April is here, and it comes with a feature-packed update to Xbox One. We unveiled some of these new features on the premiere episode of Inside Xbox last month (and I did a walk through of the features on Inside Xbox episode 2). This month, we’re announcing that they’ll become available to Xbox One owners around the world over the next few days. Here’s a quick rundown of what to expect:

Video & Display

We’ve added a bunch of new video features we hope you’ll enjoy, starting with Auto Low-Latency Mode (or ALLM for short). Auto Low-Latency Mode enables the family of Xbox One devices to notify your display when you’re playing a game, so a TV that also supports ALLM will know to switch to its low latency video mode. Many displays refer to low latency mode as “game mode.”

Gamers will also enjoy the newly introduced support for variable refresh rate output to AMD Radeon FreeSync and FreeSync 2 compatible displays. AMD Radeon FreeSync is a form of variable refresh rate which helps to reduce input latency and minimize display stuttering, delivering a buttery-smooth visual gameplay experience in your favorite games. The entire Xbox One family of devices will work with FreeSync-certified displays. Xbox One S and Xbox One X will also support high dynamic range with AMD Radeon FreeSync 2.

In addition, Xbox One X and Xbox One S now support output at 2560 x 1440 (1440p) resolution for games and media. With over a million and a half more pixels than 1080p, this resolution offers even more choice between Full HD and 4K displays. This feature should be especially appealing to Xbox One owners who use a 1440p display for PC gaming. Media apps can now add an option for 1440p output for on both Xbox One X and Xbox One S.  Developers can also now enable games to run at native 1440p resolution on Xbox One X.

You can enable all these video options from the Settings menu on your Xbox One.  Just navigate to “Display & Sound,” then “Video Output.” Note that you’ll only be able to turn on these settings if your TV or monitor supports them.

Streaming & Captures

This month, we’re also introducing a new Mixer Interactive feature called Share Controller. Mixer streamers on Xbox One can now share control of their game with a viewer on Mixer.com. Just turn on the “Share Controller” toggle from the Broadcast & Capture section in Guide and your viewers will be able to share control through a virtual controller in their web browser, or by plugging a physical controller into their PC.

You can also now start Mixer broadcasts from anywhere on Xbox One, making streaming easier than ever. If you decide to switch games or exit to the dashboard, your viewers will see a pause animation until you jump back into a game. You will also see a pause animation on your broadcasting status bar on your screen.

In addition, you can now share captured screenshots and clips directly to Twitter, after authenticating your account, from the Broadcast & Capture tab of the Guide. Shared captures will now display and play directly in your Twitter feed instead of showing up as a link. We’ll also help you get your content discovered by suggesting a hashtag for the title of the game. Want to follow clips shared by Xbox gamers? Track clips with the #XboxShare hashtag!

Xbox Insiders have seen this option for a while, but now everyone can choose to switch between light and dark themes on your Xbox One based on the time of day. You can also personalize your theme to automatically transition from dark to light based on sunrise and sunset in your location. We’ve also added a new high-contrast light theme option, which makes on-screen elements easier to see.

Audio & Ease of Access

Based on fan feedback, we’re making additional improvements to Narrator on Xbox One. Narrator volume can now be adjusted independently from system audio volume. We’ve also introduced a new input learning mode to the Narrator menu. With input learning mode enabled, the Narrator on Xbox One will say the name of whatever button you press on an attached input device. High contrast light theme and narrator options can both be adjusted in the Ease of Access menu in Settings.

If you love to stream music while gaming, you will be happy to hear that you can now selectively balance game audio against background music within the Guide. Simply navigate down to the app that is playing background music in the Guide. Press “A” to open a new flyout with additional music controls, including a new slider that will allow you to adjust the balance of background music and game audio.

We’ve also made audio enhancements in the Xbox One dashboard itself. System sounds on Home and in the Guide have been completely revamped to support spatial audio, so the audio cues from your surround sound system will match the actions you see on-screen.

Apps

The Microsoft Edge browser on Xbox One has been updated to a more modern look and feel. Enhancements to history and favorites make it easy for you to get back to your favorite sites. Other new features include tab muting, read aloud and autofill. You can also now download and upload pictures, music, and videos from Microsoft Edge on Xbox One; your downloaded content can then be browsed with the File Explorer app.

