Halo 5: Guardians

A solid campaign and wonderful competitive multiplayer sees 343 finally make its mark on Halo.


Key events

Halo 5: Xbox One X's most impressive 4K upgrade?

Step back for a moment to the year 2015. 343 Industries is releasing Halo 5: Guardians to eager fans the world over. While not completely escaping criticism, the game itself is well received and ultimately, it's a solid shooter with tight gameplay and gorgeous art direction - all delivered at a solid 60 frames per second frame-rate. However, that silky-smooth performance level came at a price: image quality. Xbox One just wasn't powerful enough to resolve everything the game had to offer, but with the release of Xbox One X, there's a strong argument that 343's vision is now fully delivered.

Welcome to the new face of Halo 5 on Microsoft's new six-teraflop console. The blurry mask is peeled back, revealing the full beauty of the original game. It's a revelatory improvement and the remarkable reality is that 343's 4K patch doesn't seem to offer huge improvements to core asset quality. There are some tweaks, improvements and refinements, but the fact is that by increasing resolution and texture filtering quality alone, the game is massively transformed, its inner beauty finally revealed.

In fact, the high resolution now reveals details which were once impossible to see. A case in point is the battle rifle - its rear-mounted display now resolves text detail right down to incidentals like the remaining battery life. It looks like the self-same artwork is used on the standard version of the game, but there simply wasn't the pixel real estate or the definition to actually see all of the intricate details. Perhaps more than any other game at the launch of the new Xbox, Halo 5 demonstrates just how much of an upgrade the hardware is capable of delivering, and while 1080p display users benefit, the 4K advantage is undeniable.

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FeatureShould you buy an Xbox One X?

Finish the fight. Again.

The Xbox One X does wonders for Halo 3. Splashed onto a big 4K telly by Microsoft's ultra-powerful new console, Bungie's decade-old first-person shooter looks better than most shooters released today. I dipped back into Halo 3 while waiting for bigger, well, massive modern games to download onto the Xbox One X's 1TB hard-drive, and Master Chief did a merry dance to my plucked nostalgia-coated heartstrings.

FeatureWhy Halo's biggest problem may be Halo itself

And what Halo 5 might have learned from Halo 3: ODST.

The original Halo Wars ends by putting itself in stasis, with the human warship Spirit of Fire coasting through void - its crew forced into cryosleep, its ultimate relation to the rest of the saga left open for debate. The in-game explanation for this uncertain denouement is the loss of the vessel's Faster Than Light drive. The creative rationale was perhaps Bungie's intense ambivalence about handing the keys to its universe over to Ensemble, developer of the Age of Empires games. Packed with all the floaty jeeps and energy swords a Halo fan could wish for, the plot of Halo Wars nonetheless sits at a careful remove from the numbered Halos, offering a separate cast and events that, for all their dizzying import, never quite overlap with the antics of Master Chief and co. Fast-forward to 2017, and even as the robust-looking Halo Wars 2 approaches release, there's the sense that the Spirit of Fire's fate has become that of Halo as a whole - a mass of trailing story threads and lost souls, waiting for somebody to give it a heading.

Halo 5 update finally adds custom game browser

Over a year after launch, Halo 5 is getting a custom game browser.

The Monitor's Bounty update, due out tomorrow, 8th December, adds a join in progress custom game browser to Halo 5 on Xbox One and Windows 10.

The new custom games browser lets you search for in-progress games from the main menu. Games you can join are based on their privacy settings when they are created in the lobby.

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Halo 5: Forge hits PC in September

Anvil's Legacy update adds new weapons and maps.

Halo 5 players on Xbox One have used Forge mode to create some amazing maps. Remember the podrace from Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace? Earlier this year A Forge expert recreated that in Halo 5.

Halo 5 free to download and play for a week alongside Warzone Firefight launch

Halo 5 gets the big Warzone Firefight update next week - and the full game will be free to download and play to coincide with the launch.

Warzone Firefight, which developer 343 Industries says in the biggest Halo 5 expansion yet, comes out on Wednesday, 29th June.

Then, from 29th June to 5th July, the full game of Halo 5 will be available to download and play for free to all Xbox Live Gold members. The game will be 50 per cent off during the same time.

