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Steam Black Friday 2020: When is the Steam Autumn sale? When is next Steam sale?

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Steam sale fans could have another money-saving bonanza arriving soon, with the Steam Black Friday 2020 sale (aka the Steam Autumn sale) expected to be launching shortly. Valve typically don’t announce the dates and start times for their next Steam sale in advance, but PC gamers have a number of ways figuring this out. Typically it’s either through leaks or looking at previous launch schedules that helps Steam fans determine when is the next Steam sale.

So far there haven’t been any leaks surrounding a potential Steam Black Friday 2020 sale, but judging by past launches the Steam Autumn sale should be starting soon.

The Steam Black Friday 2020 sale is expected to launch on either Tuesday November 24 or Wednesday November 25.

We say either as last year the Steam Autumn sale for 2019 launched on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving – November 26 2019.

However, the Steam Database website says they anticipate this year’s edition of the Steam Autumn sale / Steam Black Friday sale will begin on Wednesday November 25.

A start time of 6pm GMT is expected, with the Steam Black Friday 2020 sale rumoured to be running for four days and ending at the same time on Tuesday December 1.

We’ll have to wait and see to find out, so be sure to check in on both Tuesday and Wednesday in case Steam discounts go live then.

Looking at the type of discounts Steam players may be about to get, last year’s Steam Autumn sale took money off titles such as Gears 5, Code Vein, Cities: Skylines and The Crew 2.

While The Surge 2 and Dead Cells also received a price cut. The start of the last year’s Steam Autumn sale also saw nominations for the Steam Awards open.

The awards were broken down into the following categories: Game of the Year, VR Game of the Year, Labour of Love, Better With Friends, Most Innovative, Outstanding Story-Rich Game, Best Game You Suck At and Outstanding Visual Style.

Announcing the start of the last Steam Autumn sale, Valve said: “The 2019 Steam Autumn Sale is now live, with great deals across the Steam catalog through Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Check in each day to see the new featured titles on the front page, plus personalised recommendations.

“In addition to the thousands of great games that are on discount, join us in our fourth-annual Steam Awards and nominate your favourite games across all eight categories, and earn profile XP and badges for participating! Your nominations will help determine the finalists for each category.

“In December, you can vote on the winners for each category during the Steam Winter Sale.”

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PS Plus December 2020 free PS4, PS5 games: Horizon Zero Dawn, Dark Souls and Worms Rumble?

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PlayStation Plus subscribers are eagerly awaiting the free PS4 and PS5 games reveal for December 2020.

The next batch of free PS Plus games are likely to be revealed at 4.30pm UK time on November 25.

Assuming Sony goes the traditional route, the PS Plus free games will be available to download less than a week later on December 1.

With the December 2020 PS Plus reveal closing in fast, fans have been having fun making predictions about the next batch of free games.

In the latest PlayStation Plus predictions thread over on Reddit, fans believe that Horizon Zero Dawn could make an appearance as one of the free PS4 games.

First-party game Horizon Zero Dawn was left out of the PlayStation Plus Collection on PS5, perhaps because Sony is saving it for PS Plus in December.

The same is true of Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, which is the only Uncharted release not to have made an appearance on PS Plus.

It might be wishful thinking, but there are also lots of predictions for Dark Souls Remastered. Fans argue that an appearance on PS Plus would inspire people to check out PS5 launch title Demon’s Souls.

Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin and Dark Souls 3 also get multiple mentions in the latest predictions thread.

Elsewhere, there are mentions for everything from No Man’s Sky and Watch Dogs 2, to Nier Automata and Firewatch.

Little Nightmares continues to be a popular choice, as well as Spyro Collection, Assassin’s Creed Unity and a Far Cry game.

Needless to say, you can’t have a monthly predictions thread without The Order: 1886 making an appearance. Maybe one day.

What’s less clear is whether or not any PS5 games will be included in the December 2020 PS Plus line-up.

PlayStation Plus subscribers can currently download the PS5 version of Bugsnax as part of their membership. 

The charming PS5 launch game is free to PS Plus subscribers until January 6, which has led to speculation that there won’t be another free PS5 game until then.

However, some fans are convinced that the PS5 version of Worms Rumble will be available as a free PS Plus download in December.