Clubs, Game Hubs & Tournaments

Community tournaments are now available directly in Game Hubs for supported games. This means you no longer need to own or be the admin of a club to create a tournament.  To get started, open the Game Hub for a game that supports tournaments.  Head to the “Multiplayer” tab and select “Community tournaments” then choose the option for “Create tournament.”

Club feeds have also gained new filters to show you “what’s new,” “what’s hot” or “top posts.” Additionally, you can now lock the comments on your feed posts across clubs, Game Hubs, and Community, so the only person in control of the narrative is you.

If you’re a club owner or admin, you can now filter invitation requests based on several criteria, including Gamerscore, play time, reputation, Xbox Live Gold status, and recommendations from club members. Club invitation filters will persist until the administrator changes them, so if you set or edit club invitation filters, they will still be there the next time you sign-in.

In addition to all these new features on Xbox One, a subset of users may also see additional experimental features that we didn’t mention here. These features are only enabled for a portion of the Xbox audience to gauge interest and collect feedback.

Many of our Xbox Insiders have already had the chance to play with these features. If you would like to join them, getting started as an Xbox Insider is easy! Just download the Xbox Insider Hub app on your Xbox One or Windows 10 PC and select your desired ring. Visit the Xbox Insider blog here for release notes.

Bree White, Global Product Marketing Manager on the Xbox Team, shares details about the new Combat Tech Special Edition controller releasing later this month.

Last spring, we debuted the Xbox Wireless Controller Tech Series – a line of special edition controllers inspired by military technology and performance patterns found in combat vehicles. Today, we’re excited to announce the third controller in the Tech Series, the Xbox Wireless Controller – Combat Tech Special Edition.

Pre-Order Xbox Wireless Controller – Combat Tech Special Edition from Microsoft Store

The Xbox Wireless Controller – Combat Tech Special Edition embodies a traditional army color palette with its classic Military Green base color (the same Military Green offered through Xbox Design Lab), bright orange accents and military insignia. Like the Recon Tech and Patrol Tech controllers that came before it, the Combat Tech controller features a textured laser-etched grip on the front of the controller and rubberized diamond grips on the back to help you stay on target. In select regions, you’ll get 14-day trials for Xbox Live Gold and Xbox Game Pass. The Xbox Wireless Controller – Combat Tech Special Edition will be available for $69.99 USD and will start shipping to participating retailers worldwide, including Microsoft Store, on March 27.

The first of the controller in the Tech Series, Xbox Wireless Controller – Recon Tech Special Edition, launched last spring and comes in a sleek, dark grey military design.  The second controller in the series is the Xbox Wireless Controller – Patrol Tech Special Edition that launched in the fall. It features a dark blue military design. Both controllers are available for $69.99 USD at select retailers worldwide including micrsoftstore.com.

All Xbox Wireless Controllers are compatible with the Xbox One family of devices and the Tech series controllers include the fan favorite features you know and love, a 3.5mm headphone jack and Bluetooth technology for gaming on Windows 10 devices or Samsung Gear VR. You can also take advantage of the custom button-mapping feature through the Xbox Accessories App.

Visit xbox.commicrosoftstore.com, Microsoft Store or your local retailer for more information.

 

Bill Stillwell, Lead Program Manager on the Xbox Platform team, provides an update on the Backward Compatibility program including new enhanced Xbox 360 titles and a new feature.

Starting today, four new Xbox 360 titles will be enhanced for Xbox One X, which includes The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, Forza Horizon, Fable Anniversary and Crackdown, the newest addition available now in the Xbox One Backward Compatibility library. We’re also excited to release a new graphics setting for enhanced Xbox 360 titles on Xbox One X to give you more control over your gaming experience.

Xbox 360 games that are enhanced for Xbox One X run at a higher resolution and 9X the original pixel count on Xbox One X. The power of Xbox One X enables the Xbox 360 emulator to showcase the very best version of the game possible with the existing assets—all without touching the game code. Today’s additions join the seven previously released Enhanced Xbox 360 titles like Halo 3, Skate 3, and Gears of War 3 for a total of 11 Xbox One X Enhanced Xbox 360 games.

