TIME Video Games

How to Stream Crazy-High Xbox One Graphics to Windows 10

Microsoft

The visual improvements are significant, but is it smooth enough for primetime?

If you own an Xbox One and Windows 10, you can stream Xbox One games to your Windows 10 PC, this much we knew. But an intrepid Reddit user just discovered there’s something Microsoft’s not showing us: namely, a sequestered “very high” quality streaming option, for those with fast enough home networks. I just verified this works myself, and it’s a snap to implement, but fair warning your mileage is going to vary.

Before we get to any of that, here’s how to enable the setting:

  1. Ensure you’ve connected your Xbox One to your Windows 10 machine and test-driven a streaming session (if you haven’t, the file you’ll need to modify won’t exist)
  2. Close the Xbox App on Windows 10
  3. Navigate to the following directory (copy/paste the following in File Explorer): C:\Users\%USERNAME%\AppData\Local\Packages\
  4. Open the long name folder that begins “Microsoft.XboxApp”
  5. Open the folder “LocalState”
  6. Use Notepad to open the file “userconsoledata” (right-click, choose “Open With”)
  7. Find the tag “IsInternalPreview” and change it from “false” to “true”
  8. Save the file
  9. Open the Xbox App on Windows 10, and once you have a streaming session going, click the upper right broadcast settings button and select “Very High”

Back to performance. By default, Microsoft sets Xbox-to-Windows-10 streaming quality at “Medium.” They also include a “Total Bandwidth” view that puts streaming metrics at your fingertips (you can enable it by clicking the icon left of the broadcast settings button).

On my system, just sitting at the Xbox One’s menu screen doing nothing on “Medium,” I can zip left or right through Metro’s tiles with virtually no audio or visual stuttering. My average bandwidth at this setting clocks 1-2 mbps, and quick shifting bumps my max up to 14 mbps, though we’re talking quick, manageable spikes.

Hopping into a Destiny session, visiting the tower hub, knocks my average bandwidth up to 6 mbps (though the max stays at 14 mbps). The visual quality at “Medium,” needless to say, is pretty much as advertised: middling quality, with distant details visibly blurry and a refocusing effect that kicks in each time you twist the camera. Even with your network performing optimally, the visuals look like they’re being upscaled from a significantly lower resolution.

Upshifting to “Very High,” by contrast, appears to offer native 1080p streaming. The Xbox One menu looks pristine at this level, and feels nearly as responsive as in “Medium” mode. My average bandwidth at this setting was slightly higher, about 2-3 mbps, with quick shifting bumping the max up to over 20 mbps, but still completely usable.

On “Very High,” Destiny appears to be visually near-flawless when stationary, though the average bandwidth leapt to 10-11 mbps (I still saw no spikes above 14 mbps during my brief test in the tower). That said, at those speeds, on my otherwise quiet 802.11n home network, once you start moving around you get into trouble. The audio cuts in and out frequently, and the visual feed drops too many frames—the curse of every game streaming service I’ve used, ever, from OnLive to Gaikai to PlayStation Now (it’s why, being enough of a visual snob to care about native graphics and smooth frame rates, I won’t stream games).

In summary then, it’s probably not worth the effort, save as a kind of visual curio—something to fiddle with while we wait for Microsoft to confirm and deliver what everyone’s really after: streaming PC games to the Xbox One.

TIME Video Games

Here Are The Drugs You Can’t Use in Professional Gaming

The ban is effective immediately

The Electronic Sports League (ESL) on Wednesday revealed the full list of drugs it will ban for gaming competitions .

“As the world’s largest and oldest esports organization, ESL has an ongoing commitment to safeguarding both the integrity of our competitions and that of esports as a whole—we wish to ensure we can provide a fair playing field for all participating players,” Ella McConnell, senior editor of ESLGaming, wrote in a statement.

ESL is working with the World Anti-Doping Agency to choose which drugs are prohibited. The current list includes everything from cocaine to steroids to ADHD medication Adderall. Those with legitimate medical reasons for taking Adderall will need proof from a physician.

This follows the ESL’s announcement last month that professional gamers would be tested for performance enhancing drugs, after one player confessed to using the ADHD medication to gain an advantage. As the ESL becomes increasingly popular and prizes get larger, “temptation of rule-breaking [becomes] even greater,” McConnell wrote.

Testing will begin for the first time at the ESL One Cologne this August via skin tests.

TIME

One of the Best Video Games of the ’90s Is Getting a Remake

No timing on a launch date, yet

Resident Evil 2, the classic survivalist horror video game, is making a comeback, Capcom announced Wednesday.

The details are hazy at this point, but the remake is being led by Yoshiaki Hirabayashi under Capcom’s R&D Division 1. Hirabayashi also headed up Capcom’s relaunch of original Resident Evil, which came out this year.