Sony used to give away two PS4 games, two PS3 games and two PlayStation Vita games every month, so there’s nothing to say the company won’t do the same for the PS5 and PS4.

In the meantime, PlayStation Plus subscribers can download the current line-up of Middle-earth Shadow of War and Hollow Knight on PS4.

“Set between the events of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, Middle-earth: Shadow of War beckons you once more into JRR Tolkien’s iconic world of wizards, orcs and elves,” reads the official description.

“Go behind enemy lines to forge your army, conquer Fortresses and dominate Mordor from within.

“Experience how the Nemesis System creates unique personal stories with every enemy and follower, and confront the full power of the Dark Lord Sauron and his Ringwraiths in this epic new story of Middle-earth.”

Hollow Knight, meanwhile, is a critically-acclaimed 2D platformer that’s like a cross between Castlevania, Metroid and Dark Souls.

“In Team Cherry’s engrossing 2D explorative platformer, descend into a sprawling underground world of Hollownest to battle tainted creatures and befriend bizarre bugs.

“Unlock new skills and tailor your power sets to fit your playstyle to help you explore twisting caverns, ancient cities and deadly wastes. Uncover a kingdom’s ancient history, taking on epic bosses that’ll challenge your combat and platforming skills as you strive to solve the mysteries buried at its heart.”

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Animal Crossing Winter Update: Event schedule and save transfers for Nintendo Switch game

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Animal Crossing New Horizons is getting a free update later this week, and just in time for winter.

The new Animal Crossing Winter Update has been given a November 19 release date by Nintendo.

With the Winter Update installed, you’ll be able to transfer your islands and save data to another Nintendo Switch system.

In order to transfer save and island data, players will need to download the free Island Transfer Tool app from the Nintendo eShop.

You’ll also get an upgrade to your home storage, which will increase your space to 2,400 slots. Needless to say, you’ll only be able to access the expanded storage if you’ve paid off your debt to Tom Nook.

Nintendo explains more: “If you’ve expanded your in-game home to its largest size and paid off your debt, you’ll now be able to apply for a home storage expansion by speaking to Tom Nook at Resident Services.

“Congrats on achieving the next level of home ownership. This will expand your home storage to 2400 slots. Think of all the items you can now store and access from the comfort of your island home!”

Elsewhere, the Winter Update also ushers in a host of special seasonal events, beginning with Turkey Day on November 26.

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“On Turkey Day, which will take place this year on Nov. 26, the first-class chef Franklin will arrive and host a gathering in the plaza,” Nintendo continues.

“You can help Franklin collect ingredients to go in the dishes that will be on display in the plaza. You can even receive a gift from Franklin as a thank you for helping him cook.”

This will be followed by “Toy Day” on December 24. On this day, players will be visited by Jingle, who will reward players with a bonus gift if they help him deliver presents.

The countdown to Toy Day begins in the coming weeks, as Nintendo adds holiday decorations to the map.

“Keep an eye out for decorated trees, too. Shaking these may drop ornaments which will allow you to craft holiday furniture recipes.”

Players can purchase toys from Nook’s Cranny from December 1 to December 25, as well as holiday-themed clothing from the Able Sisters’ shop.

And the events don’t end there, as Nintendo adds even more items in the build up to New Year’s Eve. That’s on top of a special countdown event to usher in the big day.

Finally, Animal Crossing New Horizons players can obtain nine new reactions and six new hairstyles with the new update.

Fans can purchase the new content by redeeming Nook Miles in Resident Services.

There’s also a pretty interesting new feature where you can choose to visit random islands while dreaming. This should give players even more inspiration when designing their islands.

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Square Enix fans can relive one of Final Fantasy 7’s most iconic scenes in real life

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Anyone that has played through Final Fantasy 7 – whether that’s back in the 90s when they popped a disc into their PS1, or in the subsequent ports or recent remake – will be familiar with the Mako Reactor 1 run. It’s the backdrop to a memorable opening to Final Fantasy 7, as Cloud and members of the eco-terrorist group Avalanche stick it to Shinra by blowing up one eight reactors that powers the city of Midgar. From Cloud’s flamboyant entrance, to the Guard Scorpion boss battle, to the race against the clock to escape – it’s an iconic opening salvo to the beloved JRPG which is etched into the memories of so many gamers.

