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☐ ☆ ✇ Windows Central - News, Forums, Reviews, Help for Windows 10 and all things Microsoft.

Now that the reviews are in, will you buy a Surface Duo 2?

Par : Sean Endicott

Since Surface Duo 2 reviews are a mixed bag, do you plan on buying the new foldable from Microsoft?

Microsoft launched the Surface Duo 2 this week. The foldable improves on its predecessor in several key areas, including having a Snapdragon 888 processor, better cameras, and a refined design. It also supports 5G and NFC, both of which the original Duo lacks.

We already knew the specs of the Surface Duo 2 and what it looked like. Preorders have been open for weeks. But since the device is now available, reviews have come out, helping people decide if the Duo 2 is worth its $1,500 price tag.

Will you buy the Surface Duo 2?

Our Surface Duo 2 review gave the device a 4/5 rating. Our executive editor Daniel Rubino highlighted the hardware and software improvements seen in the Duo 2 but also admitted its flaws, including some minor bugs.

"Don't let anyone tell you differently: Surface Duo 2 is a huge improvement over the first model. But the actual Surface Duo experience is waiting for another chapter, making Surface Duo 2 a nice milestone but still a novelty for many," says Rubino.

Other experts weren't as high on Microsoft's new foldable. Several reviewers ran into bugs during their testing. Others questioned the form factor of the device.

Now that reviews are out, we want to know if you plan to buy a Surface Duo 2. Did the reviews sway your opinion one way or the other? Let us know in our poll and explain your reasoning in the comments.

Surface Duo 2

From $1,500 at Microsoft

From $1,500 at Best Buy

The Surface Duo 2 is a foldable phone built for multitasking. It runs on a Snapdragon 888 processor, has a triple-camera setup, and supports 5G and NFC.

☐ ☆ ✇ Windows Central - News, Forums, Reviews, Help for Windows 10 and all things Microsoft.

Surface Duo 2 receives first major update, 'improves system stability'

Par : Daniel Rubino

Microsoft is rolling out a fresh update for Surface Duo 2 just one day after its release.

What you need to know

  • A new system update is rolling out to Surface Duo 2.
  • The update is 228MB in size and addresses "system stability."
  • The patch bumps the build from 2021.824.206 to 2021.827.34.

After being out for just a day, Microsoft is already pushing out a new system update for Surface Duo 2. The update is strictly bug fixes as the Android security patch is still dated for September 5 and not the latest from October.

The update is around 228MB in size, which is substantial. The official release notes are vague, only noting it "improves device stability" and bumps the build from 2021.824.206 to 2021.827.34.

The update is rolling out in waves, meaning not all Surface Duo 2s are getting right now, including our loaner unit, which is still on the older 2021.824.206 build used for the review. Microsoft notes "Surface updates are release in stages—not every Surface will receive the update at the same time, but it'll be delivered to all devices."

It's too early to tell just how much has been fixed or what has improved. Some of the early comments, so far, on reddit have been positive.

Unlike last year, there was no "day one" patch for Surface Duo 2. During the out-of-box experience, the latest update (dated back from August) is applied, making today's update technically the second one. Microsoft hasn't yet pushed out any updates to the inboard apps, including Microsoft Launcher, Camera, or Photos.

Surface Duo 2 received many negative to mixed reviews this week, praising the updated hardware but lamenting ongoing software issues, which we detailed in our lengthy review.

Sources have told Windows Central that the Duo team is planning to be more aggressive with updates for the second edition of the $1,500 dual-screen device, though that remains to be seen. Owners of Surface Duo 1 are still awaiting Android 11.

We'll be following the journey of Surface Duo 2 in the coming year to see if (and how) it improves over time.

☐ ☆ ✇ Windows Central - News, Forums, Reviews, Help for Windows 10 and all things Microsoft.

Here's everything you need to know about Among Us for Xbox

Par : Zachary Boddy

Among Us is finally coming to Xbox! Here's what you need to know.

An influx of people staying home and playing video games, a bigger focus on online multiplayer, and the unintentional power of Twitch streamers to elevate games have caused several smaller games to become wild successes. One of the most prominent examples of this phenomenon is Among Us, an understated game with up to 10 players working together to discover the Impostors amongst them.

Among Us is already available on most other platforms, including mobile, Nintendo Switch, and PC. Later this year, though, Among Us is going to make the jump to Xbox. Here's everything you need to know about Among Us for Xbox, including when it'll release, how you can play it, and everything in between.

Jump to:

A catalog of games

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate

From $1/month at Microsoft $45 at Amazon (3-month subscription) $15 at Amazon (1-month subscription)

All your gaming needs, in one subscription.

Is the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate the best value in all of gaming? It's possible. Ultimate bundles your Xbox Live Gold subscription, an Xbox Game Pass subscription for both Xbox consoles and Windows PCs, and Xbox Cloud Gaming for on-the-go. That means access to hundreds of games, with more added all the time, for a single monthly subscription cost.

When is the release date for Among Us for Xbox?

Among Us, the unique co-op multiplayer game from Innersloth, is already available on Android, iOS, PC through Steam and the Epic Games Store, Xbox Game Pass for PC, and the Nintendo Switch. The next stop? Among Us is coming to Xbox through Xbox Game Pass on Dec. 14, 2021.

It was confirmed in late 2020 by the Xbox and the Innersloth team that Among Us would head to Xbox consoles, including the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S, later this year in 2021. It'll also be coming to PS5 and PS4 the same day.

What is Among Us for Xbox?

Among Us for Xbox is the console port of Among Us, the innovative online co-op multiplayer game from Innersloth that's taken the world by storm, to Microsoft's Xbox consoles.

Among Us is a game that actually released back in 2018 but never saw a ton of commercial success. It wasn't until the rise of Twitch streams and an increased number of people staying home that it exploded and dominated the internet. Now, Among Us enjoys millions of players and has expanded rapidly.

In Among Us, up to 10 players are tasked with completing objectives on a map as Crewmates. Up to three of those Crewmates are actually Impostors, however, and their mission is to kill all of the Crewmates. The Crewmates either need to survive and finish all their tasks or find and eject all of the Impostors. While the game has a simple premise, there's a fair amount that goes into communication, teamwork, and information-gathering.

Among Us for Xbox will have to figure out how to make everything work with a controller while still keeping it fun, and make sure it's still relatively easy to communicate with your fellow Crewmates during discussions. The team already managed this with the Switch version, so it shouldn't be too much of a stretch to mimic that same feeling on Xbox. One of Among Us' most significant advantages is crossplay, and being able to play with anyone no matter their platform of choice.

Is Xbox Game Pass getting Among Us for Xbox?

Before Xbox and Innersloth announced that Among Us was coming to Xbox, it was first revealed that Among Us was heading to Xbox Game Pass for PC. When Among Us makes the jump to Xbox consoles, it'll be available through Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate.

The exact pricing information for Among Us for Xbox (if that'll be available separately from Xbox Game Pass) isn't known, but it'll probably cost the same $5 it does on PC and Switch. While this is pretty affordable, Among Us is also the perfect game for Xbox Game Pass since it's a casual and fun multiplayer game that some players may not have bought normally. This immediately opens Among Us to millions of additional players on Xbox consoles that are already subscribed to Xbox Game Pass.

It's unclear what'll be included in the Xbox Game Pass version, but we can assume it'll be a copy of the base game without any of the DLC or additional in-game content like cosmetics.

It's not known how long Among Us will be available through Xbox Game Pass, but games typically stick around for quite a while. Indie games like Among Us, especially, often remain available for a long time.

Xbox Game Pass includes hundreds of high-quality games, but Among Us may have a chance of joining our list of best games on Xbox Game Pass.

Are there any new features for Among Us for Xbox?

No matter where you play Among Us, the game is pretty consistent in its experience. However, things may have to change a tad for Xbox out of necessity. Players on Xbox will likely enjoy Among Us on a larger TV screen with a controller in their hand.

Among Us on the Nintendo Switch shows that some controls become easier with analog sticks and triggers, but other mini-games suffer and communication with Crewmates becomes more difficult. Hopefully, Innersloth will be able to improve this experience when they make the jump to Xbox. At the very least, here's hoping Among Us for Xbox uses the excellent built-in on-screen keyboard instead of a proprietary keyboard inside of Among Us.

Xbox Party integration would also be great with Among Us for Xbox. Hopefully, players will be able to invite their friends to rooms instead of figuring out how to share the unique room codes, and Xbox's Party Chat will provide a suitable way for players to discuss over meetings instead of using text messages.

Unfortunately, it's impossible to say for certain how the Among Us for Xbox experience will be at this time. The only thing we can say with a reasonable amount of confidence is that Among Us will likely include Achievements for the first time, which can give even more players reason to jump in and play. Among Us doesn't feature achievements, trophies, or whatever else you want to call them on any other platform, but games are strongly encouraged to include them on Xbox.

However, for this and more, we'll have to wait to hear more from the Among Us team.

Does Among Us for Xbox have a collector's edition?

For a game as simple as Among Us, you wouldn't think there would be a collector's edition up for sale, but earlier this year, Innersloth confirmed there would be multiple special, physical editions of the game available for purchase at retailers like Amazon and GameStop. They'll be released in the U.K. and EU on Dec. 14, in Japan and South Korea on Dec. 16, and in the U.S., Canada, and Latin America on Jan. 11, 2022.

Innersloth teamed up with Maximum Games to create three Among Us Collector's Editions, which are now available for preorder on Amazon. Considering Among Us is already an inexpensive game, these versions cost a lot less than other typical collector's editions.

Crewmate Edition

This is the most affordable of the three, costing $30 no matter your platform of choice. It includes:

  • Physical copy of Among Us in a 3D lenticular case
  • All digital DLC and additional in-game content
  • A folded Skeld map poster
  • An Among Us sticker set
  • One of 12 Mira HQ holographic access cards
  • Six downloadable wallpapers

Among Us Crewmate Edition

$30 at Amazon (Xbox) $30 at Amazon (PS4) $30 at Amazon (PS5) $30 at Amazon (Switch)

Among Us Crewmate Edition is the most affordable of the Collector's Editions, but it still includes a physical copy of the game, all the DLC, and various cute extras.

Imposter Edition

This version is right in the middle and costs $50. It includes everything in the Crewmate Edition, with additional rewards like:

  • Limited Impostor Edition box
  • Among Us enamel pin
  • Purple Crewmate Among Us plush
  • Among Us lanyard

Among Us Impostor Edition

$50 at Amazon (Xbox) $50 at Amazon (PS4) $50 at Amazon (PS5) $50 at Amazon (Switch)

Among Us Impostor Edition feels like a proper Collector's Edition with its beautiful Limited Edition box and adorable Crewmate plush.

Ejected Edition

This is the most expensive version, coming in at $90, but it comes with a lot of merchandise. You get everything in both the Crewmate and Imposter Editions, along with:

  • Physical copy with SteelBook
  • Limited Ejected Edition box
  • Red Among Us beanie
  • Among Us fleece blanket

Among Us Ejected Edition

$90 at Amazon (Xbox) $90 at Amazon (PS4) $90 at Amazon (PS5) $90 at Amazon (Switch)

You get a ton of stuff in the Ejected Edition, but it still costs less than other collector's boxes out there. You get everything included in the previous editions, along with a beanie and blanket!

Among Us will be hitting Xbox Game Pass on Dec. 14, 2021.

A catalog of games

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate

From $1/month at Microsoft $45 at Amazon (3-month subscription) $15 at Amazon (1-month subscription)

All your gaming needs, in one subscription.

Is the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate the best value in all of gaming? It's possible. Ultimate bundles your Xbox Live Gold subscription, an Xbox Game Pass subscription for both Xbox consoles and Windows PCs, and Xbox Cloud Gaming for on-the-go. That means access to hundreds of games, with more added all the time, for a single monthly subscription cost.

☐ ☆ ✇ Windows Central - News, Forums, Reviews, Help for Windows 10 and all things Microsoft.

Best Black Friday Xbox accessory deals

Par : Matt Brown

Black Friday is one of the best opportunities to save on gaming purchases, including accessories made for Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S consoles. You can score some great deals from Microsoft and top brands like Turtle Beach, Razer, Astro Gaming, and PowerA. Black Friday is still to come, but you can already save on some of the best accessories for Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One.

With Black Friday approaching, it's crucial to understand the worthwhile deals and the products likely to be discounted. Microsoft is pushing backward compatibility across its latest consoles, which means almost everything works on Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S.

Accessories like headsets, controllers, and chargers are popular for Black Friday clearance. Games also continue to grow in size, and with storage space more limited than ever, look out for cuts on Xbox-compatible hard drives. The latest Xbox Series X|S family pushes new technologies only found in the best 4K TVs too, with retailers already slashing prices on many top models.

With retailers discounting products ahead of the big day, these are the Xbox accessories you shouldn't miss so far.

Ultimate control

Xbox Elite Controller Series 2

$150 at Amazon $150 at Microsoft {.end}

$150 $180 $30 off

Microsoft's Xbox Elite Controller is one of the leading Xbox accessories out there, highly customizable and assembled from best-in-class materials. You can adjust swap out its components between various sticks, paddles, or pads, plus tweak how thumbsticks and triggers operate. You even get a handy carry case and a dedicated charging cradle. It recently got a rare discount at some retailers.

With both Microsoft and third-party accessory manufacturers expected to lower prices over the weeks ahead, we're keeping an eye on the best deals available for Xbox owners. We've already rounded up some attractive savings within top categories, likely to rival savings found throughout the month.

Xbox Stereo Headset | $55 at Amazon (Was $60)

Microsoft is back in Xbox audio with new official headsets, and its Xbox Stereo Headset is the most affordable offering designed for Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One. It takes cues from its pricier Xbox Wireless Headset, with comfortable materials and convenient features like on-ear volume dials. It's one of the best budget headsets out there, now with a small pre-Black Friday saving.

$55 at Amazon

HyperX CloudX Xbox Gaming Headset | $50 at Amazon (Was $70)

The HyperX CloudX has long held the crown in its price bracket, delivering punchy audio coupled with a noise-canceling microphone for online play. It's wrapped up in a premium finish, thanks to an all-aluminum frame and comfy memory foam ear cushions, but drops the needless gimmicks from some budget headsets. It's now discounted at an even more affordable price ahead of Black Friday.

$50 at Amazon

Seagate 2TB Game Drive for Xbox | $70 at Amazon (Was $92)

$70 at Amazon $70 at Best Buy {.end}

Seagate has launched some hefty discounts on its official Xbox-branded hard drives, including its newest 2TB Game Drive designed for Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S. The capacity means five times the storage on many Xbox consoles, with slick black casing and a green LED strip ideal for any gaming setup. This 24% saving serves up its lowest-ever price to date.

Samsung T7 500GB External SSD | $80 at Amazon (Was $100)

Upgrading to an SSD for external storage brings improved speed over traditional hard drives, although at a premium, while still providing more space for games. You'll see reduced transfer and load times with the Samsung T7, with stellar performance and quality across the range. This hugely improves an existing Xbox One console and works on Xbox Series X and Series S, albeit with usual USB drive limitations. SSD prices have steadily fallen through 2021, making this an ideal time to invest.

$80 at Amazon $80 at Best Buy {.end}

PowerA MOGA XP5-X Plus Bluetooth Controller | $33 at Amazon (Was $40)

It's been a massive year for Microsoft's Xbox Cloud Gaming platform. Those on Android should consider the XP5-X Plus, a gamepad taking cues from the official Xbox controller, with an integrated clip for your smartphone. Best of all, there's a 3000mAh power bank inside to charge your device while on the move.

