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Microsoft’s Acquisition of Obsidian and inXile Entertainment Has Us Very Excited About the Future of Single Player Games on Xbox




X018 came with great news for single-player gamers: Microsoft has purchased more single player focused studios.

Earlier this year, the studio-starved software titan announced that five new studios would be joining its ranks. Now, Microsoft has announced two exciting new acquisitions: inXile Entertainment and Obsidian Entertainment.

For those unenlightened by both studios, what this essentially means for Xbox fans is even more promising single-player content.

Obsidian Entertainment, who was rumoured to be acquired by Microsoft last month, is legendary for its RPG expertise. The studio was made infamous with games such as Fallout: New Vegas, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II, and Pillars of Eternity, with much of its output being multiplatform. Now, the studio’s expertise and imagination will be locked to Microsoft, filling that RPG gap on its console.

inXile Entertainment was a surprise purchase. That studio, too, has massive RPG pedigree, with its debut game, The Bard’s Tale, being a modest success. Since then, the developer has gone on to release Wasteland 2, an isometric epic, as well as Torment: Tides of Penumbra, a spiritual successor to Planescape Torment, along with a litany of other releases. Most importantly, the studio is currently developing Wasteland 3, which is set to release on PlayStation 4, too.

Matt Booty, Corporate Vice President of Microsoft, released a statement following the news, and sounded understandably excited at the acquisitions:

“While they do share a common heritage, the two creative teams at Obsidian and inXile are very different. They will continue to operate autonomously with their unique talents, IP and expertise. As part of Microsoft Studios, Obsidian and inXile will have the support and freedom to fully realize their creative ambitions on both existing franchises and new RPG projects.”

Of course, one major addition both studios will enjoy with Microsoft is extra funds. Reportedly, Obsidian Entertainment’s last game, Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire, sold well under expectations and, financially-speaking, independent life appeared to be piling on the financial strain. With Microsoft, despite its patchy record, the studio will hopefully find more stability, resources, and support to complete its future games.

The same can be said of inXile, although it hasn’t shared the same financial woes as Obsidian. inXile was a surprise buy, but a smart one. The studio has loads of potential and all it needs is some trust and funding to reach its goals. The studio’s adaptability and capability to succeed under pressure was proved by its work on Wasteland 2, which had an enormous amount of crowdfunded fan hype.

Notably, inXile represents evidence that Microsoft has done some self-realisation and analysis. The Xbox is an RPG wasteland, which is a major genre in the single-player market. By identifying two RPG studios, one of high caliber and one with a lot of room to grow.

Mending the RPG gap between itself and its competitors, Microsoft has shown that these were not random buys, but calculated acquisitions by the company.

Xbox has been hampered by its lack of first-party games this generation and has, perhaps unconsciously, segregated itself from the single-player market. Whilst the Xbox One X could boast better processing power and graphical output, the main appeal in any console is the games. Single player games especially were left out in the cold by Microsoft in recent years following less than stellar sales for Ryse, Sunset Overdrive, and Quantum Break, but these acquisitions hint at an exciting future.

With Microsoft’s recent acquisitions, there’s bound to be exciting competition between all three of the major console providers within the next generation.

At last year’s E3, OnlySP’s Damien Lawardorn wrote that “E3 2018 saw Microsoft making its strongest pitch to date: [offering] value to those who prefer to play their games alone.” At X018, the Microsoft did this once again, which hopefully will reignite the company’s credentials in single-player gaming.

Between Ninja Theory, Compulsion, inXile, Obsidian and Playground Games, who are presumably working on the next Fable, there’s a lot to be excited about over the next few years. Whether or not the games will be any good remains to be seen, but at least Microsoft is finally making the effort.

What do you make of Microsoft’s purchases? Can you see them going over well? Can you trust the company given its previous treatment of first-party studios?

For more on the world of single-player, be sure to follow OnlySP on FacebookTwitter, and YouTube. 


Three Single-Player Games to Watch Out for in July 2019



Three Single Player Games (July 2019) - Sea of Solitude, Fire Emblem Three Houses, Wolfenstein Youngblood

July, the middle of winter down here in Australia. Even in the bizarre New South Wales climate, the biting cold makes for a great excuse to stay inside and play games. 

Weirdly for single players, quite a few prestige games this month include additional co-op modes. With acclaimed designers behind them, such games will hopefully avoid the pitfalls of accommodating multiple players, as too many games have done in the past.

Sea of Solitude

Release Date: July 5, 2019
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One

At first blush, Sea of Solitude looks like yet another story of a young adult struggling with questions of identity and mental health while exploring a beautiful but harsh fantasy world.

