How Star Wars became the catalyst for upgrading to Windows 10

msft xbox streaming
Source: Microsoft / xbox.com

One good turn deserves another. Or in the case of recent developments in my household, one tech upgrade begets another.

A while ago, I fell in love with the new version of Star Wars: Battlefront. Even before I’d played the game, the prospect of crushing “rebel scum” had me salivating. By the time I’d watched the various demos and trailers from E3, it had become a matter of when I’d upgrade to the XBox One, rather than if.

So it was, that Battlefront became a major driver behind me upgrading to the XBox One.

What’s perhaps a little unexpected though is how Battlefront ended up setting in motion my upgrade to Windows 10.

Earlier this year I purchased a new desktop computer from Dell. It was released in that window (no pun intended 🙂 where manufacturers were installing Windows 8.2, but including a free upgrade to Windows.

For the last few months my PC has been not-so-patiently reminding me that it’s time to upgrade to Windows 10. But I’ve never really had any reason to make the switch. Heck, I only ‘upgraded’ to Windows 8.2 because that’s what came with my new computer. Windows 7 was meeting all my needs just fine.

But if you’ve bought an XBox One, there’s a great reason to give in to the nagging and move to Windows 10. The ability to stream games from your XBox One to your PC.

What?

Yes, play XBox One games on your PC. And not just your PC, but your Windows 10 tablets as well. This seems to be Microsoft’s nice little sweetener for those folks who have given Microsoft powered devices prominence in their homes. As a strategy for locking people in the the Microsoft ecosystem, this is a smart move.

So how well does it work?

Setup was pretty straight forward. The option for game streaming was already enabled on my XBox One. On my PC, I simply fired up the XBox app and logged in with my XBox Live account. A couple of clicks later and my XBox was mirrored on my desktop monitor.

Determined to put the streaming to the test, I dived into a game of Battlefront. While the quality of the experience isn’t the same is playing on the big screen in the lounge room, my 26” Dell delivered a pretty solid performance. If you have to share your TV, it’s an option that’s well worth exploring.

Perhaps the only drawback I’ve found so far is that you need to be logged in to the XBox One before you can connect and stream to your PC. In practise that means you’ll need to start the XBox streaming before you hand your TV over to someone else.

But that’s a small price to pay for the convenience of being able to play your XBox One games on an alternate screen.

So if you’re the owner of an XBox One and you’ve been wondering if you should move up to Windows 10 – this is the upgrade you’ve been looking for.

Star Wars Battlefront: Nothing like the stomp of an AT-AT

  
If you’re a fan of the Star Wars universe, you’ll want to check out the eye candy that is the latest Star Wars:Battlefront game.

This week I finally succumbed and bought myself an XBox One. The decision to upgrade was primarily motivated by the desire to play the latest version of Star Wars Battlefront, but other titles like Forza 6 and the upcoming Mass Effect title also played a part.

There may be a longer post to follow on the whole path to purchasing an XBox One and getting it up and running. But having just stepped away from a couple of hours of Battlefront, I wanted to take a few minutes to say “Wow”.

Let’s get something out of the way up front. I suck at first person shooter (FPS) games. I suck badly. My reflexes and hand eye coordination are pretty ordinary, even for someone my age. So what you’re getting here is the first impressions of someone who isn’t a regular player of this genre. But what I am a fan of is Star Wars.

So what are my first thoughts?

A lot of hard work has gone in to ensuring this game feels like the Star Wars universe fans know and love. (Check out this article on the making of the game for why this game looks so good).

This game is beautiful. From the way the wind whips the snow up on Hoth, to splashing through streams on Endor, the environments you do battle in are gorgeous.

There’s also lots of little things done well. Running across the snowy landscape of Hoth, you leave clearly formed footprints behind you. If you charge out of a dimly lit bunker in to the full glare of Tatooine’s twin suns – you’re temporarily blinded by the glare.

But better than that, the battles I’ve experienced so far feel just like you imagine they should.

I’ve spent most of the previous hour playing the ‘Walker Assault’ mode, which involves fighting alongside or against an invading AT-AT force.

When you’re fighting against the AT-AT’s as they trudge across Hoth’s snowy white plains, their size and firepower make them seem like almost invincible machines of death. Which is how it should be.

On the flip side, fighting as an Imperial soldier alongside an AT-AT is terrifying in its own way. Using the AT-AT’s legs for cover, the controller vibrated in my hands each time the At-At’s heavy steel feet stomped against the rocky desert of Tatooine.

Although its very early days yet, I’m loving Battlefront. After I’ve spent more time playing, I may have more to say about the gameplay. But for now, I’m still just enjoying being wowed by the world that DICE has managed to create for fans of the Star Wars universe.

Walking War Robots: Live. Die. Repeat. Fun. Week 1.


