Rolling out starting today to Insider preview members and coming soon to Xbox One owners everywhere, Microsoft’s new Xbox text filters give users the ability to tailor the level of offensive content they’re exposed to through private messages and, eventually, in profiles, clubs, and their activity feed. Don’t worry, “none” is an option.
Detailed in a post on the Xbox Wire website, the new “Message Safety” settings feature four levels of protection against offensive content. There’s “Unfiltered”, which just lets the profanity slide on through. “Medium” allows in some more common profanity while filtering harsher words or terms associated with bullying. “Friendly” is the lowest setting and the default for child accounts, automatically hiding profanity and offensive terms. “Mature” only hides terms and phrases Microsoft has determined are “almost always harmful” to those on the receiving end. When a message with offensive content per the user’s selected filtration level comes through, it is is automatically hidden.
Users can further tailor settings by applying one level of filtration to friends and another to strangers. Upon initial rollout, the filters will only apply to private messages, but Microsoft plans on implementing them across all methods of Xbox messaging, including Looking for Group (LFG) and Clubs. Some 21 languages will be supported at launch, with more added over time. The filters will work over PC and mobile Xbox apps as well as on the console.
Xbox Game Pass Ultimate combines Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Live Gold into one complete package. There are rumors that it will also include certain Windows 10 games and access to Project xCloud game streaming when it’s available later this year, but that hasn’t been confirmed as of yet. While it’s been available to select Xbox Insiders for a few weeks, anyone can subscribe to the service for $1 a month right now.
Keep in mind that the $1 price is just for the first month. After your trial expires, you’ll be charged $15 a month. In a few months when retailers like Amazon offer discounts on Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, you should stock up so you don’t have to pay $15 a month. We’re noticing similar discounts on Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Live Gold right now. A special introductory offer of $20 for three months should also be revealed at E3 2019.
Xbox Game Pass Ultimate also seems like it gives better perks. For example, some leaked promotional images say that Gears 5: Ultimate Edition will be included with the service. The regular Xbox Game Pass gives you just the standard edition it seems. If this trend continues in the future, with the top-of-the-line editions being available through Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, that’s by far the best deal.
The biggest question on peoples’ mind is what happens to your prepaid months of Xbox Live Gold or Xbox Game Pass when you join Xbox Game Pass Ultimate? When you join Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, Microsoft will apply any prepaid time you have on Xbox Live Gold or Xbox Game Pass towards Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. You can only get up to 36 months so don’t go crazy trying to buy a decade-long subscription. For example, if you have three months of Xbox Live Gold and three months of Xbox Game Pass already on your account, you’ll have a total of seven months of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate before you need to renew.
Xbox Game Pass gives you access to over a hundred games for one monthly fee. Xbox Game Pass Ultimate also adds Xbox Live Gold to the package so you can play online with your friends. You can either get a one-month trial for $1 from the Microsoft Store.
Announced initially on the April edition of Inside Xbox, the new Xbox Game Pass Ultimate program is Microsoft’s next stage of its popular service. One of the big requests from subscribers has been a single program to combine subscriptions for Game Pass and Xbox Live Gold, and now, Microsoft is delivering.
That’s exactly what Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is. With a little sprinkling of something new for PC gamers bundled in for good measure.
What exactly is Xbox Game Pass Ultimate?
Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is the combination of two current programs: Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Live Gold. Subscribers to Ultimate will have access to both for one monthly subscription cost instead of two separate ones. Additionally, the new Xbox Game Pass for PC subscription will also be included with Game Pass Ultimate.
Xbox Game Pass is Microsoft’s subscription service that offers complete access to over 100 games. You can download these to your console to play in full for as long as you’re a paying subscriber or the titles in question remain in the Game Pass library. Better yet, if a Game Pass title also supports Xbox Play Anywhere, you get access to play those on your PC, as well, as part of your subscription.
The new PC-specific Game Pass subscription has its own list of games, some of which are a crossover with the console program on account of Xbox Play Anywhere. But many are exclusive to PC, such as launch titles Football Manager 2019 and Metro Exodus.
Complete list of Xbox Game Pass PC games
If you choose to buy any game you play in Game Pass Ultimate, you’ll get a 10 percent discount on it while you’re a member.
Xbox Live Gold provides you with a number of perks. The first is access to online multiplayer in any Xbox One game, so if you want to play with friends you need Gold. More than that, though, Gold gives you four free games every month, two Xbox One titles and two Xbox 360 titles that are backward compatible and are yours to keep.
Gold subscribers also get exclusive discounts every single week on games from the Microsoft Store, as well as additional discounts during special promotional periods such as the Easter sale.
Xbox Game Pass Ultimate provides access to all of this under one subscription.
How much does Xbox Game Pass Ultimate cost?