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Halo 5's beefy Ghosts of Meridian update goes live

Halo 5's beefy Ghosts of Meridian update goes live

Warzone Firefight beta begins next week.

Halo 5 gets a big new update today.

The Ghosts of Meridian update adds two new maps to the Xbox One first-person shooter, new weapons and vehicles and new customisation items.

The new maps are Skirmish at Darkstar (for Warzone) and Tyrant (for Arena). The new set of weapons includes Tartarus' Gavel, a Legendary gravity hammer. There are also a raft of multiplayer updates and fixes as well as gameplay adjustments.

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Hot on the heels of the addition of Warzone Firefight and Grifball to Halo 5, developer 343 has revealed fan-favourite mode Infection is in the works.

People have been using Halo 5's Forge mode for a while now. Indeed some player-created maps were recently added to multiplayer matchmaking. Now, someone's used Forge to create the ultimate Halo 5 map: Princess Peach's Castle.

FeatureBetter than Halo?

Stealth Destiny article.

In the run up to the release of Halo 5, I thought a lot about the state of the series in 2015, how my feelings about Master Chief and Cortana and the endless fight to save the universe had changed over the years, and Destiny.

Halo 5 the "biggest Halo launch in history"

Halo 5 the "biggest Halo launch in history"

But we still don't know how many copies it's sold.

Halo 5 is "the biggest Halo launch in history", Microsoft has trumpeted. But there are a few unanswered questions, chief among them: how many copies has it sold?

This afternoon Microsoft said Halo 5 was the fastest-selling Xbox One exclusive game to-date, with more than $400m in global sales of Halo 5 games and hardware a week after launch.

We're used to big publishers broadcasting how much money their games bring in soon after launch. Activision's Call of Duty: Black Ops, for example,

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It took my Xbox One more than a day to download Halo 5 on an extremely fast connection: the power of the cloud, eh? It felt like I was back on the Dreamcast. But let's be honest, slow downloads are the least of Xbox One's problems: last week I read an article headlined 'The Xbox One is Garbage and the Future is Bulls***.' While I don't agree, it was hard to read about mandatory installs, updates, and other tiresome minutiae without some empathy. We've all been there and, in the grip of frustration, many of us react by letting rip like this.

Halo 5: Guardians review

For developer 343 Industries, the honeymoon period is over. It's been three years since Halo 4 came out for the Xbox 360. Halo 5, built for the more powerful Xbox One, is the studios' second shot at what was once the biggest franchise in gaming. Now, after all the marketing hype, after all the flashy television adverts, after all the fictional investigative audio files on Soundcloud, after all the promoted tweets and the carefully constructed hashtags, has 343 done enough to step out of Bungie's shadow and into the spotlight?

Halo 5 works in much the same way as previous games in the series. The "Golden Triangle" of shoot, grenade and melee is once again core to the gameplay. The "30 seconds of fun" design, where you're thrust into mammoth levels and expertly drip-fed frantic firefights, is present and correct. Your Spartan, a super soldier who wears tank-like armour, feels as powerful and weighty as you'd expect. You really do thunder around the virtual battlefield, smashing through walls, punching aliens and ripping turrets out of concrete.

But this time you're more mobile. The addition of sprint as a default Spartan ability upset some Halo fans when it was revealed, but I find it fits snugly into Halo 5. Your thruster pack powers air boosts, dodges, a shoulder charge and a ground pound move (nail someone with the tricky to pull off ground pound in PVP and you'll find it hard to resist cheering). There's also the addition of a clamber, which lets you climb up onto platforms. All these abilities combine to give Halo 5 impressively fluid movement that helps you quickly and efficiently climb up to the high ground or sniff out flanking positions. The fact Halo 5 whizzes along at 60 frames per second is a wonderful bonus.

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Digital FoundryWhat works and what doesn't in Halo 5: Guardians

Digital Foundry presents its final analysis of the Master Chief's full Xbox One debut.

