, console holders be damned.

After the acquisition, that negotiation looks entirely different, if it even exists at all. As the owner of Call of Duty, Microsoft can tell Sony to screw off, keeping one of the industry’s biggest franchises exclusive to Xbox platforms.

This likely won’t happen right away, but it’s certainly a possibility down the line. In his blog post about the acquisition, Xbox’s Spencer didn’t address Sony or Nintendo platforms specifically, but he alluded to the possibility of cross-platform support for Activision Blizzard’s franchises. 

“Activision Blizzard games are enjoyed on a variety of platforms and we plan to continue to support those communities moving forward,” he said, without detailing what he meant by “platforms” or “support.” Keep in mind, this was the messaging around Elder Scrolls VI at first, too.

Microsoft isn’t the only company in the midst of a studio-hoarding spree: Sony picked up its 13th internal studio, Housemarque, in June 2021, while Tencent is chugging along with ownership of Riot Games, financial stakes in a handful of massive studios, and the purchase of LittleBigPlanet 3 developer Sumo Group in July 2021. Even Valve has scooped up a handful of independent creators in recent years, including the team behind Firewatch and some members of Kerbal Space Program.

MARK RALSTON via Getty Images

Microsoft’s purchase of Activision Blizzard simply feels like the final push into a new era for the video game industry: consolidation.

While exclusivity deals may be the short-term concern, this trend has a longer and more tragic tail. It’s highly likely that there will be more acquisitions by Microsoft, Sony and other major names in gaming, and these deals and subsequent companies will only get bigger with time. With just a few massive studios controlling a huge chunk of the software pipeline, it could instill a sense of homogeneity among new titles, killing innovation as each developer attempts to conform to the corporate environment around them, actively or subconsciously.

Even with “creative freedom” built into their contracts, the acquired studios will all use the same QA process, funding arrangement, marketing plan, management structure and editing cycle; they’ll have the same bosses and face the same oversight. And when all new products are the result of a singular perspective, they’re bound to feel familiar. Stale, even. Boring.

Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard is an escalation of the exclusivity scheme, and it represents a new way of doing business. Now and for years to come, consolidation is the name of the game.

Maybe one day we’ll get Consolidation 2: Blow It All Up And Make Everything Indie Again, but that one might have trouble finding a publisher.

Microsoft is no longer making Xbox One consoles

Microsoft and Sony are struggling to keep up with demand for the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5. While Sony plans to keep manufacturing the PlayStation 4 for the time being to make up for its shortfall of current-gen consoles, the Xbox One is no more.

We learned in July 2020 that Microsoft had discontinued the Xbox One X and Xbox One S Digital Edition by that point. Now, it has emerged the company quietly stopped making the Xbox One S by the end of that year too. “To focus on production of Xbox Series X/S, we stopped production for all Xbox One consoles by the end of 2020,” Xbox’s senior director of console product marketing Cindy Walker told The Verge.

It seems the strategy has paid off. Xbox head Phil Spencer told The New York Times this week that Microsoft has sold more of the Series X and Series S at this point in their lifecycle than it has with any previous Xbox generation, though he didn’t reveal actual sales figures. Analyst Daniel Ahmad of Niko Partners said that would put shipments of Series X/S at more than 12 million units.

While the more powerful Series X typically sells out minutes after every stock drop (it doesn’t help that scalpers are using bots to snap them up), the Series S isn’t hard to come by at this point. It’s available to buy at the time of writing in the US, UK and Canada at retailers like Amazon, Best Buy, GameStop and Walmart. Given that the Series S can handle pretty much everything the Xbox One can — except for playing discs — it doesn’t make a ton of sense for Microsoft to keep making that console.

It’s a slightly different story for Sony. Save for the disc drive, there’s no difference between the two PS5 models. Given the high demand (Sony had sold 13.4 million units by October 2021) and the ongoing supply chain crisis, it’s harder for most people to score one of those consoles than a Series S right now. As such, Sony told Bloomberg on Wednesday it will keep making the PS4 (which uses less advanced components than the PS5) in 2022, despite reportedly planning to discontinue the console last year. The company's said to be making around a million PS4 units in this year.

