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 |

Xbox Games Showcase: the future is bright for the Xbox family

By Campbell Simpson July 24, 2020

A few short months from the launch of the powerful new Xbox Series X console, Xbox has shown off the largest games lineup in console history. It was a tour de force of 10 world premieres and 22 games built to launch exclusively on Xbox consoles amongst dozens more – and they’re all coming to Xbox Game Pass.

Here’s just a taste of some of the titles you can look forward to on launch day: Halo Infinite, the most ambitious Halo game ever created, with bigger battles and a world several times larger than the last two games combined. Fable, a new beginning for the legendary series that returns to a dreamlike land filled with wondrous creatures. Forza Motorsport is the pinnacle of the long-running racing simulation, in development with the highest quality graphics and physics to push Xbox Series X to new extremes.

More than that, Xbox has optimised some of its best and most-loved titles that launched on Xbox One for Xbox Series X, with faster load times and improved graphical fidelity. The thrilling open-world racing of Forza Horizon 4, the gritty future combat of Gears 5, the swashbuckling adventures of Sea of Thieves – they and more will be available on Xbox Game Pass when they launch later this year.

The new Xbox Series X will be coming to our Xbox All Access package in Holiday 2020. You can register your interest in Xbox Series X here to learn more closer to launch.

You might already know about Xbox All Access: the package features a console and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate membership, which includes all the benefits of Xbox Live Gold plus access to over 100 high-quality games, for a monthly payment. Xbox All Access can be added to a Telstra bill with $0 upfront and then a monthly charge for 24 months (plus your existing plan charges)*.

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate also means you have access to Xbox Game Studios titles the same day as their global release. That means Xbox Game Studios titles released in the next couple of years — like Halo Infinite — will be available and play great on Xbox Series X, as well as on Xbox One for our existing Xbox All Access customers.

We’re really keen to welcome the Xbox Series X to Xbox All Access when it launches later this year – and to get stuck into some of the incredible range of games we saw at Xbox Games Showcase.

*Telstra’s Xbox All Access with the Xbox Series X pricing is yet to be determined.

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 |

Five reasons from the experts to get your family into gaming

By Campbell Simpson June 30, 2020

Could gaming be good for you? More than that, could it be good for your family too? There’s plenty of evidence that gaming is linked to positive outcomes in education and social interaction for children, but families that game together also enjoy other benefits.

We know from our own experiences that gaming is better with friends and family, but we wanted to understand why. As it turns out, gaming with your child could even teach them how to teach you, or maybe even how to get along with a fractious sibling.

To get a better idea of the potential of family gaming, we talked to Dr. Marcus Carter from the University of Sydney. Dr Carter is Senior Lecturer in Digital Cultures, a Sydney Research Accelerator (SOAR) Fellow, and Degree Director at Sydney Uni’s Masters of Digital Culture and Communications course. He’s an expert when it comes to the science and academia of gaming, and a fountain of knowledge on the topic. 

Hi, Marcus. First up: how can families approach gaming together? Is gaming something to be enjoyed solo sometimes, as much as it can also be a social activity?

Co-play is a really great mediation strategy for digital games, and Minecraft Dungeons is a really great game for this because it’s so accessible to both new and experienced players.

The reason that co-play is a great way to approach your children’s gaming is that family participation with games facilitates social interactions and learning. Parent perspectives and behaviour while playing influences how children understand their media experience and react to things like loss, challenges, and how children develop important sportsmanship and teamwork skills. Digital games are also a great way for siblings to play together as most digital games are appealing to a broader range of ages than other media.

Parents playing games with their children is also great because it’s an opportunity for parents to let their kids be the expert and take on an educator role. Let your kids teach you how to play Minecraft to better understand what they find so fun and appealing about the game – and give them the opportunity to be the expert in the parent-child relationship for once!

There’s also nothing wrong – in moderation – with children playing games on their own. Even single-player games are social, as kids will often discuss them with their friends and school, just like we do with TV and movies.

Is competition or co-operation more useful for bringing a family together while they’re gaming? Is there a genre or style of game that lends itself to family interaction and gameplay?

Co-operative games are often thought to be better for family play because they don’t pit family members – particularly siblings! – against each other, but that doesn’t mean competitive games aren’t good too.

Some co-operative games might not be suitable for players of widely different skill levels, but well-designed competitive games can be great for creating social interactions and experiences outside of the game. Use competitive games to show your kids the right way to deal with winning and losing, and co-operative games to encourage teamwork and communication skills.

What would you say to parents who are worried that “games are addictive”? What are some of the positive impacts you see from exposing children and teens to the world of gaming? 

Just like books, radio, film and TV – which were all at some stage accused of being addictive for children – games are not ‘addictive’. They are an appealing hobby, enthusiastically engaged in, but parents shouldn’t misinterpret this desire as problematic compulsion or addiction. We wouldn’t call someone ‘addicted’ to books just because they wanted to read another chapter of Harry Potter after bedtime!

The risk of calling all video games addictive is that children might miss out on the benefits of playing games. We know that games are really good for children’s creativity and imagination, and are an engaging way to develop their problem-solving skills, spatial skills, and strategic decision-making abilities. Games are also challenging, and the skills that children develop to understand how to solve those problems are broadly applicable to the kinds of independent learning and digital literacy skills that see kids really succeed in schools.

But in addition to all these instrumental benefits, we’ve also got to remember that games are an enormous amount of fun, and kids need to have fun! Whether it’s to de-stress, relax, or have positive social experiences with friends, the play of digital games is – in moderation – as important as non-digital play.

How do skills acquired from games translate into the real world? How does playing games affect the rest of your world – are there parts of life that gamers are “better” at?  

Games are great for learning a wide variety of direct and indirect skills. Games help make kids comfortable and confident with computers, crucial for setting kids up for success in school and in later life. The skills children develop when they learn how to solve the problems they’re faced with in games are broadly applicable to the kinds of independent learning and digital literacy skills that see kids really succeed in schools. Single-player games can be fantastic ways for children to learn about the world, from topics like history to sport, and multiplayer games are also proven grounds for developing communication skills, teamwork, conflict resolution and leadership. You can learn all these things in other ways, but they probably aren’t as fun and engaging as games!

What would you say to the unfamiliar parent who wants to give games a go for themselves? Should they just pick up a controller and see what happens – or is there a better way to learn?

I always recommend to parents who want to learn more about how to play games to ask their children how to play! Think about how many times kids get to be the ‘expert’ with their parents, and how rare it is for a child to get to teach their parents how to do something. This is why playing games with your kids can be a really positive experience, because it’s an opportunity for your children to share something that is important and meaningful to them.

It doesn’t have to be something you just do with your kids either, plenty of parents are playing games too!  The controller can be intimidating at first, but after some practice it will fade away and you’ll be able to confidently play in virtual worlds alongside your kids, and on your own too.