When it comes to Microsoft's presence in the console space, there is no franchise more synonymous with the Xbox brand than Halo. The original Halo: Combat Evolved redefined the first-person shooter for the console space and helped to make the Xbox brand a success. However, when Bungie, the creators of Halo, stepped away from the franchise in 2010, Microsoft was left with no choice but to build a studio capable of taking Halo forward. That studio is 343 Industries and with Halo 5: Guardians, we get our first taste of the genre-defining shooter running on the latest generation of console hardware.

Playing Halo 5's campaign, you get the feeling developer 343 is being pulled in two opposing directions: one direction heads towards the tried and trusted Halo gameplay perfected by Bungie before Microsoft took over development duties after the release of Halo: Reach, the other direction heads towards a need to grow the Halo franchise while establishing new characters.

Halo 5's day one multiplayer update is 9GB

Halo 5's day one multiplayer update is 9GB

Clan support, aka Companies, detailed.

Be warned: there's a 9GB day one update for Halo 5.

It adds multiplayer to the game, 343 studio chief Josh Holmes said. Specifically, map content for the Arena multiplayer mode as well as the 12v12 Warzone multiplayer mode.

It's a hefty update, but the update will be available to download before the Xbox One exclusive first-person shooter goes on sale on 27th October.

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There's a moment during Halo 5's story campaign when developer 343 teases us. Master Chief, grizzled super soldier and veteran of countless battles, prepares to lead yet another crucial mission on yet another mysterious spaceship full of even more dangerous aliens. He sits in the cockpit of his dropship, iconic dark green space marine helmet in his hands, and stares. As he moves to put the helmet on, the camera pans in such a way as to ensure part of the dropship obscures his face. Then the helmet is on, the tease complete. Almost, but no cigar.

Halo 5's campaign lasts 8-12 hours - if played on normal

Multiplayer update out before the game.

Most developers avoid telling us how long their game campaigns last. They prefer to speak of their stories in vague terms when asked about hours, for fear of putting off prospective customers who might have had an expectation that ends up wide of the mark.

Video: Watch 20 minutes of Halo 5 Warzone gameplay

Halo 5's Warzone mode may be the most interesting thing to happen to the series' competitive multiplayer in years.

The 12 versus 12 mode is set on huge maps, and charges each team with either scoring 1000 VP, or destroying the enemy team's base.

There's more than a whiff of MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) about the design of Warzone, which grants each team computer-controlled soldiers who fight for them - and spawns in Covenant and Promethean enemies dynamically.

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Digital FoundryDigital Foundry: Hands-on with Halo 5: Guardians

Has 343 Industries really delivered a locked 60fps across both campaign and multiplayer?

It's almost time once again to don the helmet of Sierra 117 - the Master Chief. 343 Industries returns for its second shot at the Halo franchise with Halo 5: Guardians. After recently attending a preview event for the game, we walked away with hundreds of gigs of direct feed lossless video, giving us one last chance to examine the title before it ships this October. While this isn't the final build we're looking at here, it's likely very close - and in this case, that's a good thing as the game is shaping up to be something very impressive.

FeatureOn the hunt for Halo 5's spark

Hands-on with the campaign for Xbox's biggest game.

During the Enemy Lines level from Halo 5's campaign, which takes place around halfway through the game, Spartan Locke leads Fireteam Osiris into a huge goldfish bowl of an arena set on Sanghelios, homeworld of the Elites. Arbiter has formed a new alliance called the Swords of Sanghelios, and Osiris lends Master Chief's alien mate a hand in putting down the Covenant. It's all kicking off.

Players won't get to vote on which multiplayer maps are played next, or veto ones they don't like, in Halo 5 Guardians. That's the word from 343 Industries studio head Josh Holmes, responding to a fan question on Twitter.

FeaturePhil Spencer on Xbox's big year

The importance of exclusives, PC, VR and more.

What a difference one man and 18 months can make. Before Phil Spencer took over at Xbox, the brand was in troubled waters. Questionable policy decisions had shook Xbox and mired the early days of its new console in acrimony, and even though Microsoft wisely chose to listen to concerned consumers it's been working hard to regain the momentum lost ever since. As it heads into a vital fourth quarter of 2015, the momentum has definitely returned: the broadening of the Xbox brand to PC was helped by the relatively smooth roll-out of Windows 10, the Xbox division just turned a neat profit and, while it still falls short in sales to Sony's PlayStation 4, its line-up for the remainder of the year looks significantly stronger than its opposition's.