Sony previously suggested it would support PS4 through 2024. Several of its first-party exclusives are coming to both the current- and previous-gen consoles this year, including Horizon Forbidden West, Gran Turismo 7 and God of War Ragnarök.

KeyMander Nexus Gaming KVM connects your PC to Xbox, Switch and PS4

The KeyMander Nexus Gaming KVM is the next evolution of IOGEAR's connective hardware for PC and consoles, and it's due to come out between April and June 2022 for $200. It specifically supports Xbox Series X and S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PlayStation 4 consoles, making it possible to play any game on those systems with a keyboard, mouse, monitor and headset connected to a PC.

The name of the game here is streamlining. The Nexus Gaming KVM brings multiple consoles to a single screen and input system on the PC, while also allowing users to swap among Switch, Xbox One and PS4 controllers. It supports video at 4K and 60Hz, using HDMI 2.1.

Now to address the ninth-generation elephant in the room: The Nexus Gaming KVM doesn't fully support PS5 or the DualSense controllers. This is in line with previous iterations of the KeyMander switches, which also have limited functionality with PS5.

"We have limited support for PS5, can only play PS4 and non-DualSense PS5 games," an IOGEAR spokesperson told Engadget. "We are looking to launch a dongle in late Q2 that may bring full support." Q2 ends ends in June 2022, the spokesperson clarified.

IOGEAR has been talking about that dongle for about seven months now, and the use of "may" in that statement isn't reassuring. Sony's DualSense controllers for the PS5 include a range of new features, like adaptive triggers and ultra-sensitive haptics, and several titles actually require this gamepad to function. This makes it difficult to translate PS5 games to a standard input method like a keyboard and mouse. However, IOGEAR says it's still trying.

There are ways to play certain games with a keyboard and mouse plugged directly into consoles, but these titles are limited. Not only does the Nexus Gaming KVM unlock this input method for every game on supported systems, but it keeps things organized by running each console through a single monitor and headset, negating the need to swap screens and controllers. Unless you have a PS5, for now.

The best accessories for your new PlayStation 5

So you managed to buy a PlayStation 5 – congratulations, you beat supply shortages to obtain one of the most sought-after consoles in recent memory. Now comes the fun part. No PS5 is complete without a library of games and accessories to elevate your experience. Thankfully, you won't have as much trouble getting your hands on those. However, if you're new to the console, the tricky part is knowing what titles and peripherals are worth your time. We’ve gathered our favorites here to make the search easier for you.

PlayStation Plus


If the PS5 is your first console or you're coming from an Xbox, one of the first things you'll want to pick up is a PlayStation Plus subscription. It’ll help you flesh out your library. Sony gives a handful of free games away to PS Plus subscribers each month, and as long as you maintain an active membership, they're yours to keep. The selection is sometimes hit and miss, but you'll find a few gems every year. You'll also need PS Plus to play most games online, though a subscription isn't required for free-to-play titles like Call of Duty: Warzone. The addition of PlayStation Store discounts and cloud storage make PS Plus a no-brainer if you see yourself using your PS5 constantly.

Buy PS Plus (1 year) at Amazon - $60

SteelSeries Arctis 7P+


Do the people you live with a favor and buy yourself a decent headset. It will help you stop nerves from fraying and is a must for any multiplayer game. The options for gaming headsets are vast, so we recommend picking one with a solid track record. SteelSeries recently updated its iconic Arctis 7 headset with the 7P+ which has improved battery life and a USB-C port for charging. What the company didn't change was the headband design that many people credit for making the Arctis 7 one of the more comfortable headsets on the market. The 7P+ costs the same as the standard 7+ variant, but also adds full support for the PS5's Tempest 3D audio technology.

Buy Arctis 7P+ at SteelSeries - $170

WD Black SN850


Sony recently released an update to allow PS5 owners to expand their console's internal storage. And it's a good thing, because the 667GB of usable storage the console comes with can feel limiting quickly. We already published a comprehensive guide on the best SSDs you can buy for your PlayStation 5. You'll want to check that article out for a step-by-step guide on how to upgrade your SSD. But if you want to make things as simple as possible, your best bet is a Gen4 M.2 NVME SSD with a built-in heatsink. One of the better plug-and-play options is the SN850 from WD Black. It checks off all the compatibility requirements listed by Sony and is reasonably priced, too.