$33 at Amazon

TCL 6-Series R635 55-inch 4K TV | $690 at Amazon (Was $950)

TCL remains a leader in great 4K TVs at lower prices. The R635, a device we named the best budget 4K TV for Xbox Series X|S, just scored another significant price cut headed into Black Friday. It doesn't have HDMI 2.1 support but offers 4K 60 FPS gaming, with a handy option to hit 120Hz when targeting a lower 1440p. You can also expect superb visuals for the price coupled with support for many popular gaming features.

$699 at Amazon

TCL 5-Series S535 4K TV | $449 at Amazon (Was $525)

The 5-Series S535 is another even cheaper TV that still holds its ground. The lower cost still supplies a solid 4K HDR image with rich colors and a low response time for gaming. You're limited to 4K at 60Hz, coupled with a hit to image quality, but you can't beat this 4K TV within its price bracket.

$449 at Amazon

LG C1 65-inch 4K OLED | $1,897 at Amazon (Was $2,100)

This is the best 4K TV for Xbox Series X and PS5, delivering incredible images and all the features you need. It has HDMI 2.1 support, enabling up to 4K resolutions at 120Hz, coupled with other latest-generation display features. With that premium OLED panel, you're experiencing the best rich colors with deep blacks, with the best image quality available on your console. The 65-inch model is already $200 cheaper ahead of Black Friday.

$1,897 at Amazon

☐ ☆ ✇ Windows Central - News, Forums, Reviews, Help for Windows 10 and all things Microsoft.

Here's everything new in GTA Trilogy Definitive Edition

Par : Samuel Tolbert

New features, graphics, and more await in this nostalgic compilation.

Ahead of the launch of GTA 5 for Xbox Series X|S and PS5 and many years before the eventual arrival of GTA 6, Rockstar Games is going back to its past with the Grand Theft Auto Trilogy Definitive Edition. Three classic Rockstar Games entries in the Grand Theft Auto franchise are being revisited, with a variety of improvements that help make these games feel more modern.

All of these changes add up, meaning that for fans and newcomers alike, this could be one of the best Xbox games available. We've rounded up everything new in GTA Trilogy Definitive Edition below.

What GTA Trilogy Definitive Edition content is new?

GTA Trilogy Definitive Edition consists of three games: Grand Theft Auto III, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. These games originally launched in 2001, 2002, and 2004 respectively. As part of the remaster process, the developers modernized the graphics, which you can see in the video above. This remaster is designed to make the games look better while retaining the stylized look of each game, instead of opting for the hyper-realism found in later Rockstar Games title like Red Dead Redemption 2.

Here's an overview of all the major changes to the trilogy outside of the visual design:

  • Improved controls. GTA Trilogy Definitive Edition now features a control setup described as being similar to GTA 5. This means you won't be playing with the same dated control schemes the original games used. Gunplay and targeting has been improved, as well as having better drive-by controls in San Andreas. The weapon and radio selection wheels are being updated, while navigation is also improved on the mini-maps. Nintendo Switch players will also benefit from gyro aiming.
  • Increased resolution/framerate. Players on Xbox Series X and PS5 get to play these games at 4K 60 FPS. There's no word on the resolution or framerate for other platforms yet. All versions are getting higher-resolution textures, increased draw distances, improved lighting and better weather effects.
  • Instant mission restart. No more long periods of waiting, you can instantly restart any failed mission in all three games.

Can I upgrade to GTA Trilogy Definitive Edition?

No, there are no upgrade options available. These are completely new remasters of games multiple generations old, meaning there's no discount or upgrade path to utilize.

What is GTA Trilogy Definitive Edition's price?

GTA Trilogy Definitive Edition is $60 at launch. With that said, if you want to try one of the games through a subscription service, you're in luck. At launch, the remaster of San Andreas will be available in Xbox Game Pass, while the remaster of GTA III is coming to PlayStation Now in December 2021. It's not the full game in either case, but it means subscribers of those services get to try part of the trilogy out and decide whether they want to buy the complete edition.

When is GTA Trilogy Definitive Edition's release date?

GTA Trilogy Definitive Edition is currently slated to launch on Nov. 11, 2021. Amusingly, this is the same day that Skyrim Anniversary Edition is also slated to launch.

GTA Trilogy Definitive Edition is coming to Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox One, PC, PS5, PS4, and Nintendo Switch. Ports for mobile devices are slated to launch in 2022.

Three iconic titles

Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy — The Definitive Edition

$60 at Microsoft

Three games, better than ever

With Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy — The Definitive Edition, players can revisit three games that helped shape Rockstar Games and the GTA franchise as a whole: GTA 3, Vice City, and San Andreas.

☐ ☆ ✇ Windows Central - News, Forums, Reviews, Help for Windows 10 and all things Microsoft.

Get spooky this Halloween with the best horror games of 2021

Par : Brendan Lowry

It's almost Halloween, and you know what that means — it's time to play some great horror games that are sure to get you feeling spooked. There has never been a better time to be a fan of these titles, either, as many horror games from recent years are often considered some of the best Xbox games in the industry. While we do recommend playing through classics like Alien: Isolation, we also believe it's important to spotlight some of the best new horror games that have come out in 2021. Therefore, we've put together a list of the best horror games from this year that we think you should play right now.

Best overall: Resident Evil Village

2021's premier horror experience is Resident Evil Village, Capcom's follow-up to 2017's excellent Resident Evil 7: Biohazard. Set in a grounds of a massive castle and in a nearby village, Resident Evil Village is filled to the brim with deadly creatures that are inspired by zombies, werewolves, vampires, and other monstrosities. To survive, you'll need to comb through each area for weapons, use the environment to your advantage, and find ways to outsmart the forces that are hunting you. There are also plenty of story collectibles to find in each area as well, giving you a chance to piece together the parts of the narrative that the main cutscenes don't focus on (the story can be a bit nonsensical at times, unfortunately). These collectibles also make Resident Evil Village very replayable, as there's a good chance you'll discover something new in follow-up playthroughs.

Resident Evil Village is also a visual spectacle, as it features superb textures and supports ray-traced lighting on next-gen consoles like the Xbox Series X as well as high-end PCs like rigs equipped with NVIDIA RTX 30-series GPUs. You can rest assured knowing that in Resident Evil Village, every gore spatter and grotesque creature will look horrifyingly realistic.

Pros:

  • Excellent survival horror gameplay
  • Fantastic visuals
  • Very replayable

Cons:

  • Story doesn't make sense at times

Best overall

Resident Evil Village

The legendary franchise continues

Resident Evil Village is one of the franchise's finest entries, blending tense action with impeccable atmosphere and world design.

Best shooter: Chernobylite

If you're after a shooter that has lots of horror elements, look no further than Chernobylite. Set in the depths of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, Chernobylite tasks you with searching for your lost wife while paramilitary soldiers and supernatural threats alike bear down on you at every turn. Throughout the game, you'll have to carefully manage your supplies so that you always have a way to defend yourself against the threats you encounter. Throughout the journey, you'll also meet several allies that can help you on your quest, though they'll abandon you if you treat them poorly and don't take their own concerns and perspectives seriously.

The enemy AI can be a little inconsistent at times, but overall, Chernobyl is an excellent game if you enjoy tense shooters with lots of stealth and horror elements. Don't overlook it.

Pros:

  • Tense horror-style shooter gameplay
  • Nuanced storyline with many possible outcomes
  • Lots of different enemies and environments

Cons:

  • Enemy AI can be inconsistent

Best shooter

Chernobylite

Welcome to the Zone

Chernobylite is one of the best stealth shooters you can play if you love horror, as both its natural and supernatural threats are frightening. Cherish every bullet you find, because you're going to need them.

Best adventure: The Medium

The Medium is one of the strongest Xbox exclusives in recent memory, offering players a uniquely slow-paced adventure experience that trades action-packed thrills for a focus on psychological horror. You play as Marianne, a woman who has the unique gift of being able to transcend between two different realities at the same time — a "medium," in other words. With her abilities, Marianne has to contend with evil spirits at an abandoned government-funded resort and uncover its horrifying secrets.

The Medium's biggest strengths are its intricately detailed environments and masterful storytelling, both of which are crucial to getting psychological horror right. The Medium is also a fantastic-looking game, although the fact that it doesn't reach 60 FPS on Xbox Series X is disappointing. Still, the game is absolutely worth playing if you're after an adventure-style psychological horror experience.

Pros:

  • Excellent psychological horror
  • Expertly crafted environments
  • Masterful storytelling

Cons:

  • Can't do 60 FPS on Xbox Series X

Best adventure

The Medium

Two realities, one person

The Medium is a slow and unnerving game that focuses heavily on psychological horror. It's also visually stunning, and it looks amazing on next-gen consoles.

Best puzzle: Little Nightmares II

If you like horror games that have lots of puzzles, Little Nightmares II will be right up your alley. In it, you play as a boy called Mono who is trapped in a world corrupted and tainted by an evil transmission. Together with the character Six from the first Little Nightmares game, Mono has to find ways to safely traverse each area so that he can eventually find and stop the transmission.

Throughout Little Nightmares II, players will come across various different types of puzzles, including platforming segments, physics-based challenges, and situations where you need to figure out how to move without being heard or seen. Solving these puzzles is a fun, yet tense experience that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Little Nightmares II is also dripping with dark, stylized atmosphere that ties the whole experience together. The controls can be a little unwieldy at times, but the game is ultimately a gem that no horror fan should miss.

Pros:

  • Creative puzzle gameplay
  • Lots of puzzle variety
  • Tons of creepy atmosphere

Cons:

  • Controls can be unwieldy at times

Best puzzle

Little Nightmares II

Find the transmission

Little Nightmares II is a puzzle-heavy horror game that's dripping with unsettling atmosphere. We can't recommend it enough.

Best co-op: Back 4 Blood

People who want a co-op game to play with their friends this Halloween should give Back 4 Blood a try. Similar to Turtle Rock Studios' original Left 4 Dead series, Back 4 Blood pits four players up against the zombie hordes of the Ridden. This alien parasite has enslaved most of the human race, and it's up to you to take as many of them down as you can so that humanity can rebuild.

Like Left 4 Dead, Back 4 Blood has excellent action shooter gameplay centered around squad tactics and dealing with the "special infected," which are zombies that have unique capabilities. Unlike Left 4 Dead, though, Back 4 Blood has a deck-building system that allows players to use stat-boosting cards in-game to create specialized builds. And when you pair the gameplay with the game's gore-filled visuals and high-octane soundtrack, the result is one of the best zombie games ever made. The only real downside is that there's no traditional Left 4 Dead Versus mode or a way to progress in the game if you're playing solo.

Pros:

  • Action-packed zombie slaying gameplay
  • Focus on squad tactics and cooperation
  • Awesome presentation

Cons:

  • No traditional Versus mode
  • No solo progression

Best co-op

Back 4 Blood

The Left 4 Dead 3 we've been waiting for

Back 4 Blood is essentially Left 4 Dead 3, featuring refined shooter mechanics, a creative new deck-building system, and a heavy focus on squad communication and coordination.

Best visual novel: Doki Doki Literature Club Plus!

The hit 2017 visual novel horror game Doki Doki Literature Club (DDLC) has finally made its way to Xbox with the release of Doki Doki Literature Club Plus!, which features the original game's content as well as some extra side stories. The story of DDLC has you attending a high school literature club and interacting with members Sayori, Yuri, Natsuki, and Monika.

As you play through the game and build relationships with the four characters, you'll begin to uncover dark secrets about the literature club that will completely change the way you perceive the story, the characters, and the game itself. We won't say more than that since we don't want to spoil the twists, but you should definitely give this incredibly unique and powerful game a try.

Pros:

  • Incredibly creative concept
  • Excellent story and characters
  • Charming presentation (most of the time)

Cons:

  • Not very replayable

Best visual novel

Doki Doki Literature Club Plus!

Just Monika

DDLC Plus is the definitive edition of Team Salvato's legendary 2017 visual novel, featuring one of the most clever and impactful stories of any horror game ever made.

Best style: Mundaun

If you're looking for something with a unique style, give Mundaun a shot. Like The Medium, Mundaun is slow-paced and focused on psychological horror. However, what makes Mundaun stand out is that all of its visuals are completely hand-drawn, giving the game's environments a fascinating and distinct sketch-like appearance. While playing Mundaun, it almost feels like everything on screen is part of an animated sketchbook.

In terms of gameplay, Mundaun is filled with lots of clever puzzles to solve and overwhelming threats to survive. Set in a dark and unsettling valley within the Alps, players will need to use their wits wisely and manage their inventory well if they want to uncover the secrets of the Mundaun mountain. The game is a little bit too slow at times, but overall, Mundaun is excellent.

Pros:

  • Incredibly unique style
  • Tense psychological horror
  • Healthy mix of creative puzzles

Cons:

  • Can be too slow at times

Best style

Mundaun

Hand-drawn horror

Mundaun is a slow-burning psychological horror game with unique hand-drawn textures and environments, making it stand out from the crowd.

Best remaster: Alan Wake Remastered

Alan Wake Remastered is perfect for fans who want to play a modernized version of a classic, as Alan Wake is generally considered one of the best horror games ever made. Set in the Pacific Northwest town of Bright Falls, you play as Alan Wake, an author whose wife, Alice, has gone missing. As you search for her, you come across pages of a horror story that you supposedly created but don't have any memories of writing. The situation worsens as elements of the story come to life before your eyes, with the primary threat being an evil darkness that corrupts everyone it comes into contact with.

Armed with little more than a flashlight and a pistol, it's your job to journey forth to try to discover what happened to your wife while also working to put an end to the nightmarish threat of the darkness. Complete with advanced new textures, lighting effects, and support for 4K resolution, Alan Wake Remastered is the definitive version of Remedy Entertainment's fan-favorite horror classic.

Pros:

  • Great story
  • Strong atmospheric horror
  • Gorgeous visuals

Cons:

  • No ray tracing is disappointing

Best remaster

Alan Wake Remastered

A classic returns

Alan Wake Remastered is the definitive version of Remedy's original masterpiece, featuring updated textures, new lighting effects, and support for 4K resolution.

It's time to get spooky

It's important to get into the spooky spirit as Halloween draws near, and one of the best ways to do that is to play one (or all) of 2021's excellent horror games. Even though horror is one of the smaller game genres overall, tons of excellent horror games have still been made recently, and all of them are worth checking out. For some other awesome horror games to play, don't miss our roundup of the best Xbox horror games.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.

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Blizzard renames Overwatch's McCree to Cole Cassidy

Par : Samuel Tolbert

A new beginning for an iconic character.

What you need to know

  • Blizzard Entertainment previously announced plans to rename Overwatch hero McCree.
  • This decision was made due to McCree's namesake being fired from Blizzard Entertainment as a result of recent allegations.
  • McCree's new name is Cole Cassidy.
  • The developer's parent company Activision Blizzard is facing a lawsuit, alleging a sexist workplace environment.

Blizzard Entertainment announced on Friday that Overwatch's McCree has a new name: Cole Cassidy. This comes after the company announced a plan to rename the character back in August 2021. Cole Cassidy arrives in Overwatch as a full rework and part of a new story arc on Oct. 26, 2021.

Meet Cole Cassidy.

