Halo Infinite E3 2021: What we're hoping to see

All eyes are on Microsoft and 343 Industries this E3. Here’s what we want to see from them.

Without a doubt, all eyes are on Microsoft and 343 Industries to showcase Halo Infinite during the Xbox E3 2021 event on June 13. Although 343 Industries has provided lengthy technical updates, images of new weapons, and detailed screenshots of graphical updates made to the game in recent months, fans still haven’t seen the game in motion since its controversial E3 2020 gameplay reveal.

Since the game was delayed to Fall 2021 and is one of the biggest first-party exclusives launching in the Xbox ecosystem any time soon, it’s crucial that Microsoft and 343 Industries showcase how special Halo Infinite will be during E3 2021. Here are five things that we want to see the most from the game at the show.

Halo Infinite graphics improvements and ray tracing

Above all else, it’s important that Halo Infinite knocks it out of the park in the presentation department this E3. While the Xbox Series X is the most advanced console available, few titles have actually showcased that hardware. As Microsoft’s largest 2021 first-party exclusive for Xbox, Halo Infinite should be the game that shows the world what the console is truly capable of.

Another reason why we want to see Halo Infinite have a strong showing in terms of visuals is that its official gameplay reveal from E3 2020 left a lot to be desired in this department. The game’s lighting was noticeably flat in the demo, and quite a few objects in the environment suffered from pop-in issues as well. 343 Industries has shown off improvements made to the game in its monthly Inside Infinite articles, but screenshots are one thing and gameplay is another. It’s important for Microsoft and 343 Industries to restore fan faith in Halo Infinite’s visual presentation.

It would also be fantastic to see the game being played with ray tracing enabled. Ray tracing support is one of the defining features of the Xbox Series X and S consoles, and Halo Infinite was originally going to get a ray tracing patch post-launch before it was delayed. Therefore, we hope to see it in action this E3, and we also hope that Microsoft announces that the feature will be present when the game releases in Fall 2021.

Halo Infinite open-world gameplay

Secondly, we want to see more of Halo Infinite’s open world-style campaign gameplay. The original gameplay reveal showed the player taking a few seconds to figure out where to go on their map, but that’s about it — the rest of the presentation looked more or less like a normal Halo level. This time around, we’d like to see more of Halo Infinite’s open-world systems at work.

343 Industries should show what separates Halo Infinite from its predecessors.

We know that Halo Infinite will feature changing times of day, optional side objectives in the world space, dynamic enemy patrols, and plenty of opportunities for players to use their equipment creatively in a non-linear environment. While these systems sound cool, fans should get to see them in action at E3 so that they can get an idea of what to expect from Halo Infinite’s non-linear campaign gameplay. 343 Industries can (and should) still keep some things under wraps for the game’s launch, but since very little gameplay has been shown off so far, we think the developer should show more of what separates Halo Infinite from its predecessors.

Halo Infinite multiplayer modes and gameplay

We also want to see a focus on Halo Infinite’s multiplayer, with specific attention paid to both its modes and its gameplay. Halo 5: Guardians received a lot of criticism from Halo’s fanbase due to its lack of multiplayer modes at launch and its emphasis on “advanced mobility” gameplay that made its weapon and vehicle sandbox less influential overall. This E3, 343 Industries needs to show that Halo Infinite will have plenty of modes at release just like the older Halo games did, and also that the design of the multiplayer stays true to the series’ sandbox-focused identity.

If the multiplayer ticks these two boxes, there’s a big chance that it will become a global hit. This is because it has been confirmed that Halo Infinite’s multiplayer will support 120 FPS and will be free-to-play. Games like Fortnite, Valorant, and Apex Legends have proven how successful the free-to-play model can be in recent years, and support for 120 FPS means that Halo Infinite will lend itself well to competitive gameplay and esports tournaments.

Halo Infinite progression system and customization

It would also be great to see Halo Infinite’s progression and player customization systems at E3. Though 343 Industries has explained how the game’s “coatings” work on a basic level and some of Halo Infinite’s armor coatings as well as weapon coatings and charms have been revealed, there’s still a lot we don’t know about how we can actually earn earn these rewards. Will players be able to earn XP by completing matches and challenges like they can in Halo: The Master Chief Collection (MCC) to unlock new armor pieces and coatings? Or will 343 Industries use a different kind of system entirely?

We want to see more of how Halo Infinite will allow players to express themselves.