Capcom made the announcement in a video on its website.

“Fans have been asking for an RE2 remake for years now, and we’re happy to finally confirm one is coming,” the company wrote in the blog announcement. “However, as [Hirabayashi] mentions in the video, you’re learning this news practically as fast as it happens, so further updates may take some time. Game development is a long process and the team wants to deliver a remake that lives up to expectations.”

Watch the full video here:

TIME Video Games

Patrick Kane Dropped From EA Sports’ NHL 16 Cover

Patrick Kane
Gregory Shamus—2015 Getty Images Patrick Kane #88 of the Chicago Blackhawks and Team Foligno skates during the Gatorade NHL Skills Challenge Relay event of the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Skills Competition at Nationwide Arena on January 24, 2015 in Columbus, Ohio.

Amid a police investigation

EA Sports is dropping Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kane from promoting its NHL 16 video game because he is under police investigation.

The popular video game company announced its decision on its Twitter account Wednesday. EA Sports says Kane will no longer be a spokesman for NHL 16, nor appear on the game’s cover as previously planned.

Kane was to appear on the cover alongside Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews.

Kane’s lawyer, Paul Cambria, and agent, Pat Brisson, did not return messages seeking comment.

EA Sports’ decision comes less than a week after Hamburg police announced Kane is under investigation for something that may have happened at Kane’s home outside Buffalo on Aug. 2.

TIME

Why Everybody Should Play Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture

The Chinese Room / Sony

An interactive storytelling experiment that at times works wonders

Is Sony’s PlayStation 4-exclusive Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture a game? An interactive narrative? An open-air museum? All three at once?

I’m not sure. I’m also not sure I care that I’m not sure. The whole “is this a game?” back-and-forth seems as silly as the “is this art?” debate. Either way, there’s a frame of mind angle involved in appreciating what developer The Chinese Room is up to. You have to be receptive to its calculated bell curve throw. There’s nothing to fight here, no puzzles to solve, no heads-up display, no larders to stuff (no inventory management) and no scores to settle. As far as I can tell, the game lacks PlayStation phphies, too. [Update: The pre-launch version I played had no trophies, but the launch version will.]

What you can do, is inch along at the speed of a snail, open and close doors and fences, and listen to cryptic audio clips that issue from ringing phones and portable radios droning strings of mathematically ominous numbers. That’s it. It’s “interactive” at roughly the level of an intricate museum exhibit with stations and those little buttons you can push to conjure audio vignettes.

The Chinese Room / Sony

Like Dear Esther, its spiritual predecessor, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture invites you to explore—or maybe the better verb here would be haunt—an uninhabited tract of bucolic Shropshire, U.K., conjuring memories that gradually brick together an elliptical sci-fi-tinged yarn, employing sharp-eared dialogue and promising buildup. Imagine the audio diary portions of BioShock, except here they’re the pièce de résistance, a trickle of tales that meld the terrifyingly inexorable with the inexorably personal. The end of the world isn’t really about the end of the world, but how, given time enough to brood, we’ll go about reacting to it.

But is Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture artful enough in its telling? The title alone seems to be telegraphing that it’s more than a mere sci-fi potboiler, what with its reference to apex eschatology. But is that reference symbolic? Ironic? Literal? I’ve finished the thing and I still couldn’t tell you.

I can tell you the world wrought here looks as beautiful as a this-gen console game should, a sometimes linear, sometimes open swathe of blissful countryside you stroll freely through, espying mist-capped valleys punctuated by bus stops, phone booths, smoking ashtray-filled pubs, vast barns, spooky-looking domed towers, unpeopled flats, golden pastures choked with gently swaying strands of wheat and towering windmills. The weird stuff tends to happen as you amble along and trip (or interact with) trigger points.

The Chinese Room / Sony

In Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, that weird stuff mostly involves light that looks a little like the special effects circling Persis Khambatta and Stephen Collins near the end of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Balls of apparently sentient effulgence prowl intersections like terrestrial comets. Approach one and you’ll hear a susurrus of voices, like the doleful whispers in Lost. Are these the ghosts of the town’s unaccounted inhabitants? Often they’ll lead you to static spheres of energy. Twist the gamepad sideways (I’m not sure what this signifies, it just moves the sphere) and you’ll conjure a spectral memory, the sky blackening to starlight as a cyclonic stream of photons reenacts the scene, the actors physically unknowable save for their voices, which ring loud and clear as they recall a moment leading up to the “event” that culminated in their disappearance.

