Entertainment |

Can’t hit the courts? Get your sports fix on Xbox instead

By Joshua Appadoo August 11, 2020

Since the dawn of video games back in the ‘70s, sports games have been a yearly guarantee. Basketball, golf and even cricket are all available right now on Xbox Game Pass for you to enjoy in the comfort of your own home. Whatever your passion is, Xbox has got you covered – sporting ability and professional fitness not required.

Imagine this: it’s the final quarter, you’re at home, controller in hand, squaring off against the TV on the other side of the room. The crowd is yelling, the lights are bright – you just have to sink that last basket. Sounds just like the real thing, right?

Flying in with the jump shot is NBA 2K20 – an absolute classic since the year 2000. 2K20 brings all the fun of courts, nets and shots straight to you! Relive championship matches such as Lakers vs Knicks or Bulls vs Heat and play them out how you imagine. Or if you’ve ever dreamed of playing in the NBA yourself and think yourself an absolute star, create your own player and dominate the courts and help them rise to the top of the league to become the next big name in basketball.

NBA 2K20 - Xbox

Bringing in a flashback from childhood Golf with Your Friends is here to provide many hours of entertainment! Whether you just want to muck around on the green with your mates, or are lining up that professional trick shot for a hole in one, you can do it all here. Jump straight into the action with classic mode – which is the mini golf we all know and love, where standard rules apply – or if you’re up for a challenge, try your luck at party mode! With party mode you can now hit other balls out of the way to better your chances, collect power ups to change the game completely; just make sure to watch out for traps along the way to your victory.

Coming in clutch – since we probably won’t see a proper match for quite some time now – is Ashes Cricket. Take Australia to the top in a standard league bracket (Or England, if you must…) and smash the competition, or even take your own star player through their career and make them the next big name in cricket since Don Bradman. Whatever your play style Ashes Cricket can provide hours and hours of fun, either on your own or with your mates online. The pitch is calling so download it now on Xbox Game Pass.

Ashes Cricket - Xbox

Even without many sports running at the moment, there’s no reason to let your passion and drive for them fade. Up the ante and competition with these fun sports titles which are all available right now on Xbox Game Pass; I hope I’ll see you on the courts, the greens and the pitch!

You can take on the challenge of all these sporting codes through Xbox All Access, our gaming bundle package that includes an Xbox One X or One S console and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate for digital access to a huge line-up of titles.

Entertainment |

Looking back at Halo, 20 years on in gaming

By Joshua Appadoo July 24, 2020

When you think about the pioneers of gaming, a lot of titles come up – but for many gamers, one stands out above the rest. Even people who don’t usually play games, or haven’t heard of many, know this one: Halo.

Back in 2001, developers Bungie and publishers Microsoft put their first foot in the door of modern console gaming with Halo, a first-person action shooter which would go on to be a best-selling title for the Xbox for years to come, spanning seven main titles and four spin-off games, uniting a generation of gamers both young and old.

The first game was the one that initiated many people’s burning passion for the series – Halo: Combat Evolved. Releasing in November of 2001 as a launch title for Microsoft’s first entry into the console world as well, the original Xbox. Halo: CE would go on to sell over a million copies in its first five months of release, and would receive a whopping total of 48 awards in various categories, including from The Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences, Electronic Gaming Monthly and IGN. Halo is often praised as one of the greatest video games of all time.

Three years later, Microsoft would go on to release Halo 2. Building on its narrative with protagonist Master Chief and following him on more adventures, Halo 2 would also go on and revolutionize the multiplayer FPS (first-person shooter) scene for gamers globally. Even if you weren’t playing Halo 2 at the time, FPS games for years to come felt and looked the same and used similar gameplay mechanics. Similar to the success of its older brother, Halo 2 won many accolades and awards from the media and gaming community, selling 1.5 million copies in preorders three weeks before release! By this point, it’s safe to say that Microsoft was onto a winner.

From here, Microsoft built a little suspense in its fanbase  – it worked for three years before releasing another entry in the Halo series. In September of 2007, the most-loved and treasured Halo game launched: Halo 3. More often than not, if you ask someone their favourite Halo game, it’s Halo 3. Halo 3 is iconic in its own right and stands atop a mighty pedestal for amazing narrative and multiplayer gameplay. Amassing an incredible $170 million in sales on its first day in the US alone, Halo 3 was well-received everywhere.

