Cast your mind back to Xbox One's launch in 2013 and a few big games stand out, with Killer Instinct one of them. As Microsoft's flagship fighting game, it offered a long overdue revival of Rare's classic franchise, enhanced with the latest 3D console technology. Every impact forced an explosion of alpha and lit particle effects - an obvious upgrade on Xbox One over what was ever possible on Xbox 360 - and it all ran at 60 frames per second. It was a sample of what the machine could bring to the table graphically this generation. But there was a downside: Killer Instinct - at launch - ran at just 720p on Xbox One.
Of course, the game was later patched to run at 900p. But even early on, it highlighted a limit to the original Xbox One's handling of higher resolutions, a point reinforced by other 720p games at launch, like Battlefield 4. For those wanting to see Killer Instinct at the best image quality possible, you had to wait for PC - unlocking resolutions up to 4K. That is, until the Xbox One X patch that lands with the hardware's launch, on November 7th.
And this is a highly welcome upgrade. Killer Instinct will be the first console fighter to ever run at a native 4K. With that, Microsoft can well and truly put any criticism of image quality in Killer Instinct to rest - the game looks amazing. Compared to the 900p image on a standard Xbox One, the vault in quality is highly impressive. Fixed at 3840x2160 all the way through, it sets a precedent on console, in a world where PS4 Pro's best efforts seem to top out at 1440p with titles such as Injustice 2 and King of Fighters 14.
Have your lucky controller automatically sign in as you.
Xbox One is receiving an update today adding a huge host of new features.
One of the most exciting for many is the long teased ability to upload custom Gamerpics, Club profile pics, and Club backgrounds. You'll be able to upload your own photos via the console, a Windows 10 PC, or through the Xbox App on smartphones. Such pics will be subject to the Xbox Live Code of Conduct to prevent inappropriate imagery from popping up.
This update also introduces co-streaming, allowing up to four friends to join a single broadcast.
Microsoft has revealed its four Games with Gold free offerings for Xbox Live Gold subscribers in January.
Xbox One titles include tower-defence ARPG hybrid World of Van Helsing: Deathtrap, which will be available for the entirety of the month, along with fighting game Killer Instinct Season 2 Ultra Edition, which will be available from 16th January through 15th February.
Xbox 360 players, or those using the Xbox One's nifty backwards compatibility feature, will receive Double Fine's platforming adventure The Cave from 1st-15th January, while the second half of the month will replace this with Rayman Oranges.
Ports from Xbox One to PC are rapidly moving forward as Microsoft aims to converge the two platforms into one. Cross-system play, transferable save data and a unified online player base are the key highlights in this approach. Killer Instinct seems like a natural fit for this system, and for the most part the translation over to PC has gone fairly smoothly, though not without a few minor issues. UWP troubles still crop up with download errors and occasional crashes during gameplay, but thankfully not to the extent that we saw with Gears of War Ultimate Edition.
But on a core visual level how much has actually changed from the Xbox One release with the move to an evolving platform offering up vastly more powerful hardware? Well, Killer Instinct is geared towards a 60fps update, with gameplay synced to output correctly at that refresh rate, and this seems to have played a large role in shaping the PC version. Unlike many cross platform titles that take advantage of more powerful PC hardware to deliver a sizeable leap in graphical quality, here the developers focus on keeping system requirements low, allowing users to easily hit 60fps on modestly-specced systems. The idea is to open up the game to as many players as possible - not just those with expensive PCs.
As a result the same core assets and effects work are present across Xbox One and PC. A number of graphical settings are available to configure, ranging from texture and shadow quality, to toggle options for anti-aliasing and motion blur. But these only allow us to reduce quality levels below the Xbox One game, with resolution the only major upgrade path on offer. The maxed-out PC experience essentially boils down to just one upgrade - slightly improved texture filtering - leading to detail appearing clearer when viewed from oblique angles. It's a minor enhancement, mainly noticeable across the ground during intros and post-fight sequences, where fine detail in these areas tends to pop out a little more.
Killer Instinct Season 3 arrives 29th March on both Xbox One and Windows 10, Microsoft has announced.
In it are eight fighters although only four available at launch. They are Rash from Battletoads, Arbiter from Halo, Tusk and Kim Wu. There are embedded videos of the fighters' Ultra combos over on the Killer Instinct website (it's running slowly at the moment).
Price and pre-purchase options for Season 3 are to be confirmed.
A series of new details have emerged regarding Killer Instinct's second season, which is launching on Xbox One on 15th October.