At first I assumed I was Kate, the first voice you hear as the game opens, a scientist with the laboratory partly responsible for the bit of scientific adventuring that gets the ball rolling. I gradually began to wonder whether I might be nobody, a bodiless phantom gliding from one slow-drip revelation to the next, poring over paranoid bus stop graffiti, the mishmash of artifacts in houses, bloody kleenexes, naturalist books on birds, old Commodore 64-style computers, black and white TVs, sky charts stippled with constellations, and “You are here” maps of the area as I worked out, mostly by following the beckoning balls of light, where to wander next.

Who you are may be a question the developers never answer. A disembodied witness? The actuating medium through which the roving souls of the transformed tell their tale? To what end? Perhaps simply this: to convey a straightforward story slightly out of sequence, with firmer visual parameters, the world and peoples our imaginations might conjure reading a book fully reified and continuously inhabitable here—mental flexibility versus imagistic holism.

The Chinese Room / Sony

That said, the navigational aids can be mercurial to a fault, and it’s easy to get lost once the areas open up. Couple with an inchworm’s gait, and if you mistakenly backtrack or veer off somewhere the little balls of light aren’t tracking, it can take more than a while to find your way back. Mountains of patience and an appreciation for romanticized English scenery are mandatory to seeing the four or five hours it takes to complete Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture through.

What worked least well for me, I hate to admit given my affection for Dear Esther, was the story. Not because it was unclear or poorly told, but because I’d argue it was handled with far more nuance and emotional resonance just last year in writer Jeff Vandermeer’s superlative Southern Reach trilogy. The twists and interpersonal tragedies and vaguely philosophical takeaways that should have been knocking my socks off here thus played more like the echoes of Vandermeer’s more affecting and weirdly analogous ones.

The things I like about Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture are many: the self-paced discovery and chronological asymmetry, the significance of entangling yourself in a visually “complete” environment, the poignance of a well-crafted, well-delivered character exchange. I’m just not sure how often I’d want to repeat the experience. It feels more like a playful experiment (there’s the “game”!) than a breakthrough approach to storytelling, though I admire the attempt, and the skill with which the tale, told in fragments, unfolds.

3 out of 5

Reviewed on PlayStation 4

TIME Virtual Reality

How Does Virtual Reality Work?

It all has to do with a computer doing its best to trick your brain

Everyone’s talking about Virtual Reality, but what exactly is it, and how does it work?

In short, it all has to do with a computer doing its best to trick your brain. A virtual reality headset shows you an image and as soon as you move your head it modifies that image to make it seem like you’re really there. 3D audio can also enhance the experience and make you forget your physical surroundings.

What can this technology be used for? Movies and gaming is an obvious option, but virtual reality has a slew of other possible uses. It can be used for training, medical procedures, and even psychological therapy to treat disorders like PTSD.

With all the possibilities in store for VR, it seems like it’s only a matter of time before it becomes commonplace.

Read more here.

TIME Video Games

This Is World of Warcraft‘s Monumental New Expansion

The world's top subscription game is getting its 6th extension

You’re going toe to toe with the Burning Legion in the next expansion, World of Warcraft wonks. On a mammoth green-backlit stage, wearing black button-ups with arcane symbology, Blizzard’s creative leads unveiled the studio’s sixth expansion to its 11-year-old online fantasy opus at Gamescom 2015 in Cologne.

It’s called World of Warcraft: Legion, and the usual expansion upticks apply: a 10 level character ceiling bump to 110 (and the option to boost one character to level 100), the obligatory new dungeons, raids and world bosses, overhauled PvP progression, new “artifact” weapons (36 total, one for each specialization, customizable, and they get more powerful as you do), class order halls, a new mobility-focused hero class (Demon Hunter, can glide-attack and double-jump, ) and a new continent to explore.

MORE: 11 Things We Learned By Trying Every Virtual Reality Headset Out There

Blizzard says that continent, dubbed the Broken Isles and extant in the lore, lies at the heart of Azeroth, calling it a “long forgotten graveyard continent” and “formerly a bustling Night Elves civilization.” It’s draw is the tomb of Sargeras, another throwback lore point harboring the well-known creator/leader of the Burning Crusade, last seen in a convoluted flashback circa Blizzard’s pre-World of Warcraft real-time strategy entry Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne. Sargeras’s tomb is apparently an active gateway to endless legion worlds, a demonic invasion Blizzard described as bigger than the War of the Ancients, and “the biggest demonic invasion of Azeroth ever.”

The studio also highlighted what it called a bridging cinematic (video below), linking the last expansion, Warlords of Draenor, to Legion. In it, you can see Gul’dan (the hooded orc) exploring the tomb and unearthing Illidan himself, locked in that giant semi-translucent block of green.

World of Warcraft subscriptions have fallen dramatically over the past few years, most recently dropping from 7.1 million to 5.6 million players. In a recent earnings call, Activision said the game is still the top subscription-based title in the world.

We’re still waiting for Legion‘s release date or timeframe. If Blizzard announces one when this presentation is over, I’ll add it here.