Rides into Overwatch October 26. pic.twitter.com/CT6PmaNXNs

— Overwatch (@PlayOverwatch) October 22, 2021

McCree's renaming comes about due to Jesse McCree, his namesake, being fired from Blizzard Entertainment in the wake of allegations following the lawsuit against Activision Blizzard. McCree is one of over 23 employees removed from the company in the past months, alongside the former game director of upcoming action role-playing game Diablo 4.

Developing...

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Running any Android apps on Windows 11

Par : Mauro Huculak

You're not limited to the Amazon Appstore. You can sideload Android apps from virtually any source, and in this guide, we'll show you how on Windows 11.

Microsoft has released the first preview of the Windows Subsystem for Android (WSA) that finally brings support for Android apps to Windows 11. Although the company has decided to collaborate with Amazon to download the apps using the Amazon Appstore, it's possible to sideload Android apps.

The new platform is currently available for computers using "United States" as the region, are enrolled in the Beta Channel of the Windows Insider Program, and meet the memory, processor, virtualization, and build of Windows 11 requirements. You will also need a United States-based Amazon account to use the Amazon Appstore.

Since the Amazon Appstore only offers a limited number of apps, and not everyone has an Amazon account or an account based in the U.S., you can use the Android Debugging Bridge (ADB) tools to install apps from any source, using the ".apk" file.

In this Windows 11 guide, we will walk you through the steps to sideload Android apps on your PC.

How to install WSA on Windows 11

To sideload Android apps, you first need to confirm that your device meets the minimum requirements, and then you need to install the Windows Subsystem for Android, which you can do by installing the Amazon Appstore.

System requirements

These are the additional system requirements for running Android apps on Windows 11:

  • Memory: 8GB or 16GB (recommended).
  • Processor: Intel Core i3 8th Gen, AMD Ryzen 3000, Qualcomm Snapdragon 8c, or better.
  • Microsoft Store app: Version 22110.1402.6.0 or higher.
  • Windows 11: Build 22000.xxx or higher.
  • Windows Insider Program: Beta Channel.

Check system requirements

To check the system requirements, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on System.
  3. Click the About page on the right side.
  4. Under the "Device specifications" section, confirm the RAM and CPU requirements.

  5. Under the "Windows specifications" section, confirm the build number is equal to or higher than 22000.xxx.

Once you complete the steps, you can enroll your computer in the Beta Channel of the Windows Insider Program.

Join the Windows Insider Program

Since the support for Android apps is only available in preview, you need to have a device enrolled in the Beta Channel of the Windows Insider Program.

If your computer isn't already in the Beta Channel, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on Windows Update.
  3. Click the Windows Insider Program page on the right side.
  4. Click the Get Started button.

  5. Click the Link an account.

  6. Confirm your Microsoft account.
  7. Click the Continue button.
  8. Select the Beta Channel (Recommended) option.

  9. Click the Continue button.

  10. Click the Restart now button.

After you complete the steps, you want to check for updates to prevent problems during the installation of the new feature since it requires the latest bits of Windows and Microsoft Store.

Check for Windows 11 updates

To download the latest updates, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on Windows Update.
  3. Click the Check for updates button.

Once you complete the steps, restart the computer to apply any pending updates.

Check for Microsoft Store update

If you want to install the Amazon Appstore app, the device must be using the Microsoft Store app version 22110.1402.6.0 or higher.

You can use these steps to update the store and check the current version:

  1. Open Microsoft Store app.
  2. Click on Library.
  3. Click the Get updates button.

  4. Click the Profile menu and select the App settings option.
  5. Confirm the version is equal to or higher than 22110.1402.6.0.

After you complete the steps, you can proceed to enable the virtualization features on the motherboard and Windows 11.

Enable virtualization

The Android apps support requires a computer with virtualization enabled at the hardware and software level. Since each computer is different, you may want to check your manufacturer support website for the specific steps to check and enable virtualization in the UEFI firmware of the motherboard. If you have a device with modern hardware, this feature may already be enabled. Once you confirm that virtualization is enabled on the computer, you can turn on the Virtual Machine Platform on Windows 11.

To enable the Virtual Machine Platform feature, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for Turn Windows features on or off and click the top result to open the experience.
  3. Check the Virtual Machine Platform option.

  4. Click the OK button.
  5. Click the Restart button.

Once you complete the steps, you can proceed to install the Windows Subsystem for Android and the Amazon Appstore.

Install Amazon Appstore and WSA

To install the Amazon Appstore with WSA, use these steps:

  1. Open the Amazon Appstore page.
  2. Click the Install button.

  3. Click the Set up button.

  4. Click the Download button.

  5. Click the Next button.
  6. Click the Restart button.

After you complete the steps, you can finally proceed to sideload Android apps on Windows 11.

How to sideload Android apps on Windows 11

The process to install and run Android apps has three steps. First, you need to set up the Android Debugging Bridge (ADB) tools to connect and install the apps. Then you need to provide the .apk file to install the application. Third, you need to use the ADB command to stream and install the package to the Windows Subsystem for Android virtual machine.

Set up Android Debugging Bridge

To set up the ADB tools, use these steps:

  1. Open Android developer website.
  2. Under the "Downloads" section, click the Download SDK Platform-Tools for Windows link.

  3. Check the option to accept the terms.
  4. Click the Downloads section, click the Download Android SDK Platform-Tools for Windows button.

  5. Saver the platform-tools zip to the computer.
  6. Open the recently downloaded zip folder.
  7. Click the Extract all button.

  8. Click the Browse button.

  9. Select the extraction destination.
  10. Click the Extract button.
  11. Open the platform-tools folder.
  12. Select and copy the path from the address bar.

Once you complete the steps, you need to download the Android app file you want to install on Windows 11.

Download Android apps

You will need to provide the ".apk" file to install the app you want through the Windows Subsystem for Android outside the Amazon Appstore.

Once you get the Android APK file from your favorite trusted repository, make sure to save it inside the platform-tools folder.

Sideload Android apps on Windows 11

To install Android apps outside the Amazon Appstore on Windows 11, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for Windows Subsystem for Android and click the top result to open the platform.
  3. Turn on the Developer mode toggle switch.

  4. Click the Copy button from the IP address setting.

    Quick tip: If the address is unknown, click the Manage developer settings option to spin WSA in the Developer mode setting and click the Refresh button in the IP address setting.

  5. Open Start.
  6. Search for Command Prompt, right-click the top result, and select the Run as administrator option.
  7. Type the following command to navigate to the platform-tools folder and press Enter:

    cd C:\PATH\TO\platform-tools

    In the command, change the path of the location where you extracted the files.

    For example, this command open the tool's location inside the "Downloads" folder:

    cd C:\Users\yourusername\Downloads\platform-tools_r31.0.3-windows\platform-tools

  8. Type the following command to connect to the WSA instance and press Enter:

    adb connect WSA-IP-ADDRESS

    In the command, replace "WSA-IP-ADDRESS" with the actual IP address of the Windows Subsystem for Android.

    For example, this command connects using the 172.17.114.137 address:

    adb connect 172.17.114.137

  9. Type the following command to install the Android app and press Enter:

    adb install ANDROID-APK-APPNAME

    In the command, replace "ANDROID-APK-APPNAME" with the actual .apk package name.

    For example, this command installs the package called apple-music-app.apk located in the platform-tools folder:

    adb install apple-music-app.apk

After you complete the steps, the app will install, and you can then find it and run it from the Start menu like any other native app on Windows.

More Windows resources

For more helpful articles, coverage, and answers to common questions about Windows 10 and Windows 11, visit the following resources:

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Expand your Xbox console with these external drive discounts

Par : Matt Brown

Download sizes for your favorite video games continue to grow, with external storage now one of the best investments for Xbox consoles. While already an essential item for Xbox One owners, Microsoft's latest Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S only magnify the issue with larger file sizes but the same restrictive storage capacities.

Events like Black Friday often bring unmatched savings, and many retailers have now dropped their best discounts. That makes it an ideal time to invest in some of the best external hard drives and SSDs for Xbox consoles, expanding your storage with more room for games. We've rounded up all the best value external hard drive and SSD deals currently live for Black Friday, all ideal for expanding Xbox Series X and Series S storage or adding more storage to Xbox One.

Seagate Game Drive for Xbox 2TB external hard drive

$70 at Amazon $70 at Best Buy

$70 $93 $23 off

Seagate is a leading name in external storage and this official Xbox-branded drive got an incredible price cut. That 2TB capacity can mean five times the available storage on many Xbox One consoles, evening tripling your space with Xbox Series X. You get a slick all-black shell with a green LED light bar, complementing any Xbox setup.

When considering the best Black Friday deals on external storage, it's crucial to consider whether you're looking for a hard disk drive (HDD) or solid-state drive (SSD) for your Xbox. Hard drives provide the most affordable upgrade, providing more capacity for your dollar. But upgrading to an SSD means drastically improved speeds, cutting transfer and loading times in the process.

It's also worth considering which size external drive works best for you. Xbox consoles support anything from 256GB through 16TB, but many high-capacity drives prove overkill for the average user. Unless you're a digital hoarder, upgrading your storage by just a couple of terabytes (TB) proves sufficient over time.

And for Xbox Series X and Series S owners, be aware of limitations imposed on USB storage. Microsoft's next-generation SSD inside its new consoles means that while USB drives can store Xbox Series X|S Optimized games, they need to be moved to the internal storage when played. That feature is reserved for the Storage Expansion Card, designed to match the internal SSD, although backward-compatible titles do play on any device.

With that said, this is the best of the bunch this Black Friday.

Best Black Friday hard drive deals for Xbox

For most, a hard drive offers excellent value for money, upping your storage beyond the base configuration. While you miss out on the speed benefits granted by the best SSDs for Xbox, they're considerably more affordable.

WD easystore 1TB external hard drive | Save $42 at Best Buy

Western Digital is one to trust in external storage, and this 1TB entry from its easystore series provides one of the cheapest expansions for Xbox consoles right now. Over 40% savings drops this down for Black Friday while providing ample space for more games and apps.

$43 at Best Buy

Seagate Game Drive 2TB external hard drive | Save $23 at Amazon and Best Buy

This 2TB "Game Drive" packs Seagate's storage tech into an Xbox-branded shell designed to work best for console gaming. While it's no different from other drives in terms of performance, it's currently available at $70, down from $90, and almost matching its killer Prime Day discount.

$70 at Amazon

$70 at Best Buy

WD 5TB Elements Portable external hard drive | Save $23 at Amazon

Expand your Xbox console with a serious storage upgrade, unlocking an additional 5TB of space for dozens of titles. While this may prove a little excessive for some, it's well suited to those with extensive game collections or cycling through Xbox Game Pass. While read and write speeds are mediocre, this is a cost-effective upgrade you don't want to miss this Black Friday.

$107 at Amazon

WD Black 5TB Game Drive | Save $25 at Amazon

$125 at Best Buy

The WD Black Game Drive gives you lots of storage to work with for storing your games on your shiny new consoles. With 5TB of space, there's room for more than 125 games on this drive alone, freeing up your internal storage for enhanced next-gen games.

Best Black Friday SSD deals for Xbox

SSDs deliver unparalleled performance, with their quick read and write speeds resulting in system-wide gains on Xbox Series X, Series S, and Xbox One consoles. Using these external drives cuts load times across most games, and those saved seconds accumulate over the years. And while strict storage requirements push Xbox Series X|S users to the Microsoft-approved Expansion Card, SSDs still reduce backward-compatibility load times and speed up transfer times to the internal SSD.

Seagate Expansion Card for Xbox Series X|S

Best for Series X|S

While this SSD is unlikely to see huge Black Friday discounts, it's still the best money can buy for Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S. The ultra-fast NVMe tech inside matches Microsoft's own internal SSD speeds, connecting through a dedicated proprietary port on the console. While that doesn't come cheap, it's the only storage that plays Xbox Series X|S Optimized titles. And as a heads up, this doesn't work with Xbox One consoles.

$220 at Microsoft

$220 at Amazon

WD 1TB Gaming Drive Accelerated for Xbox | Save $70 at Best Buy

Western Digital brought its SSD tech to gaming with an Xbox-branded drive, enabling the benefits of speedier USB storage on Xbox consoles. It's ideal for cutting load times over a slower mechanical hard drive and ongoing discounts have knocked $70 off the price.

$150 at Best Buy

Samsung T7 500GB external SSD | Save $20 at Amazon and Best Buy

The Samsung T7 range demonstrates the latest in portable SSD technologies, including 1,050MB/s read and 1,000MB/s write peak speeds, far outpacing previous generations. This 500GB variant has been our top recommendation year-round, with savings through Black Friday keeping it below $100. It's lightweight yet premium in an aluminum casing and available in three color options.

$80 at Amazon

$80 at Best Buy

Samsung T5 1TB external SSD | Save $20 at Amazon

Opting for a 1TB SSD comes at a premium, but this saving ahead of Black Friday grants more storage without the crazy price tag. We've opted for the previous T5 model here, undercutting the T7 despite sales on its successor, with peak speeds up to 540MB/s. That slowdown won't have a drastic impact on Xbox performance, with all the speed benefits and ample room for more games.

$120 at Amazon

Samsung T7 2TB external SSD | Save $38 at Amazon

High-capacity SSD drives are often prohibitively expensive, but the Samsung T7 has seen its 2TB model discounted for a limited time, shaving the cost. You're still looking at the same 1,050MB/s read, and 1,000MB/s write speeds, integral to the series, but with more space to pack your collection.

$220 at Best Buy

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Xbox Chaturdays 45: Xbox Game Pass misses target and a new Xbox MMO

Par : Miles Dompier

Join the conversation live!

For episode 45 of Xbox Chaturdays, we'll be joined by the incredible host of the XNC Podcast, Colteastwood. We'll be discussing Xbox missing growth targets for Game Pass, a new MMO from Xbox, the Xbox 20th Anniversary Stream, Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy, and so much more. If you're excited to catch up on all the biggest gaming news of the week, tune in to Xbox Chaturdays live every Saturday at 12 p.m. ET!

What is Xbox Chaturdays?

Xbox Chaturdays is our weekly Windows Central Gaming podcast. Every Saturday, we sit down with various Xbox developers, enthusiasts, and industry figures to chat about all things Xbox. We designed our show to provide exciting and engaging content for Xbox and PC players, highlighting what we love about gaming. From the best games on Xbox Game Pass to the titles we can't wait to play, there's always something fun to chat about.

With Xbox Chaturdays, we've built up a pretty incredible audience of live viewers that consistently keeps the show fresh and exciting with questions. Our show promotes community interaction, and we strive to immerse our viewers in the experience. If you haven't caught an episode before, head on over to the Windows Central Gaming YouTube channel to watch past episodes.

All the games

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate

From $1/month at Microsoft $40 at Amazon (3-month subscription) $15 at Amazon (1-month subscription)

Exceptional value!

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is the gift that keeps on giving. With 100s of awesome games and extra perks, this is hands-down the best deal in gaming right now.

☐ ☆ ✇ Windows Central - News, Forums, Reviews, Help for Windows 10 and all things Microsoft.

The ultimate resource guide to Windows 11

Par : Mauro Huculak

Windows 11 is out, and here's how to get started.

Windows 11 is slowly rolling out as a free upgrade for eligible devices known to have a good upgrade experience through Windows Update. However, you can also get it manually using the Installation Assistant, Media Creation Tool, or the official ISO file.