And now Final Fantasy fans will soon be able to re-create this memorable scene thanks to a new escape room that is set to open in Japan.

The Final Fantasy 7 escape room will be opening in Tokyo’s Shinjuku district at the Tokyo Mystery Circus venue.

Teams of up to three people will have 30 minutes to infiltrate and destroy Mako Reactor 1, all the while interacting with Cloud and members of Avalance via a tablet computer.

Participants will also be able to use Materia to cast magic, and will have to deal with fire from Shinra soldiers.

If a member of team is shot by a Shinra soldier then a chunk of time on the time limit for the escape room will be eaten away.

The attraction is opening on December 9, and slots will be available on an hourly basis from 12pm on weekdays and 10am on weekends, with an 8pm close time, according to Siliconera.

If you want to see what the Final Fantasy 7 escape room looks like in action then check out this trailer for it.

The news comes as FF7 fans are waiting for the first official reveal on the next part of the Final Fantasy 7 Remake project.

After a wait of almost two decades, the long talked about Final Fantasy 7 Remake at last released earlier this year in March.

But the story doesn’t end with that PS4 release, as Square Enix are taking an ‘episodic’ approach with the FF7 Remake.

It remains to be seen how many instalments there will be but fans are guaranteed to get at least one more FF7R game.

Earlier this year Final Fantasy 7 Remake director Tetsuya Nomura told Famitsu that he wanted to release part 2 “as soon as possible”, with work on it already begun.

Nomura-san said: “We know that everyone wants the next instalment quickly. We would also like to deliver it as soon as possible. Since we were also able to see the line of quality from the first instalment, we hope to make the next instalment even better in quality that can make for an even better experience.

“We would like to get it out as soon as possible, so please wait for it. I think we can clearly convey the direction when we officially announce the next instalment.”

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Dirt 5 Xbox Series X review: The best arcade racer since Sega Rally?

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From the original Ridge Racer on the PlayStation, to Forza Motorsport 5 on the Xbox One, the racing genre feels like the perfect fit to show off a new console.

In lieu of a new Forza game to usher in the Xbox Series X/S era, the task of giving racing fans their next-gen driving kicks falls to Codemasters.

Unsurprisingly, the UK studio handles the job with aplomb, delivering an awesome racing experience with some fantastic courses and impressive weather effects.

The polar opposite of simulation racers like Dirt Rally, Dirt 5 feels like it’s been plucked directly from a late 1990s arcade.

From the refreshingly straightforward career mode, to the ability to create your own vehicular playgrounds, Dirt 5 has that short-burst pick up and play appeal.

It’s fast-paced, bright and colourful, featuring flamboyant vehicles, garish trackside decorations, and nifty visual effects like fireworks, flames, confetti, smoke, mud, snow, rain and dirt.

You’ll race in locations spread across the globe, from the muddy forests of Brazil, to the frosty surroundings of Norway, and everywhere in-between.

Courses in Greece and Italy are a particular highlight, as you get a nice mixture of mud, tarmac and gravel, which you really feel through the Xbox Series X controller – albeit there seems to be a recent bug where controller vibrations only work half of the time.

The campaign utilises a fairly basic branching career path, where players typically get to choose between two events at a time. Compared to some racing games where career mode options can be pretty overwhelming, I kind of like this simple, stripped back approach.

Indeed, with Xbox Series X loading times dropping players into races within about 12 seconds, Dirt 5 is all action.

There are Rally Raid races that take you from point to point, as well as circuit races over multiple laps, and even Overpass-style Path Finder events that are less about going flat-out, and more about controlled speed, braking and angles of approach.

With dynamic weather and harsher conditions, Ultra Cross events are my favourite, and really showcase the power of the Xbox Series X.

The best of the bunch is the Drama in the Harbour event that takes place in Henningsvaer, Norway. Going from day to night with heavy snow and even a bit of lightning, it’s a seriously spectacular sight.

I also like the way you can set your own weather and racing conditions in the arcade mode, something which breathes new life into familiar courses – like when you make it snow in Arizona.

There’s always lots happening on screen, the performance is rock-solid, and the vehicles big and bold. The only thing missing is extensive car damage beyond general scrapes and scratches.