Digital FoundryDigital Foundry vs the Halo 5 Gamescom demo

Impressions and analysis on the latest campaign reveal.

After surviving the difficult months following the release of Halo: the Master Chief Collection, 343 Industries is just about ready to unleash Halo 5 - the first full-blooded new-gen outing for the franchise. In addition to a revamped multiplayer, the campaign's set to last twice as long as its predecessor, with missions spread across three worlds built on an entirely new graphics engine - so we could well be looking at the most dramatic change in series history. This is not the Halo you know and love, but this new creation still has a lot of potential, with 343i intent on winning over and expanding the series' dedicated fanbase. We were given a chance to check out the latest Halo 5 code behind closed doors this year at Gamescom and walked away impressed by what we saw.

Gamescom is a beautiful, hot, noisy mess of a show and an utter delight to visit. Sadly, not everyone can go - and this year, that includes me. But thankfully, we packed Chris Bratt off to tour the show with a camera in hand to capture just what attending the world's biggest gaming show is like.

How's Xbox doing?

Well. Well enough?

Microsoft reported its results for the fourth quarter of its 2015 financial year, and while the company made a gargantuan loss, Xbox and the division it sits in made a tidy profit.

Digital FoundryCan Halo 5 deliver on its 60fps promise?

Digital Foundry assesses 343 Industries' E3 showing.

Echoing the reveal of its predecessor three years ago, Microsoft kicked off its E3 media briefing this year with a first look at Halo 5: Guardians' single-player campaign. A new approach to mission design and a host of new characters combine with a fresh coat of paint to present something that feels both new and familiar. Last December's multiplayer beta already highlighted a number of changes to the core formula, but it's only with this new demo that we're able to fully appreciate this new direction and to get a real idea of the full scope of 343's vision for its first true 'next-gen' Halo.

New Xbox One Experience this autumn

UI overhaul complete with Cortana voice assistant.

There's a New Xbox One Experience - a UI overhaul - coming this autumn. And Cortana, Microsoft's Halo-themed answer to Apple's Siri, is coming with it.

Our first look at Halo 5 campaign gameplay

Microsoft revealed gameplay footage of the Halo 5 campaign during its E3 2015 press conference.

In the video, below, we see the Spartan team sent to hunt Master Chief, who is one step ahead of Locke, Buck and co.

We see Covenant and Promethean enemies, as well as the new Spartan movement abilities, such as the air boost and ground pound. We also get a gander at the squad commands, a weapon called the Plasma Caster and a tracking visual effect.

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Digital Foundry: Hands-on with the Halo 5 beta

Digital FoundryDigital Foundry: Hands-on with the Halo 5 beta

Is 343 Industries on-track in delivering a true generational leap?

Ushering in the new year, the Halo 5: Guardians beta opens the gates to 343 Industries' rewritten Xbox One engine, its dedicated servers, and its strike out for full 60fps playback. The three-week sampler is very addictive as is, even with months of development left, showing a game that is recognisably still Halo at its core. But have the opportunities offered by the Xbox One hardware affected the gameplay balance from previous games at all - or is this all just about surface?

Map rotation is in its second phase now, leaving behind the industrial Empire and the covenant-themed Truth map (based on Halo 2's popular Midship) in favour of the arcade inspired Breakout, plus Regret and Eden. We've been playing the beta for a while now, so our focus for this piece is on the original two stages, but even with the new maps in play, it's clear that 343 Industries still has its laser-focus on 4v4 slayer games for the purposes of testing.

A close comparison with Halo 4 in its Master Chief Collection guise is illuminating. Although Halo 5's pace is improved by the addition of new moves, such as ledge-grabbing and mid-air boosts (bearing an uncanny similarity to Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare's agile controls), the technical advances behind the game are largely focused on the visual effects running over the top. On paper this is the least we can expect from an Xbox One rendition of Halo, but in practise it has a range of repercussions, both for better and worse.