Four years later, Microsoft took a tangent in the Halo franchise, this time not following our usual protagonist Master Chief. Halo: Reach would release in September of 2010, and (as per usual) was immediately loved by fans globally. Taking place a few weeks before Halo: Combat Evolved in the series’ timeline, Halo: Reach tells the story of the planet of Reach and humanity’s attempt to save it from the Covenant Empire. Grossing $200 million on launch day alone, Halo: Reach smashed yet more records! This title would also be developer Bungie’s last entry in the series, handing the reins over to 343 Industries for Halo 4.

If you missed any of these incredible games as they came out back in the day, fear not – you can play them all on Xbox Game Pass right now in The Master Chief Collection. All the games have been remastered and reworked for the modern Xbox. Multiplayer is back in all forms, and it’s better than ever! Xbox Game Pass is bundled with a brand new Xbox One as part of our Xbox All Access offer at one low monthly subscription price.

So after all these years and many, many Halo titles, you’d surely think Microsoft would be done…definitely not! Many fans are eagerly awaiting the release of the next installment of the tales of Master Chief with Halo Infinite! We’re ready to take on more adventures later this year, too, as Halo Infinite launches alongside the brand new Xbox Series X later this year.

Entertainment | Tech and Innovation |

A recipe for culinary adventures: our Telstra game review of Overcooked! 2

By Joshua Appadoo July 17, 2020

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 disloyal Onion King
  • A pinch of salt
  • And a paraphrased HP Lovecraft novel

Put all of these together and it’s a recipe for adventure in the Onion Kingdom! Overcooked! 2 brings fun, antics and culinary greatness into the home with easy and satisfying arcade mechanics that the whole family will enjoy.

In Overcooked! 2, it’s your job as one of the Onion Kings’ great chefs to help mop his mess in and out of the kitchen. As it turns out, the Onion King has read from the mysterious and dangerous Necro-NOMNOM-icon – HP Lovecraft is turning in his grave at this – and has raised the ‘Unbread’ from their graves. It’s now up to you to help clean up and feed these zombified, ravenous slices of sourdough.

Using your vast culinary background you’ll find yourself slicing and dicing your ingredients, boiling and frying your appetizers, and plating up gorgeous masterpieces – with the help of up to four friends or family, on either Xbox Live online multiplayer or sharing a screen in the comfort of your own home! Many culinary dishes await, from sushi to salads, to cake, pasta and pancakes; serve all of it in a rush to starving customers before the time runs out to get the highest score possible!

Along your journey as the animal personification of Gordon Ramsay, you’ll come across many challenges in the world of Overcooked! 2. Platforms that will require you to work together with a friend to get to the destination are a regular occurrence, as are portals teleporting you across the level and walkways moving in reverse to slow you down.

If by any chance you’ve been searching for that one game that can keep you engaged, bond the family together, or just to chill out and have some fun with a mate, Overcooked! 2 can do it all. Whether you’re an experienced Halo warrior or if you’ve never touched a controller before, this game delivers. If you want to work with a buddy to assemble the perfect method and tactics to get the highest score possible, or if you want to kick back on the couch and relax, Overcooked! 2 is the game to play.

Overcooked! 2 is available right now on Xbox Game Pass and it is sure to tickle your fancy – and if not, there’s a tonne of other titles available right at the touch of an Xbox controller. Xbox Game Pass is part of our Xbox All Access offer, which gets you an Xbox One game console and controller as well as digital access to over 100 games for one low monthly cost.

Entertainment | Tech and Innovation |

Looking for games to take you away? My pick is Sea of Thieves

By Joshua Appadoo June 30, 2020

International travel used to be such a pleasant activity to look forward to, maybe once or twice a year. Since we’re mostly staying put around Australia that’s obviously not as easy at the moment, but it’s okay – because we have games to give us that sense of adventure!

This period of working and studying from home gives some of us time to polish off that backlog of games, or if you’re like me, to add more games to the backlog and hope to finish them at some vague point in time in the distant future. There are many great games that can help satisfy that wanderlust, such as Deliver Us The Moon, Disneyland Adventures and even Fishing Sim World Pro Tour.