While I’m sure the Xbox Series X and PS5 will produce better looking games as the console generation goes on, Dirt 5 is an impressive start.

Back to the career mode, the biggest problem with Dirt 5’s skeletal campaign is that you really notice when a race type or event isn’t to your liking – I didn’t care for the ice river races in New York, for example.

While this generally doesn’t present much of a problem – you’ve typically always got two events to choose from – there were a few occasions when I either had to suck it up and play an event I didn’t like, or go back to where the path split and play through a different series of races.

There’s also a storyline of sorts, which is presented through podcast recordings that play out on the menu screens.

So inconsequential is the narrative that I completely zoned out after about an hour or so. I think it’s got something to do with a rivalry between Nolan North and Troy Baker, presumably about who has the most video game voiceover credits. I don’t know, I wasn’t really listening.

At least Codemasters hasn’t shoehorned in a load of unnecessary cutscenes, which is one of my biggest bugbears in racing games.

Players can also earn medals by performing randomly assigned objectives during races. Tasking players with things like trading paint, drifting and catching air, the objectives are fairly uninteresting, although they’re straightforward enough that you’ll unlock most without even trying.

Despite these flaws, Dirt 5 excels where it matters most, and that’s when you’re going full throttle around the game’s rich and diverse selection of courses.

Throw in a selection of unique online modes – like a team-based vehicular tag mode called Vampire – plus the ability to create your own tracks and arenas, and Dirt 5 should scratch that racing itch until we get a new Gran Turismo and Forza.

VERDICT: 4/5

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Call of Duty: Reagan’s true target exposed in secret files on game’s Cold War mission

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Activision’s game, which is available on both Xbox and Playstation consoles, as well as PC, takes the player back to the bitter tussles of the Cold War – where the Soviet Union and the US came within touching distance of a nuclear catastrophe. Its campaign mode follows CIA officer Russell Adler as he pursues an alleged Soviet spy, Perseus, whose stated goal is to subvert the US and tilt the balance of power towards the USSR. In the trailer of the game, former US President Ronald Reagan orders the player to undertake a covert mission in order to “save the free world”.

It features a discussion on finding and eliminating Perseus before he spills his secrets, in a move that Mr Adler says “will shift the balance of the Cold War”.

Then, Mr Reagan shows up, demanding to “give Mr Adler whatever he wants,” to complete his mission, adding: “You’ve been given a great task, protecting our very way of life from a great evil.”

But while that threat was real, Perseus was not the full picture.

The codename was given to a hypothetical atomic spy said to have breached US national security by infiltrating Los Alamos National Laboratory during the development of the Manhattan Project.

During the research and development programme, run between the US and the UK to produce the first nuclear weapons, intelligence services uncovered a number of cases of espionage work – most famously Klaus Fuchs – through the Venona project.

In 1995, the CIA declassified documents showing they had identified three Soviet agents, adding Theodore Hall and David Greenglass to the list.

The documents added: “Some students of Soviet atomic espionage have believed in the existence of a fourth unidentified Soviet spy at Los Alamos, codenamed Perseus’.”

This belief is based on memoirs of KGB officers published in the early Nineties.

But with the opening of the Venona decryptions in 1995, it was revealed that Perseus was “a Soviet intelligence disinformation operation to protect Theodore Hall, then still alive but not publicly exposed as a Soviet spy”.

It added: “The fake Perseus was given characteristics that did not fit Hall. There was no Perseus.”

But that was not the end of the story.

While there was no Perseus, there was a fourth Soviet spy at Los Alamos. 

For seven decades the identity of this spy was buried in the FBI’s investigative files but was recently declassified.

Documents revealed Oscar Seborer was the fourth spy and therefore the real threat to the future of the Cold War. 

They revealed: “The FBI has known since 1955 that Oscar, his brother Stuart, Stuart’s wife Miriam, and Miriam’s mother all secretly defected to the Soviet bloc in 1952, living initially in East Germany but then moving to Moscow.

“The brothers never returned from Moscow, but remarkably Miriam, by then divorced from Stuart, returned to the US with her son (born in East Germany) and her mother in 1969, at the height of the Cold War.” 

The story of Oscar Seborer’s atomic espionage is found in a few dozen pages of FBI files released in 2011.  