This is considered the original release that carries the 21H2 version, and a lot has changed. For example, Windows 11 now comes with a new interface that introduces a new simplified Start menu and redesigned Taskbar aligned to the center. Action Center is gone and replaced with Notification Center and Quick Settings, and the new "Widgets" feature will keep you informed with curated web content.

Microsoft is shipping a new version of File Explorer that ditches the ribbon-style menu. The new Settings app brings a new design and more possibilities to configure Windows 11. You will also find an overhauled Microsoft Store that includes more apps and better policies for developers. If you are setting up a new installation or device, the new out-of-box experience brings a new friendly interface and more customizations options, and a lot more.

In this Windows 11 guide, we will highlight everything you need to know to upgrade and start using the new features and improvements.

Windows 11 resources

Here's everything you need to know to get started with the new features and enhancements of Windows 11.

More on the new version

Windows 11

Windows 11 brings several new features and a bunch of improvements, including a new Start menu and Taskbar, redesigned Settings, Widgets, multitasking features, Linux GUI apps support, improved Store, and a lot more.

Download from Microsoft

How do I install Windows 11?

Windows 11 is now available as a free optional upgrade for computers already running Windows 10 through the Windows Update settings. Of course, this is a long as the device meets the minimum system requirements, which includes having enabled TPM 2.0 and Secure Boot.

If you plan to install the new version of Windows, you can also perform an in-place upgrade with the new Installation Assistant tool.

Alternatively, you can mount the Windows 11 ISO file to File Explorer to launch the setup wizard to perform an in-place upgrade or clean installation. You could also use the Media Creation Tool in the past, but the tool has been updated only to provide the functionality to create installation media.

You can also start with a fresh clean installation, which involves erasing the drive with the previous setup, and installing Windows 11 from scratch. This process takes a little more time and extra steps, but it helps start with a more stable configuration while minimizing problems during and after the installation.

In case you have a device that meets the minimum system requirements but doesn't have enough available space, it's still possible to upgrade. You only need external storage and these instructions.

How can I make a bootable USB flash drive for Windows 11?

Yes, you can create your very own bootable USB flash drive using the updated version of the Media Creation Tool.

Alternatively, you can also use third-party tools like Rufus, which includes an option to create an installation media providing an existing ISO file, or there's an option to download the installation files to make a USB flash drive.

How can I download the Windows 11 ISO file?

In addition to the tools to create a USB install media, Microsoft provides the Windows 11 ISO file. You can either use the Media Creation Tool, or you can download the ISO file directly from the official website.

The option to download the Windows 11 ISO file directly from the website is new. In the past, the only official method was to use the Media Creation Tool, but now, this has changed, and you can get the ISO file without resourcing to other tools or workarounds.

Why isn't Windows 11 available on my computer?

If you haven't received the notification to upgrade your computer to Windows 11, it's likely because the new version still is ready for your device, or the computer doesn't meet the minimum requirements.

Although Microsoft began the rollout on Windows 11 on Oct. 5, 2021, it doesn't mean that all devices will get it on day one. Similar to previous releases of Windows, the company is going with a gradual rollout approach.

During the initial phase, the software giant is using machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to select only devices with newer hardware that are known to have a good upgrade experience.

After a few weeks (or months), and after the new version has proven to be reliable, based on many factors, such as hardware compatibility, reliability metrics, and age of the computer, the rollout of Windows 11 will expand to more eligible devices.

The slow and controlled deployment will continue through the first half of 2022 when Microsoft is expected to make the new version fully available for all eligible devices.

If you don't see the notification in the Windows Update settings, you shouldn't force the upgrade manually to avoid possible problems.

Why is my computer running out of space after the Windows 11 upgrade?

If you recently upgraded your computer to Windows 11, you will probably notice that installation is taking a big chunk of space. However, it's not Windows 11 taking more space than Windows 10. Instead, it's the setup process that creates a copy of the previous installation in case something goes wrong during the installation and the system has to roll back.

The problem is that even if the upgrade is completed successfully, the copy of the previous version will be saved for if something happens after the installation, or you are uncomfortable with the new version and want to downgrade manually.

You can reclaim the space by deleting the previous installation files using the Storage settings, but after 10 days, these files will be deleted automatically by the system.

Can I reset the Windows 11 installation?

Absolutely, Windows 11 is based on the Windows 10 technologies, which means that this version also comes with the "Reset this PC" feature that allows you to restore the factory default settings to resolve the most common problem, improve performance, or get the device ready for decommissioning.

Using this recovery feature, you can do two things. You can reinstall Windows 11 with its default settings while keeping your files, and you can delete everything and start fresh with a new installation of the OS. Furthermore, the Reset this PC feature even gives you an option to proceed using the locally available image, or you can choose to download the installation from the Microsoft servers.

What's new with the Start menu on Windows 11?

Perhaps one of the most noticeable changes on Windows 11 is the new Start menu. The new menu has been designed to be a simple app launcher that embraces traditional icons ditching the Live Tiles design and follows the new design language with rounded corners and transparent materials.

The new experience includes a search box at the top, a section for your pinned app, and recommendations. You can rearrange the icons in any way you like by dragging and dropping the icons. You can uninstall most apps from the context menu, and you can still access the list with all the apps.

The "Recommended" section includes your recent files and recently installed apps, and while you cannot remove this section, you can prevent the Start menu from showing recent items.

What's new with the Taskbar on Windows 11?

Windows 11 also comes with a new version of the Taskbar, which has a similar look and feel. However, the new version comes with a lot of improvements (and disappointments).

In this new version of Windows, the Taskbar appears aligned at the center of the screen, introduces a new Start button design as well as new buttons for Search, Task View, Widgets, and Chat. You will notice new animations, and Microsoft has even added some work to the system tray.

However, to make this version a little simpler, Microsoft ended removing many useful settings, making the Taskbar a lot less functional. For example, even though you can change the alignment of the Taskbar, it's no longer possible to reposition it at the top, left, or right side of the screen. You cannot show labels, hide the date and time, change the icon size, and more.

If you like the desktop without the Taskbar, you can still enable the option to hide the bar automatically when it's not in focus.

Also, starting with this new version of Windows, you can no longer access the Task Manager from the Taskbar right-click menu. However, you can use these tips to find different these ways to keep access the app from the Taskbar, Start menu, and Desktop quickly.

What happened to Action Center on Windows 11?

Action Center is no longer a thing on Windows 11. Instead, the experience has been replaced with Notification Center and Quick Settings.

Notification Center is the place where you will find all your notifications and calendar. You can open the experience by clicking the "Date & Time" button in the system tray or using the Windows key + N keyboard shortcut.

Quick Settings is where you will find quick access to common settings, such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Battery, Brightness, Volume, and more. Usually, the settings in this flyout will depend upon the supported features on the computer. You can open the Quick Settings with the Windows key + A keyboard shortcut or clicking the Network and Volume icon.

What's new with Widgets on Windows 11?

Widgets is a new feature that provides quick access to a different type of online information without having to reach and open your phone to access the same content.

It looks familiar because this is an evolution of "News and interests" already available on Windows 10 with an interface that flies from the left side.

You can open the experience using the Windows key + W keyboard shortcut or clicking the Widgets button from the Taskbar, and it can show weather, news, sports, stocks, traffic, entertainment, Microsoft To-Do tasks, and Family Safety activities without reaching your phone to get to the same information.

What's new with the Lock screen on Windows 11?

Although the Lock screen is not getting a lot of improvements, you will notice that the time and date have a center alignment at the top of the screen. Also, you will see some Windows 11 element styles like the font and underline color when entering a PIN or password.

What's new with WSL on Windows 11?

The Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) is getting a lot of improvements on Windows 11. For instance, Microsoft simplifies the installation and update from multiple steps to a single command in this new version, including wsl --install for setup and wsl --update to update the platform.

Windows 11 now includes support for Linux GUI apps, which means that you can now install graphical apps and run them alongside Windows native updates.

In addition, you can now attach and mount physical drives to access Linux file systems on Windows 11, including "ext4."

Furthermore, File Explorer now includes quick access to your distro files using the "Linux" entry from the left navigation pane. Also, you can execute commands on startup, and WSL now comes with GPU compute.

What's new with the Microsoft Store on Windows 11?

After upgrading to Windows 11, you find a new version of the Microsoft Store app. The new app has been redesigned to a new interface to match the style of Windows 11, and there are a lot of improvements to help users make it easier to find and download apps, games, and videos.

In addition, Microsoft is making several critical changes to its policies to allow developers to publish virtually any kind of apps in the Store, including traditional Win32 (unpackaged .exe and .msi), .NET, and Progressive Web Apps (PWAs). Furthermore, moving forward, the company is letting developers keep 100% of the revenue when they bring their monetization platform.

Microsoft promised support of Android apps through the Windows Store, but this will happen at a later time. Finally, the company also announced that it's now allowing third-party app stores to become part of the Microsoft Store app, and the Epic Games Store is the next in line to come to the Store.

Are there any multitasking improvements on Windows 11?

Yes, Windows 11 comes with several multitasking improvements, Snap layouts and Snap groups, Desktops, and multiple displays improvements.

"Snap layouts" is a new menu that appears when hovering over the maximize button of any window, and it includes different layouts to snap windows on the screen. Once you select a layout and position, Snap assist will give you to continue snapping windows in the remaining space.

"Snap groups" is also part of the Snap assist experience, and it allows you to switch back to the group of spanned windows from the Taskbar by hovering over an app that belongs to a group and clicking the group preview.

On Windows 11, "Virtual Desktops" becomes "Desktops," and it's a feature that gives you the ability to create different virtual spaces to keep unrelated tasks separated, such as work, school, and gaming. (You can use this guide to learn more on how to get the most out of this feature.)

The feature works the same way as in previous versions, but it's been redesigned with an interface that now docks at the bottom of the screen, includes the ability to change the desktop background per desktop, and more.

When you disconnect your laptop to an external display, all the applications on the secondary screen will now minimize automatically. Then when you reconnect the monitor, the apps will restore automatically to their original location by default to improve the experience when working with multiple displays.

Finally, "Aero shake," the ability to grab and shake a window to minimize all the other windows, now has its own setting on the "Multitasking" settings page.

Does Windows 11 come with a new version of File Explorer?

Yes, but the new version of File Explorer includes an updated design, but it still retains much of the same look and feel of the legacy version.

The new File Explorer features an updated user interface that matches the visuals of Windows 11 with rounded corners, new iconography, and redesigned default folders (Desktop, Documents, Downloads, Pictures, etc.). Also, since the ribbon menu has been removed in favor of a new command bar that includes all the common actions and new menus to sort items and access different settings, including the ability to enable compact view and show hidden items.

In this new version, you are also getting a new (right-click) context menu design using rounded corners, semi-transparent materials, and new icons for the different actions, including Cut, Paste, Copy, etc. The new context menu is limited, and since many apps still don't support this new menu, Microsoft has added a "Show more options" item to access the classic context menu.

Furthermore, File Explorer for Windows 11 provides quick access to your WSL distros with the new "Linux" available from the left navigation pane. The Share experience has been updated, and much more.

What's new with Settings on Windows 11?

Windows 11 comes a new version of the Settings app that includes a modern design that follows the visuals of Windows 11 with rounded corners, colorful icons, semi-transparent materials, and more.

Although you will still find all the same settings as the version of the app for Windows 10, in this new version, they are grouped with a different logic, and you will find a lot of new settings.

The new Settings also ditches the homepage, and now, the app opens straight into the System section. As you move between sections, instead of listing all the pages in the left navigation pane, the pages are listed on the right side, and at the top, you will notice breadcrumbs letting you know where you are in the app.

Some sections can show hero controls highlighting specific features and frequently used settings that can change as you modify the system configuration.

Also, the related settings now appear at the bottom of the page instead of on the right side. Furthermore, the Settings app can now recommend settings based on your current configuration. So, if you are not using the optimal recommended settings, you will see a notification suggesting using different settings.

What's new with the touch keyboard on Windows 11?

The touch keyboard is getting a lot of improvements. On Windows 11, you can customize various aspects of the software keyboard for touch-enabled devices, for example, you can change it color with various themes, or you can create a custom color scheme. You can change the keyboard size, the size of the keys, and much more.

What's new with Chat from Microsoft Teams app on Windows 11?

Windows 11 comes with Chat, a new chat experience that's part of the consumer version of Teams. The app lets Windows users communicate with each other using text messages, video, and voice without installing anything else.

You first need to go through an initial setup, then you can start chatting with family and friends right from the desktop. You can also access the consumer version of Teams to create, join meetings, and change settings.

If Chat isn't for you, it's possible to remove completely with these instructions.

What's new with the out-of-box experience on Windows 11?

Windows 11 ships with a new, redesigned out-of-box experience (OOBE) that makes it easier for anyone to complete the initial setup. The new experience introduces a new interface that moves away from boring blue and dark colors scheme and sharp edges in favor of a more user-friendly design that follows the new design language on Windows 11, including rounded corners, new iconography and animations, and friendly colors.

In addition to the new visuals, the out-of-box experience now lets you set the computer name as you go through the initial setup, and there's an option to restore settings and apps using a backup from a previous installation or another device.

Does Windows 11 have any problems?

Yes, according to Microsoft, there are several known issues in this initial rollout of Windows 11, but nothing widespread that could force the company to halt the rollout. However, the software maker is placing an upgrade hold for the affected device until the problems are resolved.

For example, there's a problem with AMD Ryzen processors that is causing noticeable performance issues. Brother, the printer company, has confirmed that there is a compatibility issue with Windows 11 that prevents the system from detecting certain printers using a USB cable. Furthermore, Microsoft has also announced that some printers may fail to download and install their drivers due to a compatibility issue with an HTTP connection and the new version of Windows.

Some users have reported seeing the classic Start menu and the old Taskbar instead of the new design. Other people noted an incompatible message through Windows Update even though the devices meet the minimum system requirements, problems with the Installation Assistant, and more.

In addition to these problems, you may also come across other issues that are not caused by the new version during the upgrade process. Instead, the installation may fail because of drivers, poorly designed applications, custom configurations, and hardware issues.

You can use this guide to get around virtually any problem during and after the installation of Windows 11.

More Windows resources

For more helpful articles, coverage, and answers to common questions about Windows 10 and Windows 11, visit the following resources:

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Get some scares with the best Xbox horror games

Par : Samuel Tolbert

Looking for a solid scare? You've come to the right place. Horror games aren't the biggest part of the video game industry, but the last several years have seen something of a resurgence, with several high-quality horror games from different publishers making up some of the best Xbox games available.

If you're not sure where to start though, don't fret. We've rounded up the best Xbox horror games, the cream of the crop titles that you really shouldn't miss, regardless of whether you're a horror veteran or a newcomer looking for where to start.

An overview of Xbox horror games in 2021

There's a couple of key players helping to ensure the health of horror games as a whole. Japan-based publisher Capcom in particular has seen a massive resurgence, with the Resident Evil games selling millions of copies while shifting back into horror and exploring different themes with a balance of survival and action, all without losing the focus on being scary.

Some of the other developers working on horror games include Tango Gameworks, part of Bethesda Softworks and one of the 23 first-party Xbox studios producing some of the best Xbox Game Pass games. Arkane Studios, another pair of studios at Bethesda, is exploring horror concepts in its titles, while Asobo, well known for its work on Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020, has taken a dark, medieval approach to horror.

All in all, horror games still thrive in the indie scene, but the big budget titles can be and are successful. Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S owners should be able to look forward to even more big horror games in the upcoming years.