Buy WD Black SN850 (1TB) at Amazon - $230

Samsung T7 SSD


If you don't feel comfortable opening your PS5 to install a new SSD, another option is to purchase an external solid-state drive. Keep in mind that you can't play PS5 games from an external drive. However, it takes less time to copy one over from an SSD than it does to download it from the PlayStation Store. One of our favorite portable drives is the Samsung T7. It can write files at a speedy 1,000 MB/s and comes with a shock-resistant enclosure to protect the drive from physical damage. If you plan to use the SSD exclusively for storing games, you can save money by buying the standard model instead of the Touch variant with fingerprint sensor.

Buy Samsung T7 (1TB) at Amazon - $170

DualSense Charging Station


While you can charge your DualSense controller with the USB-C cable that comes with your PS5, a more elegant solution is the DualSense Charging Station. It can store and charge two controllers simultaneously. In that way, you can always have a second controller ready to go if the one you're currently using runs out of battery. It will also free up the USB ports on your PS5 for other accessories.

Buy DualSense Charging Station at Amazon - $60



This timed exclusive is one of the most stylish games you can play on the PS5. Arkane's latest puts you in a time loop in which you need to learn the schedules of your targets to assassinate all eight of them in a single day. The game's level design is dense in the best way possible, inviting you to learn all of the secrets of each zone so you can execute a successful run.

Buy Deathloop at Amazon - $60

Death's Door

Acid Nerve

With a title that evokes the end of all things, you might think Death's Door is a bleak game. But that couldn't be further from the truth. Buoyed by a beautiful soundtrack and art style, it's one of the most thoughtful and pleasant indies I've played recently. Developer Acid Nerve's tribute to The Legend of Zelda and Dark Souls is a must-play for those who love to lose themselves in a world of mystery and intrigue.

Buy Death's Door at Sony - $20

Demon's Souls


If you've had the itch to try FromSoftware's Soulsborne series but don't know where to start, you'll find no better introduction than Demon's Souls. Developer Bluepoint Games has lovingly recreated the crumbling kingdom of Boleteria for the 4K era, making this remake one of the best-looking games on the PS5. Yes, it's as tough as you've heard, but a handful of quality-of-life improvements, including a much-needed performance mode, make the journey all the more rewarding.

Buy Demon's Souls at Amazon - $70

Ghosts of Tsushima Directors Cut

Sucker Punch Productions

You've played games like Ghost of Tsushima before. It borrows from the familiar open-world formula popularized by Assassin's Creed and other Ubisoft titles. But that's not a knock against it. Far from it, Sucker Punch's latest is so easy to recommend because it executes the open-world concept flawlessly. The studio has created a beautiful playground steeped in Feudal Japanese culture, myth and history for players to explore, with something interesting to find beyond every ridge. Combat is also a highlight, allowing you to play either as honorable samurai, terrifying assassin or a mixture of both. And once you have finished Tsushima's touching single-player story, there's the excellent Legends multiplayer mode to keep you busy for the long haul.

Buy Ghosts of Tsushima at Amazon - $70


Supergiant Games

If you pick up only one game from this list, make it Hades. It is as close to a perfectly executed game as you'll find. Everything from the art style, music, story and gameplay mechanics coalesces into one of the most memorable experiences in recent memory. Even if you're not a fan of rogue-like games, don't worry: Hades is so successful because even when you die, it never feels like you've wasted your time.

Buy Hades at Amazon - $40

Adidas' final commemorative Xbox sneakers are now on sale

Since October, Microsoft and Adidas have been releasing commemorative Xbox-themed sneakers to mark the brand's 20th anniversary. It all started with a pair of Forum Tech shoes the two companies gave away to a group of lucky fans. Then, in November, they released a pair of Xbox 360-themed Forum Mid sneakers you could buy in the US and Canada. Now, for their third and final drop, the two have come out with an Xbox Series X-inspired design that's available to purchase worldwide.

