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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

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microsoft

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. 

Editorial

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

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May

May offers no respite from the big, bold games that have released so far in 2019, bringing with it a host of games almost certain to appeal to gamers of every stripe.

Close to the Sun

Release Date: May 2, 2019
Platforms: PC, consoles later in the year

May’s first major release may also be its most intriguing. Close to the Sun has regularly attracted comparisons to BioShock for its art style and premise, though the relationship between the two titles is, at best, spiritual.

Players take the role of journalist Rose Archer as she steps aboard Nikola Tesla’s ship, the Helios in 1897. Like Andrew Ryan before him (or after him, depending on perspective), Tesla has created a microcosm in which scientific freedom is unrestricted, with disastrous outcomes. Rose’s first impression is of a quarantine sign at the entrance to a still, dead ship, but she presses on regardless in search of her lost sister.

With Close to the Sun, developer Storm in a Teacup aims to provide an intense horror experience. The Helios holds none of BioShock’s shotguns or Plasmids. Instead, players have no means to defend themselves, with gameplay focusing on hiding from and escaping the threats on board.

Check out OnlySP’s final review of the game here.

RAGE 2

Release Date: May 14, 2019
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

For anyone to whom the slow, meditative approach does not appeal, Bethesda is busting out the big guns with the long-awaited, little-expected sequel, RAGE 2.

This time around, id Software has tapped Just Cause and Mad Max developer Avalanche Studios for assistance in developing an open-world game. The result, if the trailers are any indication, is a breakneck, neon-fuelled experience that focuses on insanity and ramps up all the unique aspects of the earlier game.

One focal point of development has been ensuring the interconnectedness of the game’s structure, and the teams have promised a greater focus on narrative this time around. Perhaps in keeping with that, RAGE 2 is being distanced from its predecessor, taking place 30 years later with a new protagonist and a whole new story, though some callbacks will be present.

Although id’s legendary first-person gunplay is a driving force throughout the game, it will be supplemented by some light RPG elements, robust vehicular combat, and post launch challenges and support (though the developers deny that RAGE 2 is designed with a games-as-a-service model in mind).

A Plague Tale: Innocence

Release Date: May 14, 2019
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Out on the same day as RAGE 2 is the vastly different A Plague Tale: Innocence. A historical adventure, the game challenges players with overcoming obstacles with brains rather than brawn.

Players become Amicia, an orphan girl struggling to survive in a plague-infested medieval France while also keeping her younger brother safe. With the landscape rife with rats and members of The Inquisition, one of the core tenets of gameplay is reportedly the need to use these threats against each other. As such, though Amicia has a sling to use, the gameplay is designed more as survival puzzles than combat ones.

Developer Asobo Studio is not a household name, though it has a lengthy history of adaptations and support on major titles, including Quantum Break and The Crew 2. Furthermore, even though A Plague Tale is yet to release, publisher Focus Home Interactive has displayed remarkable confidence in the project by extending its partnership with Asobo.

Honourable Mentions

Although RAGE 2 is the incontestable action-blockbuster of the month, gamers in search of another kind of frenetic may want to wait until May 21, when Curve Digital drops American Fugitive, which has a more than passing resemblance to the earliest Grand Theft Auto games. Alternatively, PlayStation VR owners may want to look into Blood and Truth come May 28.

Sega also shines this month, dropping Team Sonic Racing on May 21 and Total War: Three Kingdoms two days later.

Anyone looking for an RPG has indie’s answer to The Outer Worlds, Within the Cosmos, to look out for on May 30, while those looking for slower stories get the latest episode of Life is Strange 2 on May 9, Observation on May 21, and the fjord-noir Draugen at a yet unspecified date.

Have we forgotten anything that you’re excited for? Let us know down below or on our Discord server.

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