1. Resident Evil Village

Resident Evil Village takes the formula of Resident Evil 7: Biohazard and applies it a European Gothic setting filled to the brim with creatures inspired by vampires, werewolves, and other horror icons. It retains a first-person perspective introduced in the prior title but gives protagonist Ethan Winters more of a voice. The story mode is made to be replayed, with tons of unlockable weapons and hidden secrets across the sprawling castle and titular village. In addition to the story, Resident Evil Village also marks the return of Mercenaries mode, with fun timed trials for players looking to test their skills.

It's also a visual and technological showcase for Capcom's proprietary RE Engine. Resident Evil Village shines on the Xbox Series X, with ray-traced shadows providing stellar image quality, all while the game runs at a solid 60 FPS and loads extremely quickly thanks to the SSDs in the latest lineup of consoles. Long story short, Tall Vampire Lady looks extremely good.

A multiplayer game called Resident Evil Re:Verse was supposed to launch with Resident Evil Village but has unfortunately been delayed to 2022, so don't go into this expecting to get a multiplayer experience for now.

Pros:

  • High replay value
  • Visually gorgeous
  • Great survival-horror gameplay

Cons:

  • Accompanying multiplayer mode delayed

Resident Evil Village (Xbox Series X)

$60 at Microsoft

Resident Evil Village shows that Capcom can build on what works with its pillar franchises, all while taking risk in setting and themes. There's plenty for horror fans and horror newbies to enjoy here.

2. The Evil Within 2

If Tango Gamework's first stab at horror with The Evil Within was a great homage to Resident Evil 4, then The Evil Within 2 might be the closest thing we get to a modern day Silent Hill 2. Following the events of the first game, detective Sebastian Castellanos is recruited to go deep into Union, a Matrix-esque world that has been infected and twisted into a place of horror, filled with horrifying creatures.

The art direction is genuinely unnerving, as the world of Union transforms and falls apart before your eyes. Gameplay takes a third-person, semi-open approach, with players having to carefully balance resources and choose which weapons to upgrade in order to survive. Meanwhile, the story is surprisingly touching, with the game taking time to explore Sebastian's trauma as he struggles to rescue his family.

Outside of trying a new difficulty however, there's not much replay value or any other modes outside of a first-person option, which is something to keep in mind.

Pros:

  • Superb body horror enemy designs
  • Compelling story and realistic protagonist

Cons:

  • Limited alternate gameplay modes

The Evil Within 2 (Xbox)

$40 at Microsoft

Sebastian Castellanos isn't free from the nightmares yet. The Evil Within 2 improves practically every aspect of the original game with a surprisingly heartfelt story. Welcome to Union.

3. Alien Isolation

While Creative Assembly is best known for its strategy titles such as the upcoming Total War: Warhammer 3, the team tried its hand at a first-person horror title in 2014, to great success. Alien: Isolation puts players in the shoes of Amanda Ripley, daughter of Ellen Ripley from the Alien films. In this experience, players will have to cobble together meager resources as they navigate the malfunctioning Sevastapol station.

This might be Creative Assembly's first horror game, but it's one well worth playing. The Alien intelligently tracks and stalks the player throughout the many levels, while "Working Joe" androids are sure to set off your uncanny valley mental alarms. The station looks and sounds like it was ripped straight from the movies, with CRT-focused visuals that will always have you on edge.

Unfortunately, this game hasn't been boosted in any way for the latest consoles, so it's still a 1080p 30 FPS experience if you play it on Xbox.

Pros:

  • Incredible attention to detail
  • Legitimately scary Alien threat

Cons:

  • Locked to 1080p 30 FPS

Alien Isolation (Xbox)

$40 at Microsoft

Amanda is a talented engineer with her mother's wits. That's a good thing, because she'll need to stay resourceful to survive a dilapidated station with the perfect organism stalking throughout it.

4. Resident Evil 2

The 2019 title Resident Evil 2 is a remake of the original game. Shifting from tank controls and fixed camera angles to a third-person camera, players can experience the story of Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield on modern platforms. The gore is lovingly rendered with the RE Engine at 60 FPS, meaning you can quickly react to the overwhelming hordes of zombies and other monstrosities.

This is simply a wonderfully polished horror game, so there's a good reason it's sold over 8 million copies so far. If you're a veteran of the Resident Evil franchise, it's one well worth experiencing. If you aren't experienced with the franchise, it's a fantastic place to start. Once you go through the campaign as either Leon or Claire, you can go through it again, seeing a bit of the story that you didn't before.

It is worth noting that while these stories have some noticeable differences, the actual gameplay remains identical outside of some different weapons.

Pros:

  • Incredible visuals
  • Great performance capture

Cons:

  • Alternate routes don't diverge much

Resident Evil 2 (Xbox)

$40 at Microsoft

Experience the fall of Raccoon City Police Department, again or for the first time. Realistic visuals and tight gameplay make this one of the finest horror games of the last several years.

5. Dead Space 2

While the Dead Space remake from Motive Studios is on the way, you can go back and experience the original 2011 title right now through Xbox backward compatibility. Isaac Clarke is trying to recover from the trauma of his experience in the first game, when terror strikes the Sprawl. No longer confined to a sole ship, the action takes players across a huge station and into space with an even bigger arsenal. Dead Space 2 is one of the best-paced games of all time and well worth checking out even 10 years later.

If you enjoy the main game, there's also an additional mini-campaign called Severed, which tells an additional story during the early breakout of the Necromorph threat.

The game also benefits from Auto HDR, bringing out the colors of your armored suit and the neon lights around you in a way the original 360 game couldn't have possibly presented. Unfortunately, the game is still locked at 720p 30 FPS, so it might be a bit rough by modern standards.

Pros:

  • Excellent pacing and gameplay
  • Great use of Auto HDR

Cons:

  • Stuck at 720p 30 FPS

Dead Space 2 (Xbox)

$20 at Microsoft

"Isaac, we're all gonna burn for what we did to you." Those haunting words set the tone for the immediate danger you face in Dead Space 2. The Necromorphs are back, and Isaac is having a very, very bad day.

6. A Plague Tale: Innocence

Asobo Studio came in with a surprise hit in A Plague Tale: Innocence. It's something of a dark medieval horror game, juxtaposing the beautiful French countryside and two loving children with the horrifying threat of the Inquisition and an ancient conspiracy. Oh, and rats. Massive swarms of all-consuming rats.

Playing as Amicia de Rune, you'll struggle to care for your younger brother Hugo and navigate the dark world you've been thrust into. It's a legitimately gorgeous game, with an optional 120 FPS mode on Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S. The gameplay is solid enough, though there is a bit of room for improvement. Fortunately, the studio will have the opportunity to do just that in the upcoming sequel, A Plague Tale: Requiem.

Pros:

  • Gorgeous visuals
  • Striking contrast between calm and horror
  • Solid story

Cons:

  • Gameplay could use some refinements

A Plague Tale: Innocence (Xbox Series X)

$40 at Microsoft $30 at Amazon

A Plague Tale: Innocence delivers an emotional story and gripping terror in equal measures. It'll take everything you have to survive and keep your brother safe in this dark medieval story.

7. Prey

Arkane Studios specializes in immersive sims, games that are truly unique and allow players to solve problems by manipulating their environment with realistic physics and an expansive toolset. With the 2017 Prey, Arkane also proved that it understands horror, with a dark story unfolding before Morgan Yu's eyes, as nothing is as simple as it appears to be. The game unfolds across the Talos 1 space station, an incredibly well-designed environment that feels believable and lived-in.

Prey is one of the titles that benefits from Xbox FPS Boost, so it runs at a smooth 60 FPS, allowing players to react even faster to the paranoia-inducing Mimics that can imitate practically any item in the game. Nowhere is safe and you can never be sure you've truly cleared a room. You can use Neuromods to boost your capabilities or give you unique powers, but you'll need to be careful: Grow beyond human potential too much, and you might lure in something even worse.

While it's an excellent story, the pacing does suffer towards the end, with quite a bit of backtracking, something that is alleviated on the latest consoles due to faster loading times on SSDs, but is still worth mentioning.

Pros:

  • Unique setting
  • Unnerving alien threat
  • Near-limitless possibilities for problem-solving

Cons:

  • Pacing is jarring towards the end

Prey

$30 at Microsoft

Morgan Yu isn't sure what just happened. What is certain: There's a shapeshifting alien menace taking over Talos 1, and it'll take everything you can muster to get out alive.

8. Alan Wake Remastered

Alan Wake Remastered is the best way to experience one of Remedy Entertainment's best games. It's a remaster, not a remake, so the controls haven't been touched, meaning the combat can feel a bit dated. There's also no HDR or ray tracing. Outside of that, players can look forward to a solid 4K 60 FPS experience, with new character models and improved textures over the original game.

Alan Wake Remastered is a great way for newcomers to experience a classic, as the story sees titular author Alan Wake on a retreat with his wife Alice. When a mysterious darkness starts spreading and infecting the town's inhabitants, Alice is kidnapped and Wake loses a week of his memory. It's some of Remedy's best writing, and it's a game that shouldn't be missed.

Pros:

  • Fantastic storytelling
  • Solid 4K 60 FPS

Cons:

  • Lack of HDR and ray tracing
  • Dated combat

Alan Wake Remastered (Xbox Series X)

$30 at Microsoft $30 at Amazon $30 at Best Buy

Dive back into Remedy Entertainment's classic horror story with Alan Wake Remastered. The dark is coming, and it'll take everything Alan can find to have a hope of driving it back.

Horror games are thriving on Xbox

Horror games remain a smaller genre but there's plenty to choose from. With big titles continuing to get sequels and publishers exploring high-quality remakes, it's never been a better time to catch up on the horror games you've missed, or if you're a newcomer, start exploring the concept of horror for the first time ever.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Samuel Tolbert is a freelance writer covering gaming news, previews, reviews, interviews and different aspects of the gaming industry, specifically focusing on Xbox and PC gaming on Windows Central. You can find him on Twitter @SamuelTolbert.

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Join us LIVE for the Windows Central Video Podcast today at 2:30PM ET

Par : Zac Bowden

Join Daniel Rubino and Zac Bowden for a LIVE recording of the Windows Central Video Podcast!

Make sure you join us for the broadcast of this week's Windows Central Video Podcast, LIVE today at 2:30pm ET. For those in different time zones, here's when we'll be live: Convert your time zone here.

Head to our YouTube page to see the podcast or watch the embed above.

We'll be talking about this week's biggest Microsoft news. Make sure you're there! Be sure to be following us on Twitter as we'll be tweeting out when the show begins. Alternatively, bookmark this page and come back later, as the player embedded in this post will be where we stream to.

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Microsoft didn’t buy TikTok, but there is a Windows account that’s funny

Par : Sean Endicott

Memes and nostalgia abound on the Windows TikTok account.

What you need to know

  • Windows has a TikTok account that regularly shares funny videos.
  • The Windows Twitter account shared a Windows rap from the TikTok account.
  • Microsoft started the Windows TikTok account earlier this month.

Microsoft didn't end up buying TikTok, but the company has several accounts on the platform. Microsoft, Surface, and Microsoft Education have accounts on TikTok. Earlier this month, an official Windows account was created on the social media platform. If you're a fan of Windows memes, it's worth checking out.

For those that aren't on TikTok that often, the Windows Twitter account did a bit of cross-media promotion today. The Twitter account shared a video from TikTok of a Windows rap. The rap's verse is set over a beat featuring iconic Windows sound effects and chimes.

We started a TikTok so when our bosses catch us on it we can say it's for work. https://t.co/0xwWvqZ94y @Piff_Marti pic.twitter.com/OktCaGXZ1h

— Windows (@Windows) October 22, 2021

The Windows TikTok account also features a group singing Windows startup sounds, a closer look at the limited edition Windows Bloomberry ice cream, and a clip of the Microsoft Internet Keyboard.

Interestingly, the only account that the Windows account follows on TikTok is Emily Zugay, a star of the platform known for her flat affect sarcasm. Some of her most famous videos center around remaking iconic company logos in ironic ways. Zugay is quite famous on the platform but is a bit odd to see as the only person followed by the Windows account.

We're still waiting for an official Windows Phone account.

TikTok for Windows

See at Microsoft

TikTok is a viral video platform with content ranging from hilarious to cringeworthy. The Windows account has a mixture of both.

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Razer Wolverine V2 review: Razer's Xbox controller almost feels illegal

Par : Jez Corden

Building a better mousetrap.

Razer's Wolverine controller for Xbox proved itself to be a capable alternative to the Xbox Elite Controller and other competing solutions. The company since returned with a Razer Wolverine V2 version, which improved on the original in almost every way, while omitting other features.

The Razer Wolverine V2 Chroma is here, now featuring pretty RGB lights and a whole range of features that all types of gamers should pay close attention to. While it is double the price of a standard Xbox Series X|S controller, it does provide a wealth of features that are otherwise unavailable to regular Xbox controllers. This gamepad also builds on the original V2 in various ways, making me wonder why it isn't actually called a V3.

This is the Razer Wolverine V2 Chroma, arguably one of the best Xbox controllers money can buy. If you don't mind wired controllers, at least.

Razer Wolverine V2 Chroma

Bottom line: The Razer Wolverine V2 is an excellent controller, with arguably superior sticks and buttons than the official Xbox controller itself. The extra features sweeten the deal, with a sensitivity clutch aspect that feels almost too good to be true. The big downside, as usual, is that it's wired only.

The Good

  • Pretty lights
  • Various additional mappable buttons
  • Back paddles return
  • Great action on the buttons and sticks
  • Sensitivity clutch feels almost like cheating

The Bad

  • Wired only
  • More than double the price of a standard controller

$100 at Amazon

Razer Wolverine V2 Chroma: Price and availability

The Razer Wolverine V2 Chroma enjoys good availability at all major retailers, including the likes of Amazon, Walmart, and Best Buy. You can also grab it from Razer's own website. The controller comes in both black and white configurations, to match your Xbox Series X or your Xbox Series S.

Razer Wolverine V2 Chroma: The good stuff

I'm generally skeptical of third-party controllers, but Razer made me a believer right out of the box with the Wolverine V2 Chroma.

The Wolverine V2 Chroma is a wired option compatible with Xbox consoles and PC. It lacks wirelessness due to Corsair's patent ownership of the tech, which is a bummer. You definitely shouldn't let that put you off, though.

Design-wise, the Razer Wolverine V2 Chroma is artificially similar to the standard Xbox controller, with the familiar offset joysticks, ABXY buttons, and even the new Xbox Series X|S share button. Where the V2 Chroma starts to diverge is in its premium features, which make the doubled price point seem more than fair.

The Wolverine V2 has rubberized, textured grips that Xbox Elite Controller users may be familiar with, complete with magnetic interchangeable joysticks, a couple of which can be found inside the box with different cap styles. Across the top, we also have additional shoulder buttons, with a further four buttons on the reverse in the form of back paddles. Since the first version of the V2 removed the back paddles from the V1, seeing them return with gusto is a welcome improvement. You also get trigger locks for good measure, which reduces the travel time of the triggers, allowing you to fire more rapidly in shooters and other games.

Usually, on third-party controllers, there's this uncanny sense of "ugh" while doing direct comparisons to Microsoft's home-grown buttons and triggers. I can safely say there's no such sense of "ugh" with the Wolverine V2 Chroma. In fact, the buttons and triggers are among the nicest I've used, and it wasn't long before I forgot almost entirely that I was using them. They even have a clicky "mouse-like" actuation feel to them, which is interesting.