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Halo 5: Guardians beta will weigh in at 10.27GB - report

Microsoft's Halo 5: Guardians beta will take up 10.27GB of space on your Xbox One hard drive, according to a leaked listing spotted by Reddit.

The install size was spotted via a game page for the beta that was briefly available on the Xbox One's games store.

It looks like the page was made visible in error - it lists yesterday's date as the beta's release.

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Is Halo 5's competitive multiplayer a drastic departure or a return to the series' roots? For me, having played the game for a few hours, it's a bit of both. Fresh and familiar, Guardians' PVP walks a fine line between giving Halo the kick up the arse it perhaps needs on Xbox One, and staying true to what made Bungie's seminal first-person shooter series so special.

Halo 5: Guardians multiplayer beta is 720p, 60fps

Halo 5: Guardians multiplayer beta is 720p, 60fps

First officially-released gameplay footage within.

The Halo 5: Guardians multiplayer beta outputs at 60 frames per second and a 720p resolution, developer 343 has confirmed.

Studio head for Halo 5: Guardians Josh Holmes told Eurogamer the resolution of the Xbox One exclusive first-person shooter is subject to change as development continues over the coming year.

"For the beta, at this point we're totally focused on gameplay," he said.

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Smart Scoping with Halo 5: Guardians' multiplayer beta

FeatureSmart Scoping with Halo 5: Guardians' multiplayer beta

343 goes back to Halo's roots - with all mod cons.

The first time I played Halo 5: Guardians' competitive multiplayer it felt odd because I could zoom in and fire the Assault Rifle.

Ah, the Assault Rifle - the Mario of Halo's arsenal. The default gun, the classic all-rounder: good at close range, big clip, wide spread. And, in every Halo game, fired from the hip.

But in Halo 5: Guardians, 343 Industries' second Halo game and its first for the Xbox One, firing the Assault Rifle from the hip is no longer the only option. In Halo 5: Guardians, you can zoom in and use a scope for precise damage. What's going on?

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Halo: Nightfall to debut on 10th November

Along with a first look at Halo 5: Guardians' multiplayer beta.

Halo: Nightfall, the Ridley Scott-produced live-action series about Bungie's popular sci-fi saga, will debut on Monday 10th November via Xbox Live, Xbox.com and Twitch.

Halo 5: Guardians beta runs three weeks from December 29th

Halo 5: Guardians beta runs three weeks from December 29th

Plus: Halo Channel and Halo 2 Sanctuary map remake announced.

At Microsoft's Gamescom briefing 343 Industries announced that the Halo 5: Guardians beta will run for three weeks this winter, from December 29th 2014 to January 18th 2015.

The beta - which you can get access to by buying November's Halo: The Master Chief Collection - will concentrate on 4v4 arena gameplay across seven maps and will run at 60 frames per second from dedicated servers. There will be three modes, 11 weapons and seven armour sets you can customise your Spartan with. There will be some unlocks in the beta that you'll be able to carry forward into Halo 5 Guardians itself.

There is also the fair start system, so all players start a match with the same loadout.

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Halo to stay Xbox One exclusive - for now

Halo to stay Xbox One exclusive - for now

"We're listening to the PC fans..."

Halo was once on PC. Will it ever be again?

With Halo: The Master Chief Collection, due out later this year, and Halo 5: Guardians, due out in 2015, announced for Xbox One only, it seems PC players are being left out in the cold.

"Right now we are focused on Xbox One," Bonnie Ross, who runs Halo franchise overlord 343 Industries, told Eurogamer.

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343's master plan for Halo 5: Guardians

"We can no longer say we're new to this franchise."

At E3 last week, Microsoft executives and developers wouldn't talk much about Halo 5: Guardians, but we did glean some information about 343's approach to the upcoming Xbox One exclusive first-person shooter.

Halo: The Master Chief Collection includes Halo 1-4

And a Halo 5 beta key, and Halo Nightfall TV series.

Never played Halo? Microsoft and 343 are stuffing all the mainline Halo games into one box - and remastering them - for Xbox One. Introducing Halo: The Master Chief collection, due out 11th November 2014.