Here is the full list of Xbox 360 games that are in the Xbox One X Enhanced catalog:

When you play Enhanced Xbox 360 games on Xbox One X, you can now choose how to experience them—with enhanced graphics or in their original form. Enhanced graphics will be turned on by default, running your game with higher resolution, 9X the pixel count, increased texture details and antialiasing, allowing you to enjoy greater visual clarity than ever before. If you turn off the Graphics setting, the graphics will be comparable to the experience on Xbox One or Xbox One S. Here’s how to access the setting. Note, once you change the setting, you’ll need to restart the game:

  1. Press “View” and “Menu” buttons on the controller to pull up the Xbox 360 guide
  2. Navigate to “Settings” blade
  3. Select “Xbox One X Settings”

 

  1. Select to optimize for “Graphics” or “Performance”

We’re thrilled with the continued excitement for Xbox One Backward Compatibility—the community has played more than 840 million hours of Xbox 360 games on Xbox One. Compatibility is important to Xbox, to developers and their games, and our community. Preserving the art form of video games is part of our DNA, which is why Xbox One is the only console designed to play the best games of the past, present and future. We’re excited to continue to deliver on our vision of compatibility and grow our current Backward Compatible library, which includes more than 460 Xbox 360 games, 11 Xbox One X Enhanced Xbox 360 titles, and 13 Original Xbox games.

Last month, gamers worldwide got to experience fantastical pirate adventures firsthand, as Rare welcomed the community into the Sea of Thieves Closed Beta. As we approach the global launch of one of the most anticipated Xbox One exclusives for 2018, we’re pleased to announce the Xbox One S Sea of Thieves Bundle, offering prospective pirates the best value in games and entertainment alongside Rare’s highly anticipated shared-world adventure. Games play best on Xbox One, making it the perfect place to jump into Rare’s unique multiplayer adventure.

Pre-Order Xbox One S Sea of Thieves Bundle from Microsoft Store

The Xbox One S Sea of Thieves Bundle will be available starting March 20, 2018 for $299.99 USD at a Microsoft Store near you and online, as well as participating retailers worldwide and is available now for pre-order. The bundle includes:

*An Xbox One S with a 1TB hard drive, Xbox Wireless Controller, a built-in 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player, support for 4K video streaming, High Dynamic Range and premium audio with Dolby Atmos. With over 1,300 great games including over 200 console exclusives – from the biggest blockbusters and most popular franchises to 400 titles across three generations of Xbox classics – there’s never been a better time to game on Xbox One.

*A full-game download of Sea of Thieves, allowing you to dive into the game’s shared-world on release day exclusively on Xbox One. Form a crew and take to the open ocean on voyages to discover buried treasure, solve puzzling riddles, secure precious cargo and combat a wide array of challenges. In a world where every sail signals a ship crewed by real players with unique goals and motivations, you never know what lies over the horizon.

*A 1-month Xbox Live Gold subscription, so you can experience the thrill of the high seas with the greatest community of gamers on Xbox Live, the fastest, most reliable gaming network.

*A 1-month Xbox Game Pass trial so you can discover over 100 Xbox One games with unlimited across three generations of consoles. Xbox Game Pass members will also receive access to new games from Microsoft Studios like State of Decay 2 and Crackdown 3 on the same date as their global launch.

Looking for additional pirate plunder? The Xbox Wireless Controller – Sea of Thieves Limited Edition will let you fight, sail and loot in style. Available now for $74.99 USD, the controller features a deep purple translucent design, adorned with laser etched barnacles, one treasured golden trigger and haunted by a mysterious glow-in-the-dark skull. The controller comes with the exclusive Ferryman Clothing Set for your Sea of Thieves character, a 14-day Xbox Live Gold trial and a 14-day Xbox Game Pass trial at no additional cost. In addition the Seagate Special Edition Sea of Thieves 2TB Game Drive for Xbox will boost your console’s storage capacity, while the Controller Gear Limited Edition Sea of Thieves Xbox Pro Charging Stand and Controller Gear Limited Edition Sea of Thieves Xbox One Controller Stand V2.0 will help display your treasure in style. These accessories are available for pre-order now for $89.99, $49.99 and $14.99, respectively.

Already have an Xbox One? Jump into the immersive multiplayer world of “Sea of Thieves” on March 20 with Xbox Game Pass for $9.99 a month, or preorder for $59.99.  With Xbox Game Pass, you can enjoy unlimited access to over one hundred great Xbox One and Xbox 360 titles, including fan-favorites like Halo 5: Guardians, Gears of War 4, and Bioshock. Starting with Sea of Thieves, all future Microsoft Studios games will launch day and date on Xbox Game Pass, providing an additional option to set sail on day one.