Additionally, we also want to see a more in-depth exploration of the customization systems that players will be able to use to express themselves in-game. Can we change the coatings of individual armor pieces? Do coatings come with any sub-options for people who want to fine-tune their look? We know there are weapon charms, but will there be charms or decorations for armor and vehicles too? These are the types of questions that we want to see answered.

Halo Infinite Forge mode and its new features

The Halo Infinite gameplay demo remade in Halo 5’s Forge mode by talented Forger Alexander Henry.

Finally, we’d love to have a look at Halo Infinite’s Forge mode during E3. Since its debut in Halo 3, the Forge level editor has become a staple of the series and has been significantly improved upon with each new release. The latest version of Forge in Halo 5 features tons of different objects to use, basic terrain editing, the ability to change the weather and skybox of the map, and even scripting functionality. Fans have taken advantage of this to great effect, creating intricately detailed custom maps for several Halo game modes, both official and custom. Some fans have even used the creative potential of Forge abstractly to complete cool projects such as a recreation of Halo Infinite’s gameplay demo and in-game replicas of current and last-gen Xbox consoles.

With Halo Infinite, we’re hoping that 343 Industries has further advancements in store for Forge mode. Namely, we want to see advanced terrain editing, the ability to spawn AI enemies on timers for custom Firefight maps, and more options for scripting. These types of features would help the community create fun custom maps for many years to come.

Your thoughts

What do you want to see from Halo Infinite during the Xbox E3 2021 show? Let us know. Halo Infinite is expected to launch in Fall 2021 (potentially in late November according to a voice actor’s account) on the Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox One consoles, and Windows 10 PCs. The full price for the campaign is $60, according to a preorder available from Best Buy.

We highly recommend checking out the MCC while you wait for Infinite to arrive, as it bundles all of the pre-Xbox One Halo shooters together for a great price. The amount of value in the MCC is incredible, and it makes it one of the best Xbox One shooters available.

The next adventure in the saga

Halo Infinite

$60 at Best Buy
See at Microsoft
See at Steam

A new Great Journey awaits

Halo Infinite is sure to be an incredible game filled with wonder, adventure, and more. We just can’t be sure when we’ll be seeing it all.

Finish the Fight

Halo: The Master Chief Collection

$40 at Microsoft (Xbox One)
$40 at Microsoft (PC)
$40 at Steam

Experience the entirety of Halo history

The Master Chief Collection is a collection of every Halo shooter from the pre-Xbox One era, offering incredible value at an incredible price.

Halo Infinite E3 2021: What we're hoping to see

Review: The Swift 3X is Acer's first PC with Intel Iris Xe Max discrete GPU

The Swift 3X is Acer’s first laptop to feature Intel’s Iris Xe Max dedicated GPU, helping push performance beyond many Ultrabooks in the same category.

The Swift 3X is a new addition to Acer’s long-running Swift lineup, a collection of laptops that focus on being ultraportable without sacrificing performance. The Swift 3X adds Intel’s Iris Xe Max discrete GPU, which boosts performance alongside 11th Gen Intel Core i7 processor (CPU) for anyone who needs to focus on more intensive work like photo or video editing. I’ve been using the Swift 3X for about a week to see what it’s all about and, ultimately, whether or not it’s worth your money.

Packing Iris Xe Max graphics

Acer Swift 3X (SF314-510G)

Bottom line: Acer’s Swift 3X brings stellar performance thanks to 11th Gen Intel Core CPUs and Iris Xe Max discrete GPU. You can expect a full workday of battery life, and the FHD screen has good color and a matte finish to reduce glare. Just a few things — including touchpad, bloatware, and fan noise — keep it from being great.

Pros

Colorful display with matte finish
High-end performance with discrete GPU
Aluminum construction
Decent port selection
All-day battery life

Cons

Touchpad woes
Lots of bloatware
Top exhaust causes fan noise
Can’t upgrade RAM

$1,200 at Amazon

$800 at Costco

Jump to:

Price, availability, specs
Design and features
Display
Performance and battery
Competition
Should you buy?

Acer Swift 3X: Price, availability, and specs

Acer supplied Windows Central with a review unit of the Swift 3X (SF314-510G). It’s equipped with an 11th Gen Intel Core i7-1165G7 CPU, Intel Iris Xe Max (4GB) discrete graphics, 16GB of LPDDR4x RAM, 1TB M.2 PCIe NVMe solid-state drive (SSD), and a 14-inch FHD display. This exact model costs about $1,200 at Amazon.