Confirmed pricing for the U.S. is $14.99 a month, but regional pricing may vary. As a special bonus, sign ups at launch are being offered for $1 for the first month.
When does Xbox Game Pass Ultimate launch?
It’s available right now! After an early access program for Xbox Insiders, Microsoft officially started letting anyone sign up from June 9, 2019, the same day as it’s E3 press conference.
Where is Xbox Game Pass Ultimate available?
When Xbox Game Pass Ultimate will be available in all current Xbox Game Pass markets.
So how do you get Xbox Game Pass Ultimate?
Really easy. Simply visit the Microsoft Store from the account you wish to link to Game Pass Ultimate and buy a subscription.
Do you need to cancel Xbox Game Pass or Live Gold to get Ultimate?
When you sign up to Ultimate, any other current subscriptions are migrated across and automatically canceled for you.
What happens if you have prepaid subscriptions on your account already?
During the testing period, Microsoft honored prepaid months of Xbox Game Pass and Live Gold with free months of Ultimate. Currently, the same seems to apply to people signing up outside the Insider program, too, as we’ve seen first hand on multiple accounts.
The following is from the Insider FAQ which gives a good explanation:
As an Insider benefit, when you join Xbox Game Pass Ultimate to give feedback, we will apply any prepaid time you have on Xbox Live Gold, Xbox Game Pass or both toward Xbox Game Pass Ultimate up to a maximum of 36-months … For example, if you have 3-months of Xbox Live Gold and 3-months of Xbox Game Pass already in your account and join Ultimate as an Insider, you will be charged $1 for your first month. For subsequent months we will apply 6-months toward your Xbox Game Pass Ultimate (up to a maximum of 36-months).
Even if you’re not totally convinced, for $1 it’s definitely worth signing up and giving it a try to help make your decision.
The retro-themed, hand-animated indie darling Cuphead is headed to Switch on April 18, and its developer is excited for a whole new group of players to try it, and maybe even play some impromptu two-player at a rooftop party with single Joy-Cons. But the studio isn’t about to make the notoriously difficult action game any easier.
“Some people wondered if we were going to tweak the balance or really adjust things, and I don’t see that as being fair,” Cuphead co-director Jared Moldenhauer told Kotaku at a Nintendo indie games event at Game Developers Conference this week. “We wanted to let the next wave of gamers experience it exactly how we intended to make it.”
With an aesthetic directly inspired by vintage Max Fleischer cartoons and gameplay pulled straight from 8-bit run-and-gun shooters, Cuphead wears its influences proudly on its sleeve. Formerly an Xbox and PC exclusive, it will soon be available to players on Nintendo’s hybrid console. The Switch version will even get Xbox Live features added in later, in a further illustration of the buddy-buddy relationship that seems to be blossoming between the two Seattle console makers.
“There’s something beautiful happening on the scene, where you see more partnerships between the giants,” Moldenhauer said. It was Microsoft that approached Cuphead’s developer, StudioMHDR, with the idea of porting to Nintendo’s platform. “When it came up that they wanted to get more viewership on indie games, and they wanted to have more gamers capable of playing these games, they said, would you like to jump on the opportunity of going on Switch?”
“I’d be a crazy person if I didn’t say yes,” Moldenhauer said. “Any child who grew up in the era of the Sega-Nintendo wars, those two are the legendary gods of gaming. So since there’s only one left in the consoles, it’s like, how do we get on that? How do we validate our young selves? What would make little Jerry the most excited in the future?”
Moldenhauer is excited for the possibilities for Cuphead on Switch. Since all versions of the game only have local multiplayer, the Switch’s dual Joy-Cons mean new ways for folks to play together. “We can finally get what our vision is, which is friends and family playing together,” he said.
But even though a release on Switch will likely mean more younger or less experienced players being able to try Cuphead, the game won’t be getting any sort of difficulty or balance tweaks, or extra modes, for its Switch debut. As Moldenhauer pointed out during our chat, the game already has an Easy mode, but it’s an abbreviated experience—you don’t get to play every phase of the boss fights, and you can’t play the final stages at all. That decision was made because the studio wasn’t happy with how the game would have played otherwise, he said.
“Some patterns and some things became too complicated that you couldn’t tone down the variables to make that playable” in an Easy mode, he said. “Essentially, you would be playing nothing… or, there was no joy in it. We tried to reduce it down to what could be easier, yet still a challenge.”
“The end result, where people are a little upset that you can’t beat the game is,” he said, “an homage to the era, that there were just a ton of our favorite games as kids where you’d beat the game on Easy… and it would just be like, ‘now try it on Normal.’ Another aspect to that is, once you’ve built that skill set, going back and seeing more and putting your skills to use, I never had a problem as a kid.”