What’s that on the horizon for me though? It’s Sea of Thieves! This “pirate life simulator” has had a massive overhaul since its release in 2018, with the inclusion of more life-like elements such as cooking, fishing and more diverse animal and plant life than the game originally featured. These are welcome additions that allow for a bit of downtime between the otherwise frantic action and treasure hunting.

When it comes to action, Sea of Thieves is definitely enjoyable as a solo playthrough – as long as you don’t mind a challenge. For the full experience, though – and to have the most fun – make sure to grab a mate or two (who also have an Xbox to play along) to give you a hand digging up all that wondrous loot.

Sea of Thieves includes a degree of character customisation that reminds us of casual RPG games, allowing you to choose and express yourself through your avatar’s appearance however you see fit! Once that’s sorted, it’s on to the high seas in your very own ship – which, like your character, also allows you to customise it how you’d like.

Sea of Thieves - Xbox

Don’t forget that as you sail around it is up to you to keep your ship repaired; make sure you fix up all those cannon-shot holes in the hull! Sea of Thieves has some elements of realism – repair and upgrade your ship with materials you will collect on your journey, and after a battle make sure to patch up those holes and dump that water back out to sea. If you don’t, you’ll find out what the ocean floor looks like.

Sea of Thieves’ beauty really shines when you realise just what kind of a multiplayer game it is – there is no correct way. Where some games will force you to play and act in certain ways, Sea of Thieves really gives you the freedom. Do you want to command a crew and rule like Blackbeard? – go for it! Do you want to be the solo lone wolf, surviving on the fringes, hunting where you see fit? – do it!

Sea of Thieves - Xbox

There really is a chest of treasure to be opened for every player in this game. If you want to give it a taste, you can enjoy it and many other travel adventures in the comfort of your home on Xbox Game Pass right now. If you don’t happen to have a gaming console of your own yet, you can get an Xbox One and Xbox Game Pass subscription together as part of our Xbox All Access offer – for one low monthly price, only with Telstra.

Entertainment | Tech and Innovation |

Minecraft Dungeons review: dungeon-crawling fun comes to Minecraft

By Joshua Appadoo June 16, 2020

Minecraft has dominated gaming sales over the last decade, with almost 200 million copies sold worldwide – it definitely deserves that “top-selling game of all time” title. The creators of Minecraft are back again with a new game and a fresh spin on the classic Minecraft style: Minecraft Dungeons.

Taking its style cues from dungeon-crawling titles such as Diablo and randomly generated games like FTL: Faster Than Light, Minecraft Dungeons has emerged, giving both new players and long-time fans of Minecraft the opportunity to play through a brand new campaign filled with action, adventure and loot! If you are curious to see this game in action, check out some extended gameplay here.

This time around, our adventure through the world of Minecraft sees us plundering dungeons in an action-filled role-playing game genre – either by yourself, with your friends online, or with the family on the couch with up to three other players at once. This game is definitely an experience to be enjoyed with friends! In Dungeons, you move through the world on a mission rather than building a base like in the original game.

In Minecraft Dungeons, your player can take on mobs of enemies with a plethora of melee weapons and attacks – or take them out from afar with a vast array of ranged weapons, or even muscle your way through the mobs like a heavily armoured tank. The choice is yours – which like the original Minecraft, means that Minecraft Dungeons has very high replayability. This is a good thing – the near-limitless combinations of making no two playthroughs the same.

You can also personalise your character as you see fit! Unlock new items, weapons and enchantments that allow you to customise your character’s equipment to suit your play style. We know that kids love changing outfits in Minecraft, so it’s good to see this in Dungeons too.

Part of what makes the game fun is the goal of exploring every corner of each level – searching for loot, loot and more loot. There is plenty of treasure to be found on your journey to save and protect the villagers as you take down the evil Arch-Illager.

All in all, after spending a fair few hours with this game – and already being a pretty big Minecraft fan – it’s hard not to like Minecraft Dungeons. Taking out all the complicated character builds and difficult combat strategy that makes other games in the genre harder to get into, Minecraft Dungeons makes it an easy foray into the world of dungeon-crawling games. It’s a fun, yet challenging, game that’ll keep you playing and searching for that extra bit of loot for hours on end.

Minecraft Dungeons is available now on Xbox One and Xbox Game Pass, which you can get for yourself in Telstra’s Xbox All Access bundle. Find out more info about Xbox All Access here.