If you’d rather go with a Core i5-1135G7 CPU, Iris Xe MAX graphics, 8GB of LPDDR4x RAM, 512GB SSD, and 14-inch FHD display, you can find this model at Costco for about $800. RAM is soldered in all models, so be sure to choose at checkout exactly how much you might need. On the other hand, there are two M.2 slots available for SSD upgrades after purchase. Following are the exact specs found in the review unit Acer sent out for review.

Category
Spec

OS
Windows 10 Home

Processor
11th Gen IntelCore i7-1165G74 cores, 8 threadsUp to 4.7GHz

RAM
16GB LPDDR4xSoldered

Graphics
Intel Iris Xe Max4GB LPDDR4x

Storage
1TB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSDUpgradeableTwo M.2 slots

Display
14 inches1920x1080 (FHD)IPS, 300 nits16:9 aspect ratio

Ports
Thunderbolt 4Two USB-A 3.2 (Gen 1)HDMI 2.03.5mm audio

Audio
Dual stereo speakersAcer TrueHarmonyDTS Audio

Connectivity
Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX201MU-MIMO (2×2)Bluetooth 5.1

Camera
Front-facing 720p

Keyboard
Backlight

Touchpad
Precision

Security
Fingerprint readerKensington lock slot

Battery
58.7Wh

Dimensions
12.71 x 8.35 x 0.71 inches(322.8mm x 212.2mm x 17.95mm)

Weight
3.02 pounds (1.37kg)

Chassis
Steam BlueAluminum bodyPlastic display surround

Aluminum body

Acer Swift 3X: Design and features

Camera, speakers, and fingerprint reader are all quality additions to the Acer Swift 3X.

The Swift 3X is built inside an aluminum chassis available in a couple of colors (Steam Blue here). It’s aluminum throughout, save for the plastic display surround that holds the matte screen in place. Overall, the laptop seems well built except for a portion of the bottom bezel that is pulling away from the lid. Either the glue didn’t hold or it wasn’t installed properly. Otherwise, the chassis is rigid, it’s relatively lightweight at 3.02 pounds (1.37kg), and despite having a discrete GPU inside it’s also relatively thin at 0.71 inches (17.95mm). The 14-inch form factor is a nice middle ground for anyone who feels 13 inches is just a bit too cramped and 15 inches is just a bit too bulky.

Acer has used an ergonomic hinge design on the Swift 3X. When the lid opens, a rounded exterior props up the back of the laptop to provide a more comfortable typing angle. It’s a neat addition that can help with wrist pain, but it also means the internal fan’s exhaust sits visible between the keyboard and the display. You have hot air blowing onto your screen at all times, and it no doubt also makes the fan sound louder than it should. It’s a bit unsightly.

The left side of the laptop includes the majority of ports: Thunderbolt 4, USB-A 3.2 (Gen 1), HDMI 2.0, and the proprietary Acer charging port. The right side includes another USB-A 3.2 (Gen 1), 3.5mm audio jack, and a Kensington lock slot. It would be nice to see Acer make the switch to USB-C charging on their laptops, which would give users an extra port when the laptop is finished charging. The lone Thunderbolt 4 port can always be connected to one of the best Thunderbolt 4 hubs and docking stations if you need extra connectivity, especially an SD or microSD card reader. Lack of expandable storage is the most noticeable omission here.

The keyboard is the standard Acer fare with small chiclet keys and tiny print. There’s an OK amount of travel and I can type quickly, but there’s just a bit of a mushy feel that I don’t enjoy. You might love the keyboard’s feel; if possible, test it out yourself before buying. I do appreciate the dedicated keys for Pg Up and Pg Dn, but Insert, End, and Home are all doubled up and accessible by the Fn key. It’s not a huge deal if you’re not often using the laptop for word processing. A two-stage backlight (on and off) is included to help with working after hours.

The Precision touchpad is a decent size compared to the rest of the body. It’s smooth and it tracks well. However, the click is far too resistant, requiring quite a bit of force to depress. It’s something you’ll likely eventually get used to, but clicking a few hundred times a day isn’t fun. I resorted to connecting a Logitech MX Ergo for a much better pointing experience.

The laptop’s front-facing 720p camera is excellent. It offers good color, proper saturation, and it doesn’t blow out the exposure when confronted with a bright window. It should fare well if you plan on using the laptop for video conferencing. The two down-firing stereo speakers are about average for this type of laptop. Sound is clear and gets loud without distorting. You won’t want to entertain friends with music, but you’ll be able to hear clearly in a voice or video call.