Microsoft announces Halo 5: Guardians for Xbox One

Microsoft announces Halo 5: Guardians for Xbox One

UPDATE: Concept art released. Due "fall of 2015", but our "journey" will begin this year.

UPDATE 16/5/14 2.20pm: The first slice of concept art from Halo 5: Guardians has been released via Halo Waypoint.

Writing in a blog post there, 343 Industries' Frank O'Connor also emphasised the developer's previous statement that the journey towards Halo 5 in 2015 will begin this year, and that another announcement was seemingly on the way.

"Last year at E3, Bonnie [Ross, 343 studio head] famously said, 'Your journey begins in 2014…'. Wait - hang on - you thought: 'What journey is she talking about and why is Chief wearing a poncho?' Okay, some might call it a cloak, but the fact remains - you knew something more nuanced was afoot. So it's quite likely that Bonnie's 2015 release announcement today surprised no one in the Halo community.

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Xbox One launches in Japan 4th September

Xbox One launches in Japan 4th September

Will it suffer the same fate as its predecessors?

Xbox One launches in Japan on 4th September, Microsoft has announced.

According to Famitsu (translated by Gematsu), Xbox One games set to launch in Japan include Forza 5, Kinect Sports Rivals, Sunset Overdrive, Halo on Xbox One, Dead Rising 3 and Ryse: Son of Rome.

A raft of Japanese companies are making games for the system, including Arc System Works, Bandai Namco, Capcom, Cave, CyberConnect2, From Software, Konami, Level 5 and Sega.

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Voice of Master Chief says Halo 5 is out 2015

And Halo 2 Anniversary Edition is out this year.

Backing up reports from earlier this year, Steve Downes, the voice of Master Chief, has said Halo 5 won't launch until 2015. For this year, we can expect Halo 2 Anniversary Edition.

FeatureDevelopers' Most Anticipated Games of 2014

Titanfall! Destiny! The Witcher 3! The Last Guardian (hopefully)!

2014 is upon us, and it promises riches and glory unlike any year before it. With their launches under their belts, the next generation of consoles will, hopefully, show us what they're made of. Virtual reality headsets may make their mark on the mainstream. And with a raft of crowdfunded games due out over the next 12 months, 2014 should tell us whether all that money we pumped into promising projects on Kickstarter was worth it.

Microsoft confirms Xbox One adaptor for Xbox 360 headsets

Microsoft has confirmed that it will release an Xbox 360 headset adaptor for use with Xbox One.

The company previously announced that it had changed the audio input port to a proprietary jack for its upcoming console, a move which leaves current headsets incompatible. The company then said that it was "working to develop" an adaptor.

"We will have an adapter that allows current gaming headsets to work," Microsoft marketing exec Albert Penello confirmed on Twitter (thanks, X360A).

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Xbox One records the last five minutes of your gameplay

Xbox One records the last five minutes of your gameplay

UPDATE: But how long does PlayStation 4 give you?

UPDATE: As reported below, Xbox One will record the last five minutes of your gameplay. But there's been confusion around exactly how long PlayStation 4 will do the same.

SCEE's Neil Brown was heard to say "seven minutes" at a Develop 2013 talk in Brighton last week - much less than the 15 minutes previously reported. Sony has now told Eurogamer that Brown corrected himself when queried by an attendee after the session concluded, and that his script had read "several".

We've hosted the talk in full via the embed below. For the relevant section, skip forward to just after the 33 minutes mark.

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A list of every confirmed Xbox One game

A list of every confirmed Xbox One game

From Assassin's Creed to Zumba Fitness.

Below lies a list of every Xbox One game confirmed to date, split into titles exclusive to Microsoft's new console and multiplatform releases.

Some games on the list we've known of for a while - Crytek's Roman action game Ryse, for example, or Square Enix's Thief. Others were revealed this week during Microsoft's game-stuffed E3 press conference, such as Capcom's Dead Rising 3 or the free-to-play Killer Instinct.

Of the multiplatform games, a few are console exclusives but will also appear on PC - Respawn's Titanfall, for example, which is currently not in development for any Sony platforms, and Project Spark.

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