The Razer Wolverine V2 Chroma gives you a noticeable advantage in competitive play.

The additional buttons can be configured fairly extensively using the Razer Controller app, free on Xbox and Windows 10/11. This app lets you assign various functions to the buttons, including the standard Xbox controls, as well as a few additional toggles courtesy of Razer, one of which almost feels like cheating.

Although it took a fair bit of practice to get used to, the sensitivity clutch feature on the Wolverine V2 can be truly game-changing in some scenarios. Playing Widowmaker or Ashe in Overwatch, holding down a paddle assigned to the sensitivity clutch reduces the speed at which the joysticks actuate motion.

I could keep the sensitivity high for movement, but lower the sensitivity for making more precise shots at a distance. I'm usually fairly terrible at landing headshots, but I can say without a doubt, this almost immediately helped, even if it took some training to get used to the positioning.

When you combine the trigger locks, the sensitivity clutch, and the back paddles, the Razer Wolverine V2 Chroma has far more utility than the standard controller, giving you a noticeable advantage in competitive play. In games like Chivalry 2 with fairly complex controls, being able to map regular actions to the paddles makes motion far easier, since you don't have to take your fingers off the thumbsticks for any reason.

Razer Wolverine V2 Chroma: The bad stuff

No product is perfect, and the Razer Wolverine V2 Chroma is no exception. The most notable and obvious omission is wirelessness. As I mentioned earlier, Corsair owns the patent for wireless gamepads, which puts limitations on the tech's use. The Wolverine V2 Chroma comes with a detachable USB-C cable this time, although I'm not sure exactly why you'd ever want to detach it. Given that USB-C doesn't anchor itself into ports as well as Micro-USB does, I'm not sure this was the best choice.

The other downside is potentially the price, although I'd argue that it's quite generous given all of the features you're getting here. A regular Xbox controller costs $40, but the Razer Wolverine V2 Chroma costs more than double, at $100. If you're someone who doesn't think they'll use the extra features, or someone who doesn't get too competitive in games like Call of Duty or Fortnite, I'm not sure losing wirelessness is worth the asking price.

Razer Wolverine V2 Chroma: Should you buy it?

The Razer Wolverine V2 Chroma is a great product that defied my personal stigma I somewhat irrationally attach to third-party controllers, perhaps stemming from the deluge of poor-quality stuff we used to get in the '90s. The ergonomics are on point, the buttons and sticks are top-notch, and the feature set is generous for the price point.

You should buy this if ...

  • You're a competitive gamer looking for an additional advantage
  • You like sparkly Razer lights

You shouldn't buy this if ...

  • You're a more casual gamer who is already pretty happy with the regular Xbox controller

It's loathsome somewhat that this lacks wirelessness, due to patent stuff, but Razer can hardly be blamed for that — although, it may be a dealbreaker for you.

4.5 out of 5

The Razer Wolverine V2 is a great alternative to the likes of the Xbox Elite Controller or the SCUF Instinct Pro Controller, though. It brings you paddles, hair triggers, and that immensely cool sensitivity clutch that is a sniper's dream. For any form of competitive play, the Razer Wolverine V2 Chroma is more than worth it. And hey, RGBs makes us all better gamers, right?

Razer Wolverine V2

Bottom line: The Razer Wolverine V2 is undeniable in its quality, with great construction, materials, and ergonomics. For what it lacks in wirelessness, it makes up for it with features. That sensitivity clutch almost feels like cheating for competitive FPS, and back paddles ensure you never have to take your thumbs away from movement.

$100 at Amazon

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ASUS TUF 24.5 gaming monitor down to just $230, but you’ll have to act fast

Par : Sean Endicott

The ASUS TUf 24.5 gaming monitor is even more affordable for a limited time.

Black Friday isn't for another month, but Best Buy already has some of the best deals you'll see this holiday season. Right now, you can grab the ASUS TUF 24.5 FHD gaming monitor for $230. That's a discount of $100 off a monitor that already delivered good value for its price. The deal concludes at the end of October 22, 2021.

The ASUS TUF 24.5 FHD is a 25-inch gaming monitor. It has a native refresh rate of 240Hz that can boost up to 280Hz. The monitor also supports G-SYNC to reduce tearing and to help ensure smooth gameplay. It's DisplayHDR400 certified as well. Extra-Low Motion Blur (ELMB) is also supported, which can be used simultaneously with Adaptive-Sync at 280Hz.

ASUS TUF 24.5 gaming monitor

$230 at Best Buy

This 1080p gaming monitor has a native refresh rate of 240Hz that can boost up to 280Hz. It also supports G-SYNC and Extra-Low Motion Blur.

Our friends at Tom's Hardware summarize the value of the monitor in their ASUS TUF VG259QM Monitor Review:

With most gaming monitors, you get what you pay for. There are many value choices that deliver great performance, and if you spend more on a premium screen, you generally get a premium experience. But every once in a while, a monitor comes along that offers something unique and wonderful at a reasonable price. The Asus TUF Gaming VG259QM is that monitor.

The biggest draw of the monitor is its ability to run Adaptive-Sync and ELMB at the same time. Tom's Hardware calls this a game changer.

"ELMB bests any overdrive we've seen at maintaining motion resolution at high frame rates. There is literally no difference in appearance between moving objects and stationary ones," says Tom's Hardware. "Background textures stay sharp no matter what. And control response is as fast as it gets. The experience is addictive and once you see a VG259QM in action, you'll have a hard time going back to another monitor."

At $230, the ASUS TUF 24.5 FHD comes in at a lower price than many of the best PC gaming monitors while still competing in several key areas, though it only has a 1080p resolution.

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QNAP's TVS-672XT is the best NAS you can buy to run Plex

Par : Rich Edmonds

When shopping around for the best NAS for home, if you have Plex in mind as to what you'll be using your NAS for, there are a few additional factors to consider. To enjoy all your favorite 4K content, you'll need to have a capable NAS enclosure, which means a powerful CPU. That's where this collection of enclosures comes into play, allowing you to take your media to the big screen without any buffering.

The best Plex NAS at a glance

  1. QNAP TVS-672XTBest overall: Intel CPU, 6 bays, 8GB RAM, 10Gb LAN.
  2. ASUSTOR NIMBUSTOR 4 (AS5304T)Best runner-up: Intel CPU, 4 bays, 4GB RAM, 2.5Gb LAN.
  3. TerraMaster F2-221Best affordable: Intel CPU, 2 bays, 2GB RAM, 1Gb LAN.
  4. QNAP TVS-872XT-i5Best performance: Intel CPU, 8 bays, 16GB RAM, 10Gb LAN.
  5. Synology DiskStation DS220+Best value: Intel CPU, 2 bays, 2GB RAM, 1Gb LAN.
  6. QNAP TS-H886Best capacity: Intel CPU, 8 bays, 16GB RAM, 2.5Gb LAN.

With continued high levels of demand and an issue with the supply of components, NAS enclosure stock levels are all over the place. Should an enclosure not be in stock right now, be sure to keep tabs on the retailer or check elsewhere.

How to choose the best NAS for Plex

Choosing the best NAS for home is one thing, but picking the right NAS for Plex is a whole different game. It's easy to look at the most affordable enclosures available and pick them for Plex, which would be sufficient for music and phones. Still, if you plan on transcoding and streaming 4K content, you'll need powerful components for Plex NAS compatibility.

Many vendors produce NAS enclosures that are great for Plex (and some transcoding); it's simply the case of picking out the highlight models. You can easily find at least one from the likes of Synology, QNAP, and ASUSTOR. If we were to recommend one NAS for you to buy to have the best Plex experience, it would be the QNAP TVS-672XT. It's powerful enough for Plex with plenty of other features.

A good runner-up is the ASUSTOR NIMBUSTOR 4 (AS5304T), which also has some kick-ass networking for game streamers and unique design. And if you want to save some money or don't plan on storing too many media files, the Synology DiskStation DS220+ is a sound choice for an affordable Plex that houses an Intel CPU and support for Plex Media Server.

It all comes down to what you plan on using a Plex NAS media server for. If it's merely music and photo streaming, you can get away with vastly less powerful and more affordable NAS enclosures. It's movies and shows where transcoding may be required, especially for 4K content, where you'll need additional firepower unless the NAS has HDMI output.

It's all about the processor. For Plex, you're going to want an Intel processor at the very least. Intel Atom, Celeron, and Core series processors are all different, too, with certain SKUs only supporting 1080p transcoding. If you plan on primarily playing 4K content that may require transcoding to recipient devices, an Intel Core processor is certainly the way to go. Still, the enclosure would be considerably more costly.

QNAP TVS-672XT

Best NAS for Plex

Bottom line: The QNAP TVS-672XT is the best NAS for Plex in our collection. It houses an Intel Core i3-8100T processor, which is ideal for the transcoding of 4K movies, and there are eight drive bays for storing all your favorite shows, music, movies, and photos. The single 10Gb LAN port is brilliant for high-speed networks. This NAS ticks all the right boxes.

CPU: Intel Core i3-8100T | Drive bays: 6 | RAM: 8GB DDR4 (max 32GB) | Features: 1x 10Gb LAN, 2x Thunderbolt 3, 1x USB 3.1 Gen 2, HDMI

Pros:

  • Powerful Intel Core i3 CPU
  • 6 drive bays (72TB capacity)
  • 10Gb LAN
  • Upgradable DDR4 RAM
  • Excellent QNAP OS

Cons:

  • Pricey
  • High power draw

The QNAP TVS-672XT is the best NAS for Plex, in my opinion. The balance between price and functionality is excellent, making it the most powerful enclosure for this price point by a country mile. This is primarily due to the impressive Intel Core i3-8100T processor, which is far beyond the Intel Celeron CPUs found in more affordable (and sometimes more expensive) enclosures.

It's not the best CPU you can find in a NAS, but if you plan on going for an Intel Core i5 or Core i7, you'll be expected to pay for the luxury. The integrated graphics and four physical cores are more than a match for 4K transcoding, which is required if you want to stream a 4K movie to a TV or other receiving device that doesn't support the file format.

The Intel Core CPU is joined by 8GB of DDR4 RAM, which can be upgraded to 32GB, further cementing this NAS as a substantial investment for the future. The 8 drive bays are more than enough for storing all your media with up to 96TB of capacity available.

But the highlight specifications don't end there. There is a single 10Gb LAN port, potentially handling network speeds upwards of 1000MB/s. Then you have USB-A 3.1 Gen 2 ports and a further single USB-C 3.1 Gen 2 ports, as well as HDMI. The only drawback to this NAS is the price, which can put some people off.

Best overall

QNAP TVS-672XT

$1,899 at Amazon

$1,759 at Newegg

QNAP TVS-672XT comes with some serious performance. The single 10Gb LAN port, a capable Intel Core i3 processor, HDMI out, and six bays make this one of the best NAS for Plex.

ASUSTOR NIMBUSTOR 4 (AS5304T)

Best runner-up NAS for Plex

Bottom line: The NIMBUSTOR 4 (AS5304T) is a brilliant NAS from ASUSTOR, rocking a striking design that sets it apart from the rest of the enclosure lineup. However, it's not all about looks since this NAS has a capable Intel CPU, plenty of RAM, and fast networking.

CPU: Intel Celeron J4105 | Drive bays: 4 | RAM: 4GB DDR4 (max 8GB) | Features: 2x 2.5Gb LAN, 3x USB 3.2 Gen 1, 1x HDMI 2.0a

Pros:

  • Powerful Intel processor
  • 4 drive bays (64TB capacity)
  • 2x 2.5Gb LAN with link aggregation
  • Upgradable DDR4 RAM
  • Excellent ASUSTOR OS

Cons:

  • No 10Gb LAN
  • Bay locks feel flimsy
  • No M.2 slots
  • Pricey

The ASUSTOR AS5304T is an excellent NAS. It's almost the best NAS for Plex. You can use it for home file storage, game streaming, and even Plex. The rather beefy Intel Celeron J4105 CPU is a cracking processor and has enough performance to handle even 4K movie transcoding. It's not the best around but is perfectly matched for media consumption.

There's 4GB of DDR4 RAM that is ample for most tasks, including Plex, but it's upgradable if you wish to install modules up to 8GB in capacity. ASUSTOR's OS is as good as QNAP and Synology. There are plenty of apps and third-party services that can be hooked into this enclosure to expand its capabilities.

Rocking dual-2.5Gb LAN almost eliminates any network bottlenecks, so long as your LAN infrastructure can keep up. This is especially important if you're a streamer and are looking for something that can handle the bandwidth that comes with offloading recorded media.

There is a downside to this enclosure, and that's the price, which puts it above other four-bay enclosures, but you get so much more for your money here. It isn't easy to find speedy LAN ports without going far beyond your budget, even though vendors are working to bring faster ports to more affordable NAS models.

Best runner-up

ASUSTOR NIMBUSTOR 4 (AS5304T)

$482 at Amazon

$429 at Newegg

Rocking a powerful Intel Celeron processor, four drive bays, speedy 2.5Gb LAN ports, and upgradable DDR4 RAM, this is one excellent NAS enclosure.

TerraMaster F2-221

Absolute best affordable NAS to use with Plex

Bottom line: Two is the magic number for the F2-221, not only in the model number but also with the specifications. It has 2GB of RAM, two 1Gb LAN ports, and two USB 3.0 ports. Oh, and two drive bays. Your affordable entrance to the wonderful world of NAS and Plex awaits you.

CPU: Intel Celeron J3355 | Drive bays: 2 | RAM: 2GB DDR4 (max 6GB) | Features: 2x 1Gb LAN, 2x USB 3.0

Pros:

  • Intel Celeron processor
  • 2 drive bays (28TB capacity)
  • 2x 1Gb LAN
  • Upgradable DDR4 RAM
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • OS is okay
  • No 2.5Gb or 10Gb LAN

The TerraMaster F2-221 is an impressive NAS. It has but two drive bays so you won't be storing much on this enclosure if you configure RAID (and you really should). So that leaves 16TB of capacity, which could be increased using an external storage unit. But it's the processor where this little unit truly shines.

The Intel Celeron J3355 is good enough to handle most of the things you need to do with Plex. Stream to multiple devices? Check. Transcode a few movies that aren't compatible? Check. It's when you want to try to enjoy 4K content that requires transcoding is where it all starts to fall apart. So long as everything is in line, you can watch 4K movies on this small enclosure.

This is aided by the fact TerraMaster lets you upgrade the 2GB RAM to 6GB. That's equally impressive for such an affordable NAS enclosure. Add in the two 1Gb ports and two USB 3.0 ports, and you've got an excellent starter enclosure for anyone who has yet to own a NAS or set up and enjoy Plex Media Server.

Best budget

TerraMaster F2-221

$260 at Amazon

$260 at Newegg

The TerraMaster F2-221 has enough for you to get started with Plex Media Server; just don't go expecting to fire up your favorite 4K movie that requires some transcoding.

QNAP TVS-872XT-i5

Best NAS for Plex with amazing performance

Bottom line: If you want something a little more potent than the rest of our picks here, there's always the QNAP TVS-872XT-i5 with its Core i5 processor. This processor is a dream for those wanting to set up and run a Plex Media Server. Want to stream 4K movies to multiple devices? No problem.