There’s no webcam shutter or IR camera available for Windows Hello, but there is a fingerprint reader built into the right palmrest. It works flawlessly in testing, providing quick and easy Windows logins each time. Rounding out the features is Wi-Fi 6 for speedy wireless internet, as well as Bluetooth 5.1 for connecting wireless accessories.

Nice color and contrast

Acer Swift 3X: Display

This year’s Acer Aspire 5 (A515-56) and Acer TravelMate Spin P4 have woeful displays, but thankfully the Swift 3X has gone a separate route. Color and contrast look good at first glance, and there’s almost no glare at all thanks to a matte finish.

Testing with a SpyderX Pro colorimeter, I got back 99% sRGB, 75% AdobeRGB, and 77% DCI-P3 color reproduction, all solid numbers. If you’re focusing heavily on professional editing or design you might want to go with a display with better AdobeRGB or DCI-P3 results, but otherwise this screen should serve you well. I also measured 330 nits at maximum brightness; with the matte finish this is very close to being able to work outdoors if not in direct sunlight.

The plastic bezel is thin enough for a modern appeal; overall you get an 84% screen-to-body ratio. Most importantly, there’s not an enormous chin below the display.

Iris Xe Max GPU

Acer Swift 3x: Performance and battery

The Swift 3X is Acer’s first laptop to feature Intel’s Iris Xe Max. What’s so great about this discrete GPU? Because both the CPU and GPU are from Intel, they can take advantage of Intel’s Deep Link technology. It provides dynamic power sharing to ensure the CPU and GPU are receiving the proper amount of power, and it provides Additive AI to assist with AI-based tasks like rendering and encoding. If you’re using the laptop for editing or design work, this should be a huge boon.

On the flip side, you’re going to see Xe Max graphics be able to handle 1080p gaming quite well, at least compared to other discrete laptop GPUs like NVIDIA’s MX series. I don’t suggest buying this laptop as a dedicated gaming machine; consider it instead as a bonus for times when you need a bit of leisure. Check out our roundup of the best gaming laptops if that’s where you’re leaning.

The 11th Gen Intel Core i7-1165G7 puts up good numbers in our benchmark testing, as does the discrete GPU. And in general usage, I had no problems with word processing, heavy web browsing, Photoshop, and some light gaming through Xbox Game Pass for PC. You can see below how the Swift 3x compares to other PCs we’ve recently tested.

Fan noise when the PC is under load is certainly noticeable, likely made worse by the wide exhaust port that points up towards the screen. The fan is fairly large as well to keep up with the internal hardware’s cooling needs. At least the laptop doesn’t get uncomfortably hot; the aluminum body no doubt helps on that front.

The 58.7Wh battery hit nine hours and eight minutes in PCMark 10’s Modern Office battery rundown test with 75% screen brightness and a “Better Performance” Windows 10 power profile. That’s definitely a good result for a laptop with discrete GPU, but then again something like HP’s ENVY 14 with GTX 1650 Ti Max-Q card lasted more than 11 hours in the same test.

As is common with most Acer laptops, the Swift 3X comes packing a bunch of bloatware. Most manufacturers will add a third-party antivirus and some proprietary support software, but Acer goes all-out with games, VPN services, antivirus, music apps, editing software, and much more. For a laptop this price, that’s unacceptable.

14 inches FTW

Acer Swift 3X: Competition

HP ENVY 14

The HP ENVY 14 is an Ultrabook complete with all-metal chassis, 11th Gen Intel Core i5 or Core i7 CPU, and dedicated NVIDIA GTX 1650 Ti Max-Q GPU that will deliver better performance than Intel’s Iris Xe Max. It offers a better keyboard, better design, and more than 11 hours of battery life. The 14-inch display has a taller 16:10 aspect ratio and similar color reproduction results. A model to match the Swift 3X, with Core i7 CPU, GTX 1650 Ti Max-Q, 16GB of RAM, and 1TB SSD, costs about $1,560. That’s quite a bit more than Acer’s laptop, but it might be the go-to if you need more graphics power and want the taller display.