The rest came from partially released FBI files on the pair that document Operation SOLO, the codename for the FBI’s recruitment and direction of two communist brothers, Morris and Jack Childs, as informants inside the senior leadership of the Communist Party USA, (CPUSA). 

US codebreakers found the Manhattan Project had been penetrated by four Soviet spies in total, who gave it the codename “Enormous,” but there could have been more. 

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Historians generally agree that the Soviet Union achieved its great leaps in its atomic programme by the espionage information and technical data obtained by these four spies.

It needed spies who had security clearance high enough to have access to classified information at the Manhattan Project and who could understand and interpret what they were stealing.  

The Soviet nuclear programme would have eventually been able to develop a nuclear weapon without the aid of espionage, but the spies helped speed up the process greatly. 

They successfully tested the first weapon, dubbed First Lightning, on August 29, 1949. 

Thankfully, neither side would use their weapons of mass destruction on each other.

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Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War release date, launch time, download size, prices, MAPS

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One of the biggest and best weeks for gaming fans is about to be capped off with the release of Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War.

The new Call of Duty game has a November 13 release date on PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One and PC.

As the name suggests, the latest Black Ops game takes place during the 1980s Cold War era.

The single-player campaign transports players to locations such as East Berlin, Turkey, Vietnam and Russia.

Needless to say, Cold War also features an extensive multiplayer suite, offering a collection of new and classic game modes, not to mention the fan-favourite Zombies mode.

Activision’s Warzone Battle Royale spinoff will also contain multiple Cold War tie-ins, as Activision continues to expand its free-to-play hit.

If this has given you a thirst to play Activision’s first-person shooter sensation at launch, then the good news is that you don’t have long to wait.

The PlayStation and Xbox versions of Black Ops Cold War have a midnight launch time in all regions.

PC fans will have to wait slightly longer, with the new game playable at 5am GMT UK time.

Of course, the exact time you can start playing really all depends on whether you’ve pre-loaded the game or not.

The Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War file size is huge, especially on next-gen platforms like PS5 and Xbox Series X, where you’ll need more than 130GB of space on your hard drive.

As for current-gen platforms, the PlayStation 4 version weighs in at 95GB, compared to 93GB for Xbox One.

Over on PC, fans will need 35GB of space for multiplayer, and 82GB of space for the full game. If you’ve got a really powerful PC, then the full Black Ops Cold War experience with Ultra Graphics settings will require 125GB of space.

Fortunately, you can pick and choose which parts to install on different platforms, so you could always start with the campaign, before downloading the multiplayer.

Speaking of multiplayer, Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War contains a wealth of different maps and game modes, including all of the classic 6-v-6 matches we’ve come to know and love, as well as 12-v-12 Combined Arms modes, and the huge 40-person Fireteam mode.

Maps such as Checkmate, Garrison, Miami, Cartel, Crossroads, Moscow, Armada and Satellite are all playable in the game’s 6-v-6 multiplayer modes.

The 12-vs-12 Combined Arms modes are currently playable on Cartel, Crossroads and Armada, while Fireteam can be played on the brand new Ruka and Alpine maps.

Fireteam Dirty Bomb is a unique new game mode which sees ten teams of four compete to collect uranium and detonate dirty bombs.

“Fireteam: Dirty Bomb cranks the action up to 11 with multi-squad insanity,” Activision explains.

“A total of 40 players broken out into 10 teams will compete to take out enemies, collect uranium caches, locate Dirty Bombs scattered throughout the map, and successfully deposit their uranium into said bombs to detonate them and get the win.”

If you’re interested in picking up a copy of Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War at launch, then there are multiple different versions available.

On PS4 and PS5, fans can pick up the Ultimate Edition for £89.99 from the PlayStation Store. The Standard Edition costs £59.99 on PS4, while a cross-platform bundle is priced at £64.99 for PS5.

Xbox Series X/S and Xbox One versions are available for the same prices over on the Microsoft website.

If you would rather a physical copy, then ShopTo is selling current-gen versions for £58.85, and next-gen versions for £62.85.

GAME, on the other hand, is selling the Xbox One and PS4 versions for £64.99 and the PS5 and Xbox Series X cross-platform versions for £69.99.

The new Call of Duty is slightly cheaper at Argos, where Black Ops Cold War prices start at £59.99.