Pre-Order Sea of Thieves for Xbox One from the Xbox Games Store

For more information, visit xbox.com. And for the latest on Sea of Thieves, stay tuned to SeaofThieves.com and Xbox Wire.

 

 

[ 💬 Larry Hryb ] @majornelson

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Games play best on Xbox One, but if you haven’t already made the jump, we’ve got a couple great deals kicking off as early as today for Xbox One S and Xbox One X.

In the U.S. and Canada, there are great savings on Xbox One S bundles, including the new Xbox One S PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds Bundle launching February 20 and available for pre-order today.

  • In Canada, starting today, February 15, through February 23, save $60 CAD on 1TB Xbox One S bundles
  • In the U.S., starting February 18 through March 3, save $50 USD on Xbox One S bundles

Also, back by popular demand, we’re bringing back the offer where every Xbox One X purchase will come with a digital copy of the Xbox console launch exclusive PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. The promotion will be available in most Xbox One markets for a limited time – starting February 18 through March 4. Start and end dates will vary by market – in the U.S., the promotion runs from February 18 through February 24 – so you’ll want to check with your local retailer for more information including, Microsoft Store near you or online. Here’s a quick overview of where the promotion will be available:

  • Available in Canada, Ireland, the United Kingdom, the United States and select Latin American countries starting February 18
  • Available in Australia, India, Korea, New Zealand, Singapore and select European, Middle Eastern and African countries starting February 20

The Xbox One gaming experience features a robust library of titles with more than 1,300 games and 220 exclusives available today, including Backward Compatible titles that make Xbox One the only console system to play the best games of the past, present and future. It’s also the only console where you can play the hottest game on the planet, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, now with more than 4 million players across the Xbox One family of devices.

In addition to having a comprehensive games library at one’s fingertips, Xbox One X and Xbox One S owners have access to a full suite of exclusive services like Xbox Game Pass, Xbox Play Anywhere and Xbox Live – the fastest, most reliable gaming network. Fans can also enjoy the ultimate 4K entertainment experience with a built-in 4K UHD Blu-ray player and premium audio with Dolby Atmos support.

Whether you’re gaming on Xbox One X or Xbox One S, there’s never been a better time to join your friends on Xbox.

For more information on Xbox One, visit xbox.com or Microsoft Store.

Since its release as a console launch exclusive on Xbox One in the Xbox Game Preview program, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) has reached incredible milestones, most recently surpassing 4 million players across the Xbox One family of devices. We’ve been blown away by the response to PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds on Xbox One and today, we’re excited to announce the Xbox One S PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds Bundle, offering fans the best value in games and entertainment with the hottest game on the planet.

Launching February 20, the Xbox One S PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds Bundle includes:

*An Xbox One S with a 1TB hard drive, Xbox Wireless Controller, built-in 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player, support for 4K video streaming, premium audio with Dolby Atmos and access to a games library of over 1,300 games like Forza Motorsport 7 and Cuphead.

*Full-game download of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. Join the battle playing solo, or team up with friends in duos or squads. With the Xbox One S PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds Bundle, you’re one step closer to earning your first chicken dinner.

*1-month Xbox Live Gold trial so you can experience the most advanced multiplayer network.

*1-month Xbox Game Pass trial so you can discover over 100 Xbox One games across three generations of games. Xbox Game Pass members will also receive access to new games from Microsoft Studios like Sea of Thieves, State of Decay 2 and Crackdown 3 on the same date as at their global launch.

The Xbox One S PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds Bundle will be available for $299.99 USD at participating retailers worldwide and is available for pre-order today. For more information, visit xbox.com or Microsoft Store, near you or online.

There’s never been a better time to join your friends in the ultimate battle royale experience on Xbox. See you on the battleground!

Phil Spencer, Head of Gaming at Xbox, discusses a major update to the Xbox Game Pass program. Details below:

When we launched Xbox Game Pass in June 2017, we knew we wanted to craft a service with gamers in mind. That meant a diverse, expanding library of over 100 games and counting, matched with one monthly price and unlimited access to download and play full-fidelity experiences.

We’ve been blown away by the incredible response. Following launch, we heard from fans around the world who wanted Xbox Game Pass in their country. In September, we expanded globally and Xbox Game Pass is now available to fans in 40 countries. We’ve also continued to expand the catalog with new games added to the Xbox Game Pass library every month, so there is always something new to play.