If you’re not shy about moving up to a 15-inch device, the Lenovo ThinkBook 15p might be right. A model with 11th Gen Intel Core i7-10870H CPU, 16GB of RAM, 512GB SSD, NVIDIA GTX 1650 Ti Max-Q GPU, and 15.6-inch 4K display with HDR 400 goes for about $1,345. That’s not much more than the Swift 3X, and you get a better display, more powerful CPU and GPU, and a tougher all-metal build with MIL-STD 810G certification.

For a 14-inch convertible, check out the Lenovo Yoga 9i 14. It doesn’t have a dedicated GPU, but it does have Intel Evo certification with 11th Gen Intel CPUs, gorgeous aluminum design, more than 10 hours of battery life, built-in active pen for inking, comfy keyboard, big touchpad, and soundbar hinge. It’s an ideal laptop for media consumption; it starts at about $1,000 for a model with Core i7-1185G7 CPU, 8GB of RAM, 512GB SSD, and 14-inch FHD touch display with Dolby Vision.

Be sure to check out our broader collection of the best Windows laptops for more great options.

Mid-range appeal

Should you buy the Acer Swift 3X?

Who it’s for

Those who need extra graphics performance from a discrete GPU
Those who need a quality webcam and decent speakers
Those who need a decent selection of ports, including Thunderbolt 4
Those who want a quality 14-inch FHD display

Who it isn’t for

Those who want the best typing and pointing experience
Those who want a truly premium build quality
Those who hate bloatware
Those who want a convertible PC for tent, stand, and tablet modes

The Swift 3X is a 14-inch laptop that should be a good fit for anyone who’s looking for high performance on a budget. The Intel Iris Xe Max discrete GPU adds a lot of power to the package; combined with a Core i7-1165G7, this laptop isn’t going to struggle with most office tasks, including photo or video editing.

3.5
out of 5

Like many of Acer’s laptops, the good is mixed with the bad. The touchpad is troublesome and you might not like the keyboard, plus there’s a ton of bloatware installed. The fan exhaust is visible and causes unnecessary noise, and the plastic bezel is already coming away from the lid. However, battery life is good at about nine hours, the screen has accurate sRGB color and a matte finish to reduce glare, and you get Thunderbolt 4 alongside an otherwise decent port selection.

If you’re shopping for a laptop within the $800 to $1,200 price range and value performance, definitely keep the Swift 3X in mind.

Packing Iris Xe Max graphics

Acer Swift 3X (SF314-510G)

The Swift 3X brings a colorful FHD display, strong performance from the Iris Xe Max GPU, and decent battery life. Build quality could be better (the bezel is already pulling away from the lid) and the keyboard and touchpad aren’t the best, but this is still a laptop that’s going to fit a lot of budgets quite well.

$1,200 at Amazon

$800 at Costco

Review: The Swift 3X is Acer's first PC with Intel Iris Xe Max discrete GPU

The second pre-release for Minecraft's 'Caves and Cliffs Update' is here

Minor fixes all the way until the official release on June 8.

What you need to know

The ‘Caves and Cliffs Update’ Part One officially launches for Minecraft on June 8, 2021.
Ahead of the official release, Minecraft: Java Edition is finalizing the update with pre-release snapshots.
Minecraft: Java Edition Pre-Release 2 for the ‘Caves and Cliffs Update’ is now available with a handful of bug fixes.
Don’t expect any new features or major changes anymore, as Mojang Studios works on polish and minor improvements.

The Caves and Cliffs Update for Minecraft is right around the corner now, and Mojang Studios is working on the final polish and tweaks with Minecraft: Java Edition Caves and Cliffs Update Pre-Release 2 snapshot rolling out right now to Minecraft testers. As expected so close to the release of the Caves and Cliffs Update Part One, this snapshot only includes a handful of important bug fixes and no new features or additions. Don’t expect any major or exciting developments until work begins in earnest on the Caves and Cliffs Update Part Two (releasing sometime in Winter 2021).

Earlier today, Mojang Studios announced that the Caves and Cliffs Update for Minecraft officially releases on June 8, 2021, which falls in line perfectly with the newly launched Minecraft: Java Edition pre-release snapshot (and the one that came before it). Mojang Studios is making sure everything is as polished as possible all the way up until the first half of the Caves and Cliffs Update is officially here for Windows PCs, macOS, Linux, Xbox, PlayStation, Switch, and mobile devices.

If you’re excited for the upcoming Caves and Cliffs Update for Minecraft, be sure to check out list of the best Minecraft merch, toys, and gifts for the best ways to celebrate.