Like the tide of battle, my enthusiasm for Walking War Robots has ebbed and flowed throughout the week. But In spite of lacking variety in some areas, it’s a game that’s managed to keep me coming back, so far at least.

Stamping about in a giant metal mech and blowing up other robots is fun, especially if you have a pre-existing love of mech warfare. Which is why I’ve found myself still playing Walking War Robots (WWR) this week, even though the game is a little repetitive.

Firstly, let’s talk about maps. In particular the lack of maps. Despite not playing more than a few games a day, I’ve been fighting on the same three maps.
Over.
And over.

And over.

It’s all starting to feel a little like Edge of Tomorrow – but without the prospect of waking up to Emily Blunt every day. According to the WWR Wiki, there’s four maps available. But so far my heavy metal feet are yet to tread the snowy terrain of the Yamantau map. [Edit: Ok, I’ve now experienced Yamantau, but it still seems to be the least frequent map I’ve encountered in my first week.]

There’s also a lack of variety in the missions. Every mission is a team ‘control the beacons’ mission, with victory also granted if you manage to destroy all enemy robots. Oh what I’d give for a free for all arena battle. Or some small team battles. Or just something else now and then to mix things up a bit.

And yet, despite these limitations, I’ve come back to WWR for a few battles each day. At about ten minutes a match, it’s easy to quickly dip in and out of the game. Being randomly assigned a team for each match also avoids the hassle of organising people to play at a specific time, and a lot less guilt if you do happen to need to drop out of a match early.

I’m still learning the best tactics to use when fighting with different mechs and armaments, which is helping to hold my interest. If you want to last the full eight minutes, it really pays to give some thought to the best way to fight with your chosen war robot and its arsenal.

Of course, the lengthy times taken to upgrade various weapons also helps drive repeat ‘play’. If you can call logging in simply to kick off a new weapon upgrade ‘playing’.
A week in and the limitations of this game are obvious. Yet back I go day after day for a couple of rounds of metal on metal mayhem. A fortnight or a month from now it may not have the same day in, day out appeal, but I can imagine it being one of the games I pick up when I want a quick hit of multiplayer fun.

 

Need to Know

  • Available for iOS and Android
  • Multiplayer – online only
  • Free to play
  • In-app purchase: in-game currency or experience multiplier.

Walking War Robots: Surviving Day One

 There’s some experiences you never forget. Like the first time you strap yourself in to sixty tonnes of stomping steel battlemech and stride through a war town landscape with rocket fire ringing in your ears.

My first serious ‘mech’ experience was an arcade based game at Timezone, back in the 90s. After a lengthy wait in line with another dozen eager mech pilots, I ponied up my cash and was strapped into a near life-size cockpit. For the next ten minutes, I and my fellow pilots chased each other around a virtual battlefield, our individual machines literally shaking and rattling with every explosion. Given the state of technology at the time, it was an incredibly immersive experience, and a hell of a lot of fun.

There was also the memorable but unfortunate time I was playing one of the MechWarrior games and discovered how easy it is to blow a set of PC speakers if you turn the bass up too much. The rest of the missions on that computer just didn’t feel the same without the satisfying thwump of exploding enemy mechs.

Although I’m not a hardcore fan of mech games, I do have a soft spot for piloting giant robots into battle. Which brings me to my first twenty four hours with ‘Walking War Robots’. (hereafter referred to as WWR)

There’s no discernible plot to this game, and no complex moral dilemmas for your character to solve. What you get is exactly as is advertised on the box – walking war robots. Giant walking robots that you can equip with a progressively more deadly arsenal of guns, rockets and energy weapons.

WWR is an easy game to pick up. Select your first mech, pick your weapons and join the battle. The controls are fairly intuitive, so before long you’ll be unleashing a fiery cascade of cannon fire on your foes. Just be aware that this is one game where more experienced players may actually respawn more times than the newbie – your number of respawns in a round being determined by how many mechs you have in your personal hanger.


Playing on my iPad, there’s enough visual detail to make it clear you’re striding between skyscrapers rather than just solid blocks. But as I soon discovered, the environment is indestructible, so no matter how many rounds you hammer in to a building, it’s still going to look picture perfect. Structures also seem to offer the same amount of cover no matter how many missile hits they take. Still, it’s a small quibble in the scheme of things.

In my first day of casual playing I’ve learned the basics of the game, upgraded some of my weapons, and even earned enough to buy some additional mechs. It’s been fun so far and now the challenge will be how long WWR can hold my attention for.

If you’re a long term WWR player, I’d love to hear in the comments what keeps bringing you back to this game.

Need to Know

  • Available for iOS and Android
  • Multiplayer – online only
  • Free to play.
  • In-app purchase: in-game currency or experience multiplier.