We know our fans value having a variety of games to play at a low monthly price. We’ve also heard from fans that the ability to play new blockbuster games in Xbox Game Pass is important. So we’ve continued to explore new ideas to make this possible.

Today, we’re excited to announce plans for a major expansion to Xbox Game Pass that underscores our commitment to deliver our fans the ultimate gaming subscription service.

Moving forward, we plan to release all new Xbox One exclusive games from Microsoft Studios into Xbox Game Pass on the same date as their global release. This means that when Sea of Thieves launches on March 20, it will be included in Xbox Game Pass to all members.

This plan to bring new games timed with their global release into Xbox Game Pass not only includes announced titles like Sea of Thieves, State of Decay 2, and Crackdown 3 but future unannounced games from Microsoft Studios including new iterations of our biggest Xbox One exclusive franchises such as Halo, Forza and Gears of War, on the same day they launch.

Our fans have also asked for more choice in the subscription offerings available for Xbox Game Pass. As part of today’s library expansion, we are also pleased to announce that we are working closely with our retail partners, such as GameStop, to offer a 6-month Xbox Game Pass subscription card for those fans who look for a variety of ways to purchase and enjoy new games and services. The 6-month Xbox Game Pass subscription card will be available at select retail partners for $59.99 beginning March 20. By working closely with retail partners, Xbox Game Pass will have valuable ambassadors in popular destinations for gamers to discover new and exciting games and enjoy community.

With the addition of more great games, new blockbuster releases and a new subscription offer, we are giving fans more choice and value in how they discover and enjoy games – purchase games for their permanent library or play through Xbox Game Pass for one low price.

We’ve only scratched the surface of the opportunity this new model brings to the industry and what we can deliver to our fans. We firmly believe Xbox Game Pass will be a catalyst to create new opportunities for game developers and publishers to innovate in the way games are developed and delivered, leading to entirely new ways to play.

We’re truly humbled by the incredible response we’ve received to date for Xbox Game Pass, and we look forward to offering an unprecedented choice and value with Xbox Game Pass this spring and beyond.

Phil Spencer
Twitter: @XboxP3
GT: P3

Bradley, Xbox Insider Team Lead, shared some updates coming to Xbox Insiders. Details below:

We’re excited to return in 2018 with new features that impact the way you access your games and Achievements, how you let your friends know whether you’re available to play, and much more. Over the next several weeks, Xbox Insiders will begin to see a variety of cool new features they can interact with and provide feedback on. Here’s a look forward at some of the excitement still to come:

*Starting today at 6 p.m. PST, Xbox Insiders enrolled in the Alpha ring will receive the latest Xbox One system update (1802.180105-1503). With this update, you’ll be able to use the “Next Achievements” feature in the Guide, which enables you to view and sort a cross-games list of upcoming Achievements. Easily see which Achievements you are closest to, and quickly launch the game to obtain them. Sort filters allow you to prioritize next Achievements by closest, most common, rarest, most common rare, and highest Gamerscore.

*Mini Game Hubs will soon be available right in the Guide. With this feature, you’ll be able to access great content for the games you’ve played recently from a Game Hub without ever having to leave the action. Mini Game Hubs provide an easy way to see friends who are currently playing, upcoming Achievements, Looking for Group posts, and more.

*Sometimes all you want to do is avoid all distractions and focus entirely on your game. We’ll be including a “Do not disturb” online status, which will suppress notifications and let your friends know that you’re not available for another game or activity right now.

Comments in Community*We’re tweaking the community feed to make it easier to view comments. You’ll soon be able to see a peek of the most recent comment on community posts while viewing the activity in full screen. Comments are also being rearranged to place those that are most recent at the top. You’ll also be able to see who has liked your comments.

*To address user feedback, we’re adding additional inactivity shutdown options to the Power mode & startup menu. In addition to shutting down the console after one or six hours of inactivity, you will be able to select options for two, three, four and five hours.

*Put your themes on a schedule! You’ll soon be able to switch between light and dark themes based on time of day.

Alongside the updates listed above, which will work their way naturally through the Xbox One Update Preview rings, a subset of users may also see additional experimental features. These features are only enabled for a portion of the Xbox Insider audience to gauge interest and collect feedback. Your participation in the Xbox Insider Program helps us make the work-in-progress content and features coming to Xbox even better.

Editor’s Note: Scheduled themes was added to the list of features on 1/9.

For more Xbox Insider news, check out the Xbox Insider portal at Xbox Wire.