As reported on the Xbox News Wire, developer Iron Galaxy's follow-up to Double Helix's fighting game reboot will introduce eight new characters in a revolving rotation of free-to-play fighters. The cast includes returning Killer Instinct cast members like TJ Combo and Maya along with robot dinosaur Riptor and man-on-fire Cinder. There will also be new characters including "an ancient Babylonian sorcerer, an avenging ghost, [and] a battle-hardened war golem," in addition to a completely unannounced fighter.
Beyond adding new fighters, Iron Galaxy is rebalancing the cast of Season One, improving the interface to allow faster character selection and stat tracking, and adding a new progression system allowing players to level up individual characters and tailor their appearance.
The Ultra Edition contains Killer Instinct 2 Classic.
Killer Instinct Season Two will arrive on 15th October, Microsoft Studios has announced.
Developed by Divekick studio Iron Galaxy, Killer Instinct's second season will feature eight new characters, with TJ Combo and Maya leading the pack. It will also include new game modes and a overhauled interface.
As with the first season of Killer Instinct, this will be a free-to-play offering, but you pay to keep characters permanently unlocked. Otherwise you have to play as whichever character is free at the moment. TJ Combo will be the first of these for Season Two.
Last month Killer Instinct developer Double Helix was purchased by Amazon, leaving the free-to-play Xbox One-exclusive fighting game's fate in the balance. Microsoft said that a new studio would be coming on board to continue its development as new content is introduced, and it turns out that developer is none other than Iron Galaxy, the fine folks who made minimalist fighter Divekick as well as Street Fighter 3: 3rd Strike Online Edition.
New ranking system introduced, several bugs fixed.
Xbox One-exclusive free-to-play fighting game Killer Instinct has received its first major update to go along with its free trial character, Jago, getting replaced with the ferocious furry Sabrewulf.
As detailed on developer Double Helix's forums, the version 1.1 update fixes loads of issues with the game, like save data getting deleted when signing in with Kinect.
Additionally, the ranking system has been retooled to accommodate a playing field consisting of more high level players. Now you can actually lower your rank by trying to tackle high level players and losing, while you can also grind to a higher status by taking out a lot of lower level players, as explained in the chart below. For the full list of changes, head on over to the Double Helix's forums.
Fighting games are hard. For many they're impenetrable. Sure, you can do a hadouken; that quarter circle forward motion is ingrained in the psyche of most gamers of a certain generation, but beyond that? Well, things get complicated. And online? Forget it. Destroyed in the blink of an eye bruised by yet another meaty dragon punch.
So we come to Killer Instinct. Finally, a Rare classic made modern by the power of next-generation processors. But then, as more information trickled into view, reality bit deep down into our rose-tinted euphoria. For all the wide-eyed producers Microsoft's swollen Redmond-based Studios operation could throw at it, for all the passion veteran designer Ken Lobb could infuse in the project, and for all the feedback Rare, the creator of the original Killer Instinct housed half the world away, could send in emails read at the end of the British working day, the principal developer of Killer Instinct was Double Helix, creator of Silent Hill Homecoming, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and, er, Battleship.
Oh, and by the way, it's free-to-play, but you have to pay to buy characters. In a fighting game. I remember thinking, on the plane home from E3 in June, what a disappointment Killer Instinct would surely be. And yet, against all odds, Microsoft has produced a fun fighting game with a smart business model that's well worth a download after you unwrap your fancy new next-gen Xbox.
UPDATE: Retailers list loads of different bundles.
UPDATE: Now that the Xbox One release date has been announced retailers like ShopTo and GAME have begun taking pre-orders.
There are several bundle options available. The Day One Edition of Xbox One already comes with a digital copy of FIFA 14, a commemorative controller, wired headset, wireless controller and HDMI cable. Additionally, Shopto has bundles that include Battlefield 4 and £15 of Xbox Live credit for £489.85; a copy of Forza Motorsport 5 and a year subscription of Xbox Live Gold for £499.85; Dead Rising 3 with the same Gold subscription for £519.85; or a second wireless controller with a year-long Gold subscription for £504.85.
Curiously, both Game and Amazon have a listings for an Xbox One Day One Edition that includes Forza Motorsport 5 instead of FIFA 14 for the same standard price of £429.99. My hunch is that this isn't a proper Day One edition, but rather the standard Xbox One with Forza included in lieu of FIFA, but I'm following up with Microsoft to see if this is the case. More on that when I hear back.
NEW UPDATE: It's emerged from last night's Microsoft showcase that Killer Instinct will be a digital release available on day one - and that it will be free-to-play. Jago will be the only character available in the free version, with others unlockable for an as-yet-undisclosed price, as reported by IGN.
UPDATE: The developer of the new Killer Instinct game is Double Helix.
Double Helix is the US developer of Silent Hill: Homecoming, Front Mission Evolved, the Green Lantern and Battleship games.