CPU: Intel Core i5-8400T | Drive bays: 8 | RAM: 16GB DDR4 (max 32GB) | Features: 1x 10Gb LAN, 2x 1Gb LAN, 2x Thunderbolt 3, 4x USB 3.2 Gen 2, 2x M.2 slots

Pros:

  • Powerful Intel Core i5-8400T CPU
  • 8 drive bays (128TB+ capacity)
  • 1x 10Gb LAN
  • Upgradable DDR4 RAM
  • Excellent QNAP OS

Cons:

  • Pricey

There are NAS enclosures, and then there are NAS enclosures. The QNAP TVS-872XT-i5 is something else. Intel Celeron processors are great, so too is an Intel Core i3, but how does an Intel Core i5 CPU sound? That's precisely what this enclosure can be configured with. We've highlighted the model with an Intel Core i5-8400T processor.

This CPU is a monster for anything you wish to do with the NAS, but even for Plex, it's excellent for transcoding 4K content to multiple devices. If you have a busy home that loves to consume media, this is a great enclosure to consider. It's not all about the CPU, though. The CPU would be bottlenecked if QNAP didn't include enough RAM.

Inside, the TVS-882BRT3 comes with 16GB of DDR4 RAM installed, but you can easily upgrade it to a whopping 64GB if needed. That's more than what even the more capable desktop PCs have available. Then there's the fact this thing comes with two Gigabit ports and one 10Gb port so you can link them up for increased bandwidth for all the streaming.

The eight drive bays allow you to store up to 128TB of data, not taking into account RAID configurations for data redundancy. Still, you do get a few Thunderbolt 3 ports. If you can afford such an enclosure, you'll be bound to have a good time since this is the best NAS for Plex in terms of performance.

Best performance

QNAP TVS-872XT-i5

$2,385 at Amazon

$2,246 at Newegg

This is one of the best NAS enclosures around for Plex, thanks to the capable Intel Core i5 and Core i7 processors, and eight drive bays.

Synology DiskStation DS220+

A great affordable and value NAS for Plex pick

Bottom line: My pick for the best affordable Plex NAS Synology simply has to be the DiskStation DS220+. The company recently released this enclosure with improved internals and a better CPU. It's a fantastic NAS enclosure for the price and can even handle some 4K transcoding, should you require it.

CPU: Intel Celeron J4025 | Drive bays: 2 | RAM: 2GB DDR4 (max 6GB) | Features: 2x 1Gb LAN, 2x USB 3.0, upgradable RAM

Pros:

  • Powerful Intel processor
  • 2 drive bays (32TB capacity)
  • 2x 1Gb LAN with link aggregation
  • Upgradable DDR4 RAM
  • Excellent Synology OS

Cons:

  • No M.2 slots
  • Limited capacity with RAID
  • No 2.5Gb LAN

The Synology DiskStation DS220+ may be considerably more affordable than our top NAS picks for Plex, but don't let that fool you into assuming it won't be able to handle its own. This capable enclosure comes rocking an Intel Celeron J4025 processor, which is more than enough to handle 4K transcoding of movies, so long as you only have one stream running.

It's not all about the CPU, however, which is why Synology included 2GB of DDR4 RAM, and you can upgrade that later if you find yourself hitting capacity often. The only drawback is two drive bays, which does restrict just how much you can store on the NAS. If you configure the drives to be in a RAID configuration (and we recommend you do), you'll be left with up to 16TB of storage space.

Other highlights include two 1Gb LAN ports that can be linked together to increase available bandwidth to your router or switch. There are a few USB ports too that let you hook up external storage or accessories. The OS is one of the best around from Synology, allowing you to get more done.

Installing drives inside this enclosure is also a breeze, thanks to the hot-swappable tool-less design of the bays. Simply extract, install the drive, and re-insert, and you're good to go. This isn't the best NAS out there for Plex, but it won't cause a hole in your wallet.

Best value

Synology DiskStation DS220+ NAS

$292 at Amazon

$300 at Newegg

The DiskStation DS220+ is a well-positioned NAS with an attractive price and plenty of performance. It only has two drive bays and 1Gb LAN, but the upgradable RAM and excellent OS make up for these drawbacks.

QNAP TS-H886

Top pick for people who need a LOT of storage

Bottom line: The QNAP TS-H886 is an excellent NAS. It has a powerful Intel Xeon D-1622 processor, 16GB of DDR4 RAM preinstalled, four 12.5Gb ports, and two expansion slots. This is a NAS you should consider if you need a capable storage device to store plenty of media with the capability of driving 4K transcoding.

CPU: Intel Xeon D-1622 | Drive bays: 8 | RAM: 16GB DDR4 (max 128GB) | Features: 4x 2.5Gb LAN, 3x USB 3.2 Gen 1, 2x M.2 slots

Pros:

  • Powerful Intel Xeon D-1622
  • 8 drive bays (112TB+ capacity)
  • 4x 2.5Gb LAN
  • Upgradable DDR4 RAM
  • Excellent QNAP OS

Cons:

  • Pricey

The QNAP TS-H886 is what you need for storing countless movies and shows. We could have gone with a 12-bay NAS with a mediocre processor, but if you plan to store more than 100TB worth of content, chances are some of it will be in 4K. It's got one impressive CPU, making it easily the best NAS for Plex if you need power.

This is where the Intel Xeon D-1622 comes into play. It's powerful enough to make mince work of 1080p transcoding and can even have a bash at 4K, so long as you don't have a bunch of clients attempting to do so simultaneously. This beefy CPU is joined by 8GB of expandable RAM and eight drive bays in total — six for HDDs and a further two for SSDs.

For networking, QNAP decided to go with four 2.5Gb ports, so there's plenty to play with here, even if you've yet to upgrade your home network to 2.5Gb/s. The addition of two M.2 slots allows you to install two SSDs to act as caching and improve performance further.

Best capacity

QNAP TS-H886

$1,789 at Amazon

The QNAP TS-H886 has it all. Six HDD bays with a further two for SSDs, two M.2 slots, upgradable RAM to 128GB, a powerful Intel Xeon D-1622 CPU. You name it, this NAS has it.

What about all other NAS enclosures?

To say there are enough NAS enclosures to choose from is an understatement. The choice available is immense, but not so much for Plex. If you don't like the look of our top pick, there are plenty of other shortlisted enclosures worth considering for installing and running a Plex Media Server.

It's possible to get similarly powered enclosures from different vendors too. It doesn't have to be Synology. You can easily pick a good NAS that will run Plex well from ASUSTOR, QNAP, among others. If you want to stream your favorite shows, movies, music, and some photos, most NAS enclosures with an Intel processor will be enough.

When you enter the world of 4K content and incompatibilities between the server and receiving hardware (be it your smart TV, phone, etc.), transcoding is required. This is where the processor matters most, and you need a perfect one to keep up with 4K. You could always go it alone and build your own FreeNAS Plex Media Server.

What is Plex?

Plex is an online media streaming service, much like Netflix or Amazon Prime. You can access free and premium content like other on-demand platforms, but Plex has a killer feature set if you own media outright. Plex Media Server (or PMS for short) is a piece of software that can be run on your PC to host music, movies, TV shows, photos, and more from your media library.

One window into all your personal media. No matter where you are.

Devices can then connect to this server and stream content from anywhere. Where you can take this experience to the next level is by adding a network-attached storage (NAS) enclosure. It's not good to run your PC all the time when a server with a far lower power draw can do the same job and then some. This is where our Plex NAS collection comes into play.

By purchasing a NAS, a few hard drives, and installing Plex Media Server, you can quickly create your own home entertainment system. We have a comprehensive Plex beginner's guide available should you wish to learn more about the media platform.

What makes a good NAS enclosure for Plex?

A good NAS enclosure for Plex needs a few things:

CPU

It's simply not viable to run Plex on an enclosure that doesn't have an Intel processor. It's possible, just not recommended. If you want to stream music and photos, even the lesser Intel CPUs will be more than enough in affordable enclosures.

When you get to movie and show streaming and transcoding, that's where the performance really needs to increase to match demand. And that's just for a single receiving device. Consider your home where there could be multiple users on different hardware wanting to access content stored on Plex. This is why the latest Intel Celeron processors are recommended as the bare minimum to get by for 4K.

To be safe, I'd recommend an Intel Core i3 processor or higher. These CPUs have enough performance to handle 4K transcoding and more, allowing multiple users to stream their favorite content. It's best to set up an enclosure with more performance than required, much like the best graphics card. It's better to pay more now than paying even more down the line for an earlier upgrade.

RAM

Media streaming isn't heavy on RAM, but it's a good idea to always have more than you require just in case multiple people plan on streaming content simultaneously. 2GB is considered the baseline for a Plex NAS, while 4GB is usually enough for a busy home, but having upgradable RAM puts you in an excellent position to expand it later.

It's worth checking the maximum capacity for RAM of an enclosure to see whether you can upgrade the RAM.

Drive bays

There need to be enough bays to handle the number of drives required. If you want to store 4K content, you'll want one with at least six bays. Otherwise, you'll find yourself running out of space quickly. Shows and movies in Full HD can get away with being stored on a NAS with four or more bays.

Ports

HDMI is important since that can allow your TV to connect to the NAS directly. This negates the need to transcode anything since the TV will simply be displaying the output from the server itself. If you can, choose a NAS that has an HDMI port if you plan on having the server located near the big screen.

For Ethernet, 1Gb ports are okay, so long as you can link them up and increase bandwidth, though ideally, you'll want to have 2.5Gb or 10Gb ports. This also depends on your network infrastructure. Most routers from internet service providers (ISP) can handle only 1Gb connections, so you may need to upgrade if you plan on increasing bandwidth.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Rich Edmonds is a staff reviewer at Windows Central, which means he tests out more software and hardware than he cares to remember. Joining Mobile Nations in 2010, you can usually find him inside a PC case tinkering around when not at a screen fighting with Grammarly to use British words. Hit him up on Twitter: @RichEdmonds.

☐ ☆ ✇ Windows Central - News, Forums, Reviews, Help for Windows 10 and all things Microsoft.

What comes in each Forza Horizon 5 edition and how to preorder

Par : Zachary Boddy

Forza Horizon 5 has multiple ways to play and numerous editions from which to choose.

One of the most anticipated games of 2021 is undoubtedly Forza Horizon 5, the latest open-world racing game from Playground Games that's nearly guaranteed to become one of the best Xbox racing games you can play. Like previous Forza Horizon games, buying and playing Forza Horizon 5 comes with multiple options for players to choose from, with three different editions and various add-ons, so choosing which one to buy could be slightly daunting. In our Forza Horizon 5 buying guide, we'll cover it all.

Here's everything you need to know about preordering or buying Forza Horizon 5.

What is Forza Horizon 5?

Forza Horizon 5 is the latest entry in the long-running Forza Horizon franchise, which are open-world racing games centered around the fabled Horizon Festival. Playground Games, situated comfortably under the Xbox Game Studios banner, is renowned for delivering vast, detailed, and generally excellent semi-simulation arcade racing games, and Forza Horizon 5 looks to improve upon its predecessor in nearly every way.

Playground seems to have incorporated a ton of community feedback, with Forza Horizon 5 including improvements like the Forza Horizon 5 map, set in Mexico, which is significantly larger and more varied. There's also a more involved and deep singleplayer story, superior and more integrated online features, improved customization, and more. The Forza Horizon 5 car list at launch is the biggest of any game in the franchise, so players will have no shortage of impeccably recreated vehicles from which to choose.

We previewed Forza Horizon 5, even going so far as to take a road trip around Mexico, and discovered that Forza Horizon 5 has everything it needs to be not only one of the best racing games you can play, but also one of the best Xbox games in general.

Forza Horizon 5 releases on Nov. 9, 2021, for Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox One, PC, and Xbox Cloud Gaming. Forza Horizon 5 is even going to be available through Xbox Game Pass starting on day one.

How can I preorder or buy Forza Horizon 5?

When it comes to buying Forza Horizon 5, players are actually met with a decent amount of choice and questions. Do you desire the convenience of digital or the familiarity of physical? Which edition is best for you, and are there bonuses for preordering or buying certain editions?

There's also plenty of DLC to consider with Forza Horizon 5, which may give you rare or exclusive cars, player houses, help with finding Bonus Boards and Barn Finds, and much more.

One thing to keep in mind: Forza Horizon 5 fully supports Xbox Play Anywhere. If you purchase a digital copy of Forza Horizon 5 (any edition) for Xbox or Windows through the Microsoft Store, you'll immediately own the game on both of those platforms. FH5 also supports cloud saves, so your progress won't be lost even if you play on both platforms.

Forza Horizon 5 preorder bonuses

Preordering video games, or purchasing before release day, is commonplace in the video game industry. Forza Horizon 5 is no exception, and lets players put down their money early.

  • Physical copies get delivered earlier. If you prefer physical media for your games, preordering gives you better chances of actually obtaining Forza Horizon 5 on release day, rather than waiting for delivery a few days afterward. There are no guarantees, but most retailers will prioritize preordered game deliveries.
  • Preinstall or predownload. Preordering Forza Horizon 5 digitally lets you preinstall the game. This means the game will be all ready to go on release date, saving you valuable time. Even players using Xbox Game Pass to play Forza Horizon 5 will be able to preinstall the game.
  • Early access with Premium Edition. If you preorder Forza Horizon 5 Premium Edition you'll be able to play Forza Horizon 5 four days earlier than everyone else. While FH5 releases on Nov. 9, Forza Horizon 5 Premium Edition preorders will unlock on Nov. 5, 2021.
  • No preorder cars. Some past Forza Horizon games granted players exclusive and powerful pre-tuned cars for preordering from specific retailers. While these were great collectibles, it also meant lots of players were left out by their region, time constraints, or an understandable unwillingness to preorder the games multiple times. With Forza Horizon 5, Playground Games is getting rid of preorder cars entirely.
  • No other exclusive preorder DLC. All the DLC included in Forza Horizon 5 editions should be available for purchase separately, either through bundles (like the Premium Add-Ons Bundle) or by themselves.

Forza Horizon 5 Standard Edition

Forza Horizon 5 editions have to start somewhere, which brings us to the Standard Edition. This is the base version of the game, and doesn't include any other DLC content or expansions. Beyond the base game (which is the one included on Xbox Game Pass), you also get:

  • Can be preinstalled. You can preinstall Forza Horizon 5 Standard Edition on Xbox and PC.
  • No additional DLC included. As this is just the base game of Forza Horizon 5, there are no other DLC or expansions included.

Forza Horizon 5 Standard Edition (Preorder)

$60 at Microsoft (Xbox & PC) $60 at Best Buy (Xbox & PC) $60 at Newegg (Xbox & PC) $60 at Steam (PC)

Forza Horizon 5 Standard Edition gives players access to hundreds of cars and a gorgeous rendition of Mexico, but doesn't include extra DLC content or expansions. This is the version that's included in Xbox Game Pass, and is also available physically.

Forza Horizon 5 Deluxe Edition

Forza Horizon 5 Deluxe Edition is the middle child in the FH5 family, and as such includes the base game and exactly one other piece of DLC to justify the added cost. This is the edition for the car collectors.