Actually, that’s what it is. ‘Quirky, life affirming indie adventure’ is a whole cottage industry these days, but the fact that such games are now more prevalent should never dismay.

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice was a masterpiece of refined design and storytelling, and Sea of Solitude appears be something similar—this time dealing with a fantastical vision of depression that turns ordinary people into literal monsters.

Players take charge of Kay, who has sought out the eponymous Sea—or rather, a flooded city based on Berlin—in the hope that there is a cure for monstrosity. However, despite its name, she is not the only person in the Sea. Avoiding the other monsters of the Sea seems to be a major part of the gameplay. These tense encounters are likely to provide rhythm and variety to the adventure and keep it from being a just walking simulator. (Not that being a walking simulator is inherently a problem.)

Although published by EA Originals, one would do well to remember that EA the company does not actually profit off the Originals that they publish. With a focused story and themes that still are not often explored in bigger games, Sea of Solitude should be of great interest to single player fans in a month otherwise dominated by multiplayer titles.


Fire Emblem: Three Houses

Release Date: July 26, 2019
Platform: Nintendo Switch

Almost certainly the biggest single player release of the month, and tied with Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 as another massive Switch exclusive, Fire Emblem: Three Houses might be exactly what single players need right now.

Lately the Fire Emblem franchise has exploded in both its popular profile and sales success, buoyed by a hunger for both deep anime RPGs and polished tactics games. Three Houses seems to have doubled down on exciting trends and features in both genres: particularly a Persona/Harry Potter inspired magic school setting and an even deeper tactical battle system that ditches the rock-paper-scissors for more nuanced character progression options. As with many Japanese RPGs, the story is also a major focus and hinges upon a time-jump.

The early part casts the player as a teacher at the Officer’s Academy, situated in the center of the game world and attended by students from the three most powerful nations. Five years later, the second and likely larger part concerns the drama between the player’s teacher and their former students, whose nations are now locked in a massive three-way conflict.

As is to be expected for a series finally coming back to consoles after a long time on the 3DS, Three Houses is a massive technical leap over its predecessors. The game boasts better realised battlefields, more detailed armies, and a slick animated style that appears much more consistent compared with the three or four different art styles on the 3DS.

With such improvements, as well as the overall pedigree of the Fire Emblem brand, Three Houses should have no trouble satisfying single player fans looking for a meaty middle-of-the-year RPG.

Wolfenstein: Youngblood

Release Date: July 26, 2019
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One

The recent Wolfenstein revival series is such a remarkable achievement in traditional shooter design and great, if goofy, sci-fi worldbuilding that the co-op focus of this latest instalment is somewhat disappointing.

Yes, as with F.E.A.R. 3 and Dead Space 3, following a well-received second chapter the Wolfenstein series now pivots to a co-operative focused chapter. Though the game is not a mandatory multiplayer experience, combat encounters and puzzles have been redesigned to accommodate the two player mode, giving single players an AI-controlled partner and bullet sponge enemies.

However, all hope is not lost for Wolfenstein: why else would it be the third game on the list? The narrative has been pushed forward in time, as B.J.’s twin daughters are now in their adolescence, now giving players a glimpse at the 1980s of Wolfenstein‘s skewed universe. Additionally, the level design itself is more freeform thanks to development assistance from Arkane, the developers of the Dishonored series.

Will Wolfenstein: Youngblood successfully deliver more of the series’s goofy charm and crazy alternate reality? Almost certainly. On the other hand, will the game be as fun to play alone as in multiplayer? That remains to be seen. Last month’s E3 demo that raised such concerns was naturally only a snapshot of a game in development, so MachineGames and Arkane have had plenty of time to resolve these potential downsides to a co-op focused game.

Those are our three big single player games to look out for this month. Other interesting titles coming soon include Stranger Things 3 on July 4 and Attack on Titan 2 on July 5, both games hitting Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

On July 12 we will see the sequel to an almost-fantastic Minecraft-like RPG spinoff, Dragon Quest Builders 2 on Switch and PlayStation 4, as well as the Switch port of “anime Monster Hunter”, God Eater 3

The week after, July 19 brings us Switch-exclusive Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order, and at an undetermined time during the month Klei Entertainment’s anticipated survival-sim Oxygen Not Included will finally leave early access on PC.

Have we missed anything that you’re looking forward to? Let us know in the comments below and be sure bookmark OnlySP and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. You can also join the discussion in our community Discord server.

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