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Xbox Series X review: Speed, power and performance, but lacking next-gen flair

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The Xbox Series X is a solid, workmanlike console that feels more evolutionary than revolutionary.

It’s got the speed, power and performance nailed down, but it lacks the same next-gen flair as the PS5.

Think of it like the Ricky Steamboat to the PS5’s Ric Flair; the Niki Lauda to Sony’s James Hunt; and the George Foreman to PlayStation’s Muhammad Ali (George Foreman was actually pretty charismatic, but you get my point).

In many respects the Xbox Series X is superior to the PS5, but the more exciting next-gen PlayStation will get the headlines.

The Xbox Series X is certainly the better looking of the two new consoles, sporting a towering design that looks like a dark monolith dedicated to the gods of gaming.

It may have gotten a lot of stick when it was revealed – and it’s nice to see Microsoft embrace the fridge memes – but I actually quite like the way it looks.

You may have a tough time fitting it under your TV – even on its side it’s pretty bulky – but the grated top with a splash of Xbox green looks rather striking.

On a practical note, the grated top ensures the powerful next-gen device doesn’t overheat, or make much noise. The trade-off is that it lets out more hot air than Donald Trump.

Seriously, if your heating ever goes down and your hands are cold, just turn on your Xbox Series X, pop in a 4K/60fps stunner, and use it as a fan heater to warm yourself up.

That’s not necessarily a knock on the console, but for safety’s sake, it is worth keeping the top clear and unobstructed when you’re playing.

Going back to an earlier point, nothing sums up Microsoft’s evolutionary approach more than the controller, which is basically just an Xbox One pad with a few upgrades.

In fairness to Microsoft, there was very little wrong with the Xbox One controller, which is one of the most shapely and comfortable around. Particularly suited to modern shooting and racing games, Microsoft has clearly gone down the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ route.

My favourite thing about the new Xbox controller is the D-pad, which despite being a bit loud and a tad ‘clicky’, is finally fit for purpose when playing arcade classics and 2D fighting games.

If you’d rather plug in an arcade stick for your brawlers, the Xbox Series X is also compatible with existing Xbox One accessories, which is another major plus and potential money-saver for customers.

Long-time Xbox fans will also notice the textured back and textured trigger buttons, which are presumably there to improve your grip during sweaty gaming sessions.

If you don’t have sweaty hands or your name is Prince Andrew, then it’s a minor change that won’t make much of a difference. For the rest of us, however, it’s another tick in the pros column.

Elsewhere, there’s now a conveniently placed capture button for recording clips and grabbing screenshots, as well as additional and improved rumble functionality.

While the improved rumble greatly benefits games like Dirt 5 – where you get a real sense of the different surfaces through the controller – the PlayStation 5 haptic feedback and adaptive triggers are in a whole different league, making Microsoft’s efforts seem rather ordinary by comparison.

The sense of familiarity continues when you turn on the Xbox Series X and are greeted by what is essentially the same dashboard as the Xbox One.

This is all part of Microsoft’s strategy of unifying its ecosystem, where content is shared and scaled between devices. No complaints there.

After years of improvements, the Xbox dashboard is the best it’s ever been, but it doesn’t feel particularly fresh or exciting.

Much more exciting are new features like Quick Resume, which lets users speedily switch between different games and continue where they left off.

Once you’ve got a few games loaded up, using the Quick Resume feature is as simple as hitting the Xbox button, selecting a different game from the menu, and waiting a few seconds for your games to switch. 

Think of it like having multiple tabs open on a computer and switching between them. It even works when you turn your Xbox off and back on again.

I did have some issues switching between older games – particularly classic Sega games, strangely enough – although it worked quickly and seamlessly with pretty much everything else. 

As well as being a potentially fun and convenient tool, Quick Resume really highlights the speed and power of the Xbox Series X.

Starting games, loading up the console itself and switching between titles is incredibly speedy. Xbox Series X loads most original Xbox and Xbox 360 games within seconds, and can potentially shave minutes off some of the more demanding Xbox One games.

Judging by pre-release tests on like-for-like games, the loading times seem to be quicker on Xbox Series X than PS5, so that’s a nice bonus.