  • Can be preinstalled. You can preinstall Forza Horizon 5 Deluxe Edition on Xbox and PC.
  • Includes Forza Horizon 5 Car Pass. Forza Horizon 5 Deluxe Edition includes the Forza Horizon 5 Car Pass, a DLC that adds an additional 42 cars to the game.
    • Eight additional cars will be available in Forza Horizon 5 at launch with the Formula Drift Cars Pack
    • One car will be added to Forza Horizon 5 every week, for a total of 34 additional cars
    • The Forza Horizon 5 Car Pass is available through Forza Horizon 5 Deluxe Edition, Premium Edition, and the Premium Edition Add-Ons Bundle

Forza Horizon 5 Deluxe Edition (Preorder)

$80 at Microsoft (Xbox & PC) $80 at Best Buy (Xbox & PC) $80 at Newegg (Xbox & PC) $80 at Steam (PC)

Forza Horizon 5 Deluxe Edition includes the base game and an additional 42 cars with the Forza Horizon 5 Car Pass. Eight Formula Drift Cars will be available at launch, with an additional car added every week afterward for 34 weeks.

Forza Horizon 5 Premium Edition

The quintessential edition for Forza Horizon fans and lovers, Forza Horizon 5 Premium Edition ramps up the cost again but includes a compelling number of DLC additions and perks over previous editions.

  • Can be preinstalled. You can preinstall Forza Horizon 5 Premium Edition on Xbox and PC.
  • Includes early access. Preordering Forza Horizon 5 Premium Edition nets you four days of early access, letting you play Forza Horizon 5 on Nov. 5, 2021, instead of Nov. 9.
    • Early access is also included in the Forza Horizon 5 Premium Add-Ons Bundle
  • Includes Forza Horizon 5 Car Pass. Forza Horizon 5 Premium Edition includes the Forza Horizon 5 Car Pass, a DLC that adds an additional 42 cars to the game.
    • Eight additional cars will be available in Forza Horizon 5 at launch with the Formula Drift Cars Pack
    • One car will be added to Forza Horizon 5 every week, for a total of 34 additional cars
    • The Forza Horizon 5 Car Pass is available through Forza Horizon 5 Deluxe Edition, Premium Edition, and the Premium Add-Ons Bundle
  • Includes Forza Horizon 5 Welcome Pack. Forza Horizon 5 Premium Edition includes the Forza Horizon 5 Welcome Pack, a DLC that adds several in-game perks and bonuses when first playing the game.
    • Five specially pre-tuned cars gifted at launch
    • One Player House gifted at launch
    • An included one-time voucher that lets you purchase any car from the Autoshow
    • Three included one-time vouchers that let you purchase any Common or Rare clothing items
    • The Forza Horizon 5 Welcome Pack is available through Forza Horizon 5 Premium Edition, the Premium Add-Ons Bundle, and as a standalone purchase
  • Includes Forza Horizon 5 VIP Membership. Forza Horizon 5 Premium Edition includes this membership, a DLC that adds several in-game perks and bonuses throughout playing the game.
    • Three exclusive Forza Edition cars gifted at launch
    • One Player House gifted at launch
    • A Crown Flair, Vanity Items, Emote, and Car Horn gifted at launch
    • Races provide double the Credit rewards
    • Players gain extra Super Wheelspins every week
    • Additional bonuses and perks
    • The Forza Horizon 5 VIP Membership is available through Forza Horizon 5 Premium Edition, the Premium Add-Ons Bundle, and as a standalone purchase
  • Includes Forza Horizon 5 Expansion One. Forza Horizon 5 Premium Edition includes Forza Horizon 5 Expansion One, which is one of two unannounced DLC expansions coming to Forza Horizon 5 in the future.
    • Forza Horizon 5 Expansion One has not been revealed yet, but will be included in Forza Horizon 5 Premium Edition when it does eventually launch
    • Forza Horizon 5 Expansion One is available through Forza Horizon 5 Premium Edition, the Premium Add-Ons Bundle, and the Expansions Bundle
  • Includes Forza Horizon 5 Expansion Two. Forza Horizon 5 Premium Edition includes Forza Horizon 5 Expansion Two, which is one of two unannounced DLC expansions coming to Forza Horizon 5 in the future.
    • Forza Horizon 5 Expansion Two has not been revealed yet, but will be included in Forza Horizon 5 Premium Edition when it does eventually launch
    • Forza Horizon 5 Expansion Two is available through Forza Horizon 5 Premium Edition, the Premium Add-Ons Bundle, and the Expansions Bundle

Forza Horizon 5 Premium Edition (Preorder)

$100 at Microsoft (Xbox & PC) $100 at Best Buy (Xbox & PC) $100 at Newegg (Xbox & PC) $100 at Steam (PC)

Forza Horizon 5 Premium Edition includes the base game, the Forza Horizon 5 Car Pass, Welcome Pack, VIP Membership, Expansion One, and Expansion Two DLCs, and four days of early access. The ultimate edition for Forza Horizon fans.

Forza Horizon 5 DLC & add-ons

Forza Horizon 5 features a ton of optional DLC content that players can opt for if they want the full experience. Most of this DLC is included in some form or another with Forza Horizon 5 editions, but a lot of the DLC is also available to purchase separately, for those who wish to personalize their FH5 experience.

Forza Horizon 5 Premium Add-Ons Bundle

The best way to get Forza Horizon 5 and all of its DLC is undoubtedly through Forza Horizon 5 Premium Edition, but players going through Xbox Game Pass, buying a physical copy of FH5, or planning to upgrade after release should consider the Forza Horizon 5 Premium Add-Ons Bundle. You get everything offered in the Premium Edition, minus the base game.

Forza Horizon 5 Premium Add-Ons Bundle (Preorder)

$50 at Microsoft (Xbox & PC)

The Forza Horizon 5 Premium Add-Ons Bundle includes all of the benefits and content included in Forza Horizon 5 Premium Edition, and is perfect for players who bought a physical copy of the game or are playing through Xbox Game Pass.

Forza Horizon 5 Expansions Bundle

The Forza Horizon 5 Expansions Bundle is for those who Forza Horizon 5 and all of its expansions, but have no need for the extra tidbits that come attached to the Premium Edition. This DLC includes two Forza Horizon 5 game expansions, each of which will add tons of new content and cars, when they become available.

Forza Horizon 5 Expansions Bundle (Preorder)

$35 at Microsoft (Xbox & PC)

The Forza Horizon 5 Expansions Bundle is exactly what you'd expect. This DLC package includes two FH5 expansions, which will become available to the player as soon as they launch.

Forza Horizon 5 Treasure Map

The Forza Horizon 5 Treasure Map is one of the more interesting DLC in this list, if only because it's not included in any other bundles or editions. This standalone DLC is very straightforward: Pay a small sum to see the locations of every bonus board and Barn Find on the FH5 map.

Forza Horizon 5 Treasure Map (Preorder)

$3 at Microsoft (Xbox & PC)

The Forza Horizon 5 Treasure Map is the perfect DLC for anyone who's not patient enough to scour the entire map for every bonus board or Barn Find.

Forza Horizon 5 VIP Membership

The Forza Horizon 5 VIP Membership is for those who desire every advantage when playing, as it provides a whole host of exclusive perks and bonuses in FH5, including extra reward credits, Wheelspins, unique cars, cosmetic items, and more.

Forza Horizon 5 VIP Membership (Preorder)

$20 at Microsoft (Xbox & PC)

A bundle of useful and long-lasting perks for any hardcore Forza Horizon 5 fan, including three exclusive Forza Edition cars.

Forza Horizon 5 Welcome Pack

While not as long-lasting as the VIP Membership DLC, the Forza Horizon 5 Welcome Pack is a cost-effective way for new or returning players to get a boost at the beginning of the game. This DLC includes five pre-tuned cars, vouchers for cars and cosmetic items, and more.

Forza Horizon 5 Welcome Pack (Preorder)

$5 at Microsoft (Xbox & PC)

The Forza Horizon 5 Welcome Pack DLC is an affordable way to get a significant boost right off the bat with pre-tuned cars, vouchers, and more.

Forza Horizon 5 physical edition

Digital games have effectively taken over the video game industry, but there remains a large number of players that still prefer physical copies of all their games. Forza Horizon 5 is absolutely available as a physical disc, but players will be more limited in their options.

Here's what you need to know about Forza Horizon 5's physical edition.

  • Forza Horizon 5 Standard Edition only. If you want to buy Forza Horizon 5 as a physical disc, you'll be limited to Forza Horizon 5 Standard Edition, which only offers the base game.
  • Can be preordered. You can preorder Forza Horizon 5's physical edition from multiple retailers, increasing your chances of getting the game delivered on or before launch day.
  • Can be upgraded. If you want the additional DLC and content included in Forza Horizon 5 Premium Edition, you are able to purchase the Forza Horizon 5 Premium Add-Ons Bundle and pair it with your physical copy of Forza Horizon 5.
  • Xbox Series X and Xbox One compatible. Physical editions of Forza Horizon 5 still support Smart Delivery, and are compatible with Xbox Series X and Xbox One consoles. Xbox Series S and Xbox One S All-Digital are not supported since they don't have disc drives.
  • No PC support. At the moment, there is no option to purchase a physical copy of Forza Horizon 5 for PC.

Forza Horizon 5 (Physical preorder)

$60 at Amazon (Xbox) $60 at Best Buy (Xbox) $60 at GameStop (Xbox) $60 at Target (Xbox)

Forza Horizon 5 does have a physical edition, but it's only the Standard Edition of the game. If you want a physical copy of Forza Horizon 5, consider purchasing the Forza Horizon 5 Premium Add-Ons Bundle to go with it.

What are the accessories and hardware for Forza Horizon 5?

It's obvious that Forza Horizon 5 has a mind-boggling amount of DLC and additional content available already, even before launch, but FH5 is also delivering when it comes to hardware and accessories. As Playground Games and Xbox Game Studios announce new partnerships or developments, you'll find them here.

Forza Horizon 5 Limited Edition Xbox Wireless Controller

The Forza Horizon 5 Limited Edition Xbox Wireless Controller may be a mouthful, but it's an incredible-looking piece of hardware that captures the best of both worlds: high-speed action in Forza Horizon 5 and the high-tech comfort of the Xbox Wireless Controller. This is the new design for Xbox Series X|S, including the new Share button. This Limited Edition controller features design elements like a semi-translucent yellow body and custom racing-like grips.

On top of that, this controller actually features exclusive in-game DLC for Forza Horizon 5, including:

  • 1932 Ford De Luxe Five-Window Coupe Forza Edition with custom FH5-themed livery
  • Cosmetic character item
  • Cosmetic character emote

The Forza Horizon 5 Limited Edition Xbox Wireless Controller is now available for preorder, and should arrive just in time to use it to play the game. However, you might want to act fast, as this controller is likely to be in high demand.

Forza Horizon 5 LE Xbox Wireless Controller (Preorder)

$75 at Microsoft $75 at Best Buy $75 at Target

This limited edition controller is totally gorgeous and grants exclusive in-game DLC, making it the perfect purchase for any hardcore Forza Horizon 5 fan.

Is there a demo for Forza Horizon 5?

Previous Forza Horizon games have historically featured a demo that lets players experience a slice of the full game before purchasing, often with in-game rewards for doing so. However, it was confirmed during Forza Horizon 5 Let's Go! Episode 7 that Forza Horizon 5 will not feature a demo before launch.

Playground Games' reasoning is that the constant influx of new information and gameplay for Forza Horizon 5 ahead of launch negates this need, as well as the fact that FH5 will be available through Xbox Game Pass for day one on Xbox, PC, and the cloud. While this will inevitably disappoint players who were looking forward to playing a little bit of Forza Horizon 5 before the full release (or players who were still on the fence about purchasing), it just didn't make sense for Playground to divert resources to building a demo this time around.

The Festival returns

Forza Horizon 5 (Preorder)

$60 at Microsoft (Xbox & PC) $60 at Amazon (Xbox physical) $60 at Steam (PC)

An epic adventure

Forza Horizon 5 is the latest project from Playground Games and continues the epic Forza Horizon adventure with a new roster of amazing cars and a brand-new location to explore: Mexico. Forza Horizon 5 launches on Xbox and PC later this year, and it's already available to preorder.

Vrooms included

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate

From $1/month at Microsoft $45 at Amazon (3-month subscription) $15 at Amazon (1-month subscription)

All your gaming needs, in one subscription

Is the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate the best value in all of gaming? It's possible. Ultimate bundles your Xbox Live Gold subscription, an Xbox Game Pass subscription for both Xbox consoles and Windows PCs, and Xbox Cloud Gaming for on-the-go. Forza Horizon 5 will be available through Xbox Game Pass day one, including on consoles, PC, and the cloud.

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Here's when you can start playing Age of Empires 4

Par : Samuel Tolbert

Here's when you can choose your civilization and begin gathering resources.

At long last, Age of Empires 4 is on the way, soon to be in the hands of eager real-time strategy (RTS) fans everywhere. This game was developed by World's Edge and Relic Entertainment as a modern take on everything players loved about past games, especially Age of Empires 2. Depending on how the launch goes, it could even end up being one of the best PC games available.

Our interview with the developers of Age of Empires 4 revealed that the team is focused on history, wanting to make sure players understand the weight behind every faction, with plenty of in-game resources to aid in learning about who these famous heroes and tyrants were.

Age of Empires 4: Release date

Age of Empires 4 is scheduled to launch on Oct. 28, 2021. The game is coming exclusively to PC right now, though players can choose to go through Steam or Xbox Game Pass for PC in order to play it.

Age of Empires 4: Launch times

Age of Empires 4, like many games, has a single launch time around the world, as confirmed by the official Age of Empires Twitter account. Naturally, this means the exact time the game is available will depend on your region. We've rounded up what this looks like in major timezones across the world.

Region/time zone Time
Seattle (PT) 8:00 a.m, Oct. 28
Mexico City (CDT) 10:00 a.m, Oct. 28
New York (ET) 11:00 a.m, Oct. 28
São Paulo (BRT) 12:00 p.m, Oct. 28
London (BST) 4:00 p.m, Oct. 28
Berlin (CEST) 5:00 p.m, Oct. 28
Moscow (MSK) 6:00 p.m, Oct. 28
Mumbai (IST) 8:00 p.m, Oct. 28
Beijing (CST) 11:00 p.m, Oct. 28
Tokyo (JST) 12:00 a.m, Oct. 29
Sydney (AEDT) 2:00 a.m, Oct. 29
Auckland (NZDT) 4:00 a.m, Oct. 29

Age of Empires 4: Preload and download size

Age of Empires 4 requires 50 GB of free space on your computer, in line with the size of many modern games. Naturally, this will probably grow over time as the game evolves and more updates, DLC, and expansions are added in the coming months and years.

Age of Empires 4 does not appear to support preloading, at least right now. It's possible this could change closer to launch but for now, it doesn't appear to be possible for players to preload the game, which is especially unfortunate if you have a slower internet connection.

Before you buy the game, you'll naturally want to check the Age of Empires 4 PC requirements to make sure your system can handle it. With that said, Age of Empires 4 was developed to scale on a wide range of hardware, meaning most players probably don't have anything to worry about.

Epic historical battles

Age of Empires 4

A new era of warfare

Age of Empires 4 is a continuation of the legendary RTS series with a focus on historical accuracy, asymmetrical warfare, and deep strategy. Learn about history, then lead your faction to victory.

$60 at Microsoft

$54 at GMG

$60 at Steam

Just subscribe

Xbox Game Pass for PC

$25 at Amazon From $1/month at Microsoft

Expand your PC gaming library

Xbox Game Pass for PC is tailored specifically for PC users, giving a unique lineup of Game Pass games that has lot of crossover with the console list but with more PC-only games.

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