Update: The original version of this story incorrectly referred to Illidan as Sargeras.

TIME Video Games

Here’s Why Destiny May Finally Be Coming to PCs

Bungie

Why the online shooter, which boasts over 20 million registered users, isn't on PC yet is anyone's guess.

The implications are guesswork, but the possibilities…well, we can hope, right? Destiny creator Bungie is hiring a PC-compatibility tester, and that much is certain, because it says so right here on Bungie’s career page.

What that page doesn’t say is what said tester would be working on. A game? A peripheral? Something virtual reality related? Or the fabled maybe-yes-maybe-no PC port of Destiny?

“Are you kept up at night by the fear that your drivers might be out of date?” asks Bungie in the job listing. “Do you get more excited than it’s seemingly reasonable about good cable management in a computer case? Do static bags and zip ties have a calming effect on you? If the answer is a resounding “YES!”, then I believe we have a job for you at Bungie.”

The head-scratcher here is why Destiny wasn’t on the PC from the start. There’s no technical reason Destiny couldn’t soar on the platform. The game already lacks cross-platform-brand play, so that’s not the sticking point. And the demographics are a slam dunk: Valve’s Steam, now synonymous with PC gaming, boasts more than 125 million registered users on a platform that’s terra firma for online shooters.

Bungie itself hinted a few years ago that a PC version might be in the offing, admitting “We haven’t said yes, and we haven’t said no.”

Is it just a time and resources issue, as Activision CEO Eric Hirshberg implied last summer when he told Polygon: “You know, developing on PC is a different animal than developing for consoles and so we just want to make sure that we’re putting one foot in front of the other and getting it right, and that it’s of the highest possible quality”?

You’d think a game with more than 20 million registered users—nearly twice World of Warcraft‘s peak figure—could muster developmental support for what even Hirshberg admits would be a “natural fit.”

TIME Video Games

Nintendo Just Announced a Bunch of New Amiibo

Nintendo Amiibo
Nintendo Nintendo Amiibo

Including an 8-bit Mario

Nintendo is expanding the lineup of its popular toys-to-life Amiibo figurines.

The company announced Wednesday that a new wave of Amiibo will hit store shelves on Sept. 11. The standout of the new offerings is a new 8-bit Mario figure modeled after the design of the original Super Mario Bros., which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. The Amiibo will unlock additional content in Super Mario Maker, an upcoming Wii U game that allows players to design their own Mario levels.

Other new Amiibo include Super Smash Bros. characters Zero Suit Samus, Ganondorf, Olimar, Bowser Jr. and Dr. Mario. On Sept. 25, Nintendo will also release a series of retro-themed Amiibo that include R.O.B., Duck Hunt and Mr. Game & Watch.

Amiibo, like Skylanders figures before them, are physical toys that interact with digital games via a special computer chip. Nintendo’s take on the idea has proved a success, with more than 10 million of the figures being shipped worldwide so far.

TIME Video Games

Watch the New Trailer for the Most Anticipated Star Wars Game in Years

Star Wars: Battlefront will have an insane ship-to-ship combat mode

As if the wait for Star Wars: Battlefront couldn’t get any more intense, along comes a trailer showing a new thrilling gameplay mode: Fighter Squadron.

In the upcoming game, you’ll have the opportunity to pilot some of the most iconic Star Wars ships and take to the skies in 20-player aerial dogfights with your friends, parents and that little kid across the street who annoys you all the time.

At Electronic Arts’ press conference during this year’s Gamescom trade conference, the publisher unveiled a trailer for the Fighter Squadron mode that will give gamers the chance to pilot X-Wings, A-Wings, TIE fighters, and even the Millennium Falcon itself. In addition to the 20 player-controlled ships in each battle, the game will allow for up to 20 AI-piloted ships, making for 40 vs. 40 ship-to-ship melees.

“Visually, it’s extremely exhilarating. The sky is crawling of enemy ships, and you see sparks and explosions from ships about to be taken down. On top of that, you’ve got this great music, sound design, and gameplay, making the whole thing feel like an authentic Star Wars dogfight,” said associate designer Peter Forman in a statement on the game’s website.

This comes after EA and developer DICE recently revealed Blast, another game mode that introduces close-combat, Jedi-like fighting in 10 versus 10 team deathmatches between Imperial and Rebel forces.

The game is expected to be one of the biggest titles of 2015, with EA CFO Blake Jorgensen saying in a recent earnings call that the company is expecting to sell at least 9 to 10 million units in the next fiscal year alone. That would put it in competition with this year’s current leader, Mortal Kombat X, and will be comparable to last year’s top-selling video game Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, which moved close to 6 million copies, according to MSN.

Star Wars: Battlefront will be released for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on November 17th.

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