As you would expect from such a powerful machine, games that have been optimised for Xbox Series X look fantastic and perform smoothly.

Gears 5 and Dirt 5 were the early pace-setters in the looks and performance department, although Assassin’s Creed Valhalla has impressed me in the very short time I’ve had with the game since its midnight launch.

As shiny and smooth as these games look and play, this does, however, bring me to my biggest criticism of the Xbox Series X, which is the lack of killer apps to really kickstart the next-generation.

The Xbox Series X launch line-up features plenty of heavy-hitting third-party releases, but no major console or platform exclusives that really show off the machine’s power.

When you buy a new console you want something that wouldn’t be possible on the devices you’ve paid big bucks to leave behind, and the Series X doesn’t really have that.

Yes, games like Gears 5, Forza Horizon 4 and Sea of Thieves have never looked better than they do on Xbox Series X, but it’s not the same as a brand new game that’s custom built for the hardware.

On the plus side, Microsoft’s Game Pass subscription service has never been more appealing. For £7.99 (or £10.99 if you opt for an Ultimate subscription with multiplayer access), Xbox Game Pass is incredible value for money.

The addition of EA Play titles and Bethesda releases means you’ll have access to literally hundreds of games with your subscription. This includes first-party releases like Sea of Thieves, Gears 5, Halo Master Chief Collection and Forza Horizon 4, as well as third-party hits like Final Fantasy 15, Kingdom Hearts 3, Battlefield 5 and Monster Hunter World.

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With Microsoft’s purchase of Bethesda, you’re also getting games like Doom Eternal, Fallout 76 and Elder Scrolls Online, not to mention future games on the day of release – the next Elder Scrolls, Starfield and inevitable Fallout sequel, for example.

The same is true of upcoming Microsoft games like Halo Infinite, which subscribers will be able to play on day one.

Indeed, get an Xbox Series X with a Game Pass subscription for Christmas, and you may never have to buy a new game again.

With impressive technology powering the device and an excellent subscription service to keep players entertained, the Xbox Series X is a great choice and good value for anybody looking to purchase a powerful new games console this holiday season.

It’s not the most exciting new console ever released, but it’s got the power, speed and potential to make a big impact for years to come.

VERDICT: 4/5

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PS5 pre-order stock: Launch day re-stock times confirmed for this week

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PS5 fans have struggled to pre-order the device ahead of the console’s launch.

The PlayStation 5 has been given a November 12 release date in the US, and a November 19 release date in the UK and Europe.

Unfortunately, however, the console sold out at record-breaking speed, leaving many fans unable to buy one for launch day.

The good news is that despite the stock shortages, retailers on both sides of the pond have announced plans to re-stock the console at launch.

In the US, PlayStation 5 fans can grab the next-gen console from Walmart, where it will go on sale at multiple points throughout the day.

According to a recent tweet by the US retailer, sale times include 12pm ET, 3pm ET, 6pm ET and 9pm ET.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the PS5 will only be available to order online, so don’t visit the stores in person.

“The day you’ve all been waiting for is almost here: the #PS5 is coming 11/12 for online orders only!” reads a Walmart tweet.

“If you missed out on preorders, you’ll have four chances to order throughout the day.”

In the UK, high street store GAME has confirmed plans to re-stock the console at launch.

In an email sent out to fans, GAME announced plans to sell the PS5 online on November 19. With the date still over a week away, GAME advises fans to check back for details closer to the date.

Needless to say, Express Online will keep you updated as this story progresses.

“PS5 console ordering update: The PS5 console will be made available to order online only on launch day, Thursday 19th November,” reads a GAME tweet.

“Units will not be available for in-store purchase, please continue to check back online for further updates.”

It’s no surprise the console is proving so popular, especially with all the positive reviews it has received in recent days.

Express Online has spent some time getting to grips with the new console, and can confirm that the hype is real.

Despite a bulky design and hefty weight, the PS5 console is a true powerhouse capable of delivering some incredible experiences.

Spider-Man Miles Morales doesn’t just run exceptionally well on the new device, but it also supports nifty new graphical features like ray-tracing for better lighting and reflections.

But arguably the real highlight is Astro’s Playroom, which showcases the new DualSense controller.

Thanks to the console’s advanced haptic feedback functionality, it feels like you’re walking on grass, getting battered by heavy winds and skating on ice.