This time around, Microsoft and Adidas say they went with the Tech Boost silhouette because, like the Xbox Series X/S, it's a design that acknowledges the past while incorporating new technologies. As with the other sneakers in the series, you'll find plenty of clever references. For instance, the inner lining of the shoes draws on the design of the Xbox Series X's vents. Meanwhile, the heel and sole of shoes mirror the grips of the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller.

"Overall, we wanted to create a shoe that cemented a moment in time, but also felt timeless," Microsoft said. "This is a shoe that is meant to be played in, meant to be worn, and meant to be enjoyed by our community – one that's always played in, and never played out."

You can buy the Xbox Series X Forum Tech Boost from the Adidas website for $140. If you're not a sneakerhead, Microsoft has released other commemorative products to mark the console's 20th birthday, including a translucent controller that pays homage to the original Xbox debug kit.

Sony's latest smartphone camera sensor gathers twice as much light

Sony has unveiled a new type of stacked CMOS sensor that uses "two-layer transistor pixels" to double the light gathering capability. Typical image sensors have the light-sensitive photodiodes and pixel transistors that control and amplify the signal on the same layer. However, the new design puts the photodiodes on top and the pixel transistors below, "approximately doubling saturation signal levels," Sony said. 

Sony pioneered stacked sensors that put fast memory and other electronics directly under the sensor, allowing for faster readout speeds and thus rapid burst shooting and reduced rolling shutter (jello effect) on cameras and smartphones. This latest sensor uses a similar idea, but packs the pixel transistors onto a separate substrate underneath the photodiode layer.


That means each layer could be optimized, allowing Sony to double the sensor's light saturation (well depth), or the amount of charge each pixel can hold. That in turn allows for around double the light-capturing capability.

Sony notes that because the transistor pixels sit on a separate layer, it was able to boost the amplifier transistors in size. That allows for a bigger signal boost, reducing noise when shooting nighttime or other images in dark locations. The increased dynamic range will allow for "high-quality, low-noise images even in low-light," according to Sony. 

Sony specifically stated that the tech will allow for higher-quality smartphone photography. With double the light gathering capability, it will allow for much improved light sensitivity even in relatively small, high-megapixel sensors. Sony has yet to say when this tech will make it to smartphone or cameras, but it plans to further improve the design for both large and small sensors. 


Sony will begin selling official PlayStation 5 covers next month

After shutting down third-party PS5 console covers with legal threats, Sony has launched its own official $55 PlayStation five colors, the company announced. Those will go along with the DualSense controls it launched earlier this year, and introduce three new colors in the same galaxy-inspired theme.

The console covers (and matching controllers) will come in Midnight Black, Cosmic Red, Nova Pink, Starlight Blue and Galactic Purple. "Simply remove your original white PS5 console covers and click your new ones into place," the company said. "The PS5 console covers will be available for both the PS5 with the Ultra HD Blu-ray disc drive and the PS5 Digital Edition." 

The Midnight Black and Cosmic Red PS5 console covers will be available starting in January 2022 in specific regions, including the USA, Canada, UK, France, Australia and China. The Nova Pink, Galactic Purple, and Starlight Blue models will launch in those same locations during the first half of 2022.

As you may remember, Sony recently launched new DualSense wireless controllers in Cosmic Red and Midnight Black. Now, it will also release new controllers in the other three colors (Nova Pink, Starlight Blue, and Galactic Purple) for $75 globally in January 2022 at participating retailers. 

As a reminder, last year a company called PlateStation unveiled replacement PS5 covers in colors like cherry red, black and jungle camo. However, the company subsequently announced on Twitter that it would be canceling all orders and processing refunds "due to patent and intellectual property issues" with Sony.

Now we can see why Sony asserted its IP rights so strongly. Given that it can't sell as many PS5 consoles as it would like due to semiconductor shortages, accessories like this will provide another revenue stream. Yes, console color and design aren't that important, but the new covers are a good option for the many folks who aren't that keen on white. Pre-orders are now open for the new controller colors ($75) and first two console covers ($55) — if you're planning to get one, let us know below.