The adaptive triggers, on the other hand, provide extra resistance when your character uses a bow to fire at distant targets.

It’s an incredible new controller with some exciting implications for future games coming to the device.

Check back soon for a full review of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S.

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Mass Effect Remastered Trilogy reveal TODAY? Start time for EA’s ‘awesome’ N7 Day news

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Mass Effect fans – the day you’ve been waiting for could finally be here – with rumours swirling around that a reveal for the Mass Effect Remastered Trilogy compilation is today. EA has teased they’ve got some “awesome” news lined up their sleeve for N7 Day this year. And if the rumour mill is anything to go by, this inbound announcement could be the long-awaited reveal of the Mass Effect Remastered Trilogy.

Rumours of a Mass Effect trilogy compilation stepped up a gear earlier this year when in May EA said they would be releasing “an additional EA HD title” before the end of March 2021.

At the time VentureBeat reported that this mysterious, unannounced title would be the Mass Effect trilogy remaster.

And then just recently in October the South Korea’s Game Rating and Administration Committee issued a rating for something called the Mass Effect Legendary Edition.

In the aftermath of this more fuel has been added to this fire, with Commander Shephard voice actors Jennifer Hale and Mark Meer revealing a big reunion of voice actors from the original Mass Effect trilogy is taking place on N7 Day this year.

Kat Bailey, the editor in chief of USgamer, has said the upcoming announcement is scheduled for 8am pacific time (4pm GMT) and it will drop on the BioWare Blog.

Bailey tweeted: “Can confirm that Mass Effect fans should be expecting news at 8am PT on the BioWare Blog tomorrow. Guessing it’s the remaster we’ve been expecting.”

While VentureBeat’s Jeff Grubb, who earlier this year reported that the Mass Effect Remastered Trilogy was inbound, posted a curious tweet.

As rumours swirled around a big reveal for N7 Day they VB reporter tweeted a blurred image of a piece of cover art, with the Mass Effect logo looking like it appears in the centre of it.

Plenty of fans have taken this tweet as a sign that a Mass Effect Remastered Trilogy could be getting announced very shortly.

One tweeted: “Please, please be ME remaster. I can’t handle anymore pain this year.”

Another posted: “That is definitely a crew photo in front of the N7 helmet (???). Left side is Milky Way, while the right side is the sun (as seen from the Illusive Man’s room).

“This is likely a trilogy remaster, although it could strangely be just 1&2, with a 3rd being a reboot.”

One added: “It is 100% the remaster of the trilogy. BioWare has said months ago that a new ME game is coming but it is many years away, they are still only in the concept art stage. The remaster has been leaked for months by many retailers and insiders. It’s called Legendary Edition.”

And another wrote: “Never played a Mass Effect before guess it’s time”.

Other fans have speculated that we could see a sequel to Mass Effect Andromeda get announced today instead.

The first Mass Effect game launched in 2007 as an Xbox 360 exclusive, with the opening instalment of the epic space RPG arriving on PCs a year later and then on PS3 in 2012.

Mass Effect 2 – arguably the high point of the series and one of the best games of the last generation – launched in 2010 on Xbox 360 and PCs, with PS3 fans getting it a year later.

The closing chapter of the Mass Effect series – Mass Effect 3 – launched in 2012, first on Xbox 360, PS3 and PCs and then later that year on Wii U.

All Mass Effect games have been well received critically, with Mass Effect 2 boasting a mightily impressive 96 rating on Metacritic.

Mass Effect 3, when it was released over eight years ago, did spark huge controversy among a section of the fanbase.

**SPOILERS TO FOLLOW – WARNING**

After being told previously that decisions made throughout the Mass Effect series would have an impact on the closing chapter, fans were left wanting.

The biggest sticking point was the ending of Mass Effect 3, which many who took to social media and online message boards in the aftermath of the game’s release feeling the final moments of ME3 essentially made all previous choices meaningless.

Not all players felt this way, but the massive outcry in the aftermath of Mass Effect 3’s release led to a patch being released which further fleshed out the ending of the game.

It remains to be seen whether this ending could get further tweaked in the Mass Effect Remastered Trilogy, if the rumours of this inbound compilation are true.

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