The full changelog for Minecraft: Java Edition Caves and Cliffs Update Pre-Release 2 includes:

Caves and Cliffs Update preview

Download the new datapack

Bug fixes

Smooth lighting doesn’t work properly underwater
Arrows fired into the side of bamboo or pointed dripstone never despawn
Smooth lighting behaves oddly on blocks covered with tinted glass
Flowering azalea leaves ID is unintuitive
The ExplosionPower of ghast fireballs is uncapped, causing a freeze / crash
Glowing translucent entities often don’t merge their outlines with other glowing entities
Tnt can be pushed with enchanted sword with knockback
Slimes and Magma Cubes not interacting with player
Nether Fossils generate on the nether roof above bedrock in soul sand valleys
Facing away from signs with glowing text makes the text disappear or z-fight
Unknown CPU on Debug menu.
/debug start does not work as described

The second pre-release for Minecraft's 'Caves and Cliffs Update' is here

The 'Caves and Cliffs Update' for Minecraft begins to arrive on June 8

The ‘Caves and Cliffs Update’ is almost here with new mobs and blocks.

What you need to know

Minecraft is working on the massive two-part update known as the ‘Caves and Cliffs Update.’
Today, Mojang Studios officially announced the release date for Part One of the ‘Caves and Cliffs Update’ after months of testing.
Three new mobs and up to 91 new blocks are heading to Minecraft with the ‘Caves and Cliffs Update’ on June 8, 2021.
The ‘Caves and Cliffs Update’ will be available for Minecraft: Bedrock Edition and Minecraft: Java Edition on all current platforms.

Minecraft players have been eagerly following the progress and development of the Caves and Cliffs Update following its initial reveal at Minecraft Live 2020. Ever since the Caves and Cliffs Update was split into two parts and partially delayed, the wait has gotten even more difficult. Now, after months of testing and tweaking through Minecraft: Bedrock Edition betas and Minecraft: Java Edition snapshots, Mojang Studios has finally announced that Part One of the Caves and Cliffs Update officially releases on June 8, 2021.

Part One of the Caves and Cliffs Update isn’t as major on paper as the second part releasing sometime later this winter, but Mojang Studios still has plenty up its sleeves with the first half of what’s arguably the biggest release for Minecraft to date. As a quick recap, Part One of the Caves and Cliffs Update includes three new mobs with the mountain goat, glow squid, and axolotl, and up to 91 new blocks and items for players to find and use.

You can also check out previously released Minecraft YouTube specials on the new mobs and new blocks for a little more information and insight. Don’t forget to refer to our ultimate guide to the Caves and Cliffs Update for Minecraft for all the information you need to know.

Minecraft is releasing the Caves and Cliffs Update Part One on June 8, 2021 for practically every platform, including Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox One, Windows PC, PS5, PS4, Switch, iOS, Android, macOS, and Linux. Minecraft is also available through Xbox Game Pass on consoles if you somehow haven’t experienced everything that Minecraft has to offer yet.

Unfortunately, there’s no news with this release on Minecraft for Xbox Series X|S, so don’t expect any graphical upgrades or ray tracing to make a sudden appearance with the Caves and Cliffs Update Part One. If you’re waiting for this possible next-gen upgrade for Minecraft, we have a dedicated resource for when Minecraft with ray tracing will come to Xbox Series X|S. I also recently discussed why Minecraft on Xbox Series X|S is an unfortunate disappointment because of this.

Part Two of the Caves and Cliffs Update doesn’t yet have an announced release date besides a broad window of Winter 2021, so I wouldn’t expect it any time soon. The second half of the Caves and Cliffs Update for Minecraft is arguably the more significant half, and will include major features like new generation for caves and mountains, a ton of new blocks and systems, and much more. Now that the first half of the Caves and Cliffs Update is almost here, development and testing on the second half should begin in earnest.

Minecraft is one of the biggest games in the world and one of the best games on Xbox, hands down, and now Minecraft is getting the beginning of one of its biggest updates yet with the Caves and Cliffs Update Part One. Celebrate Minecraft and this upcoming release on June 8 with something from our list of best Minecraft merch, toys, and gifts.

A gaming masterpiece

Minecraft

$50 at Microsoft (Xbox One Master Collection)
$30 at Microsoft (Xbox One Starter Collection)
$50 at Microsoft (Windows 10 Master Collection)
$30 at Microsoft (Windows 10 Starter Collection)
$30 at Amazon (Playstation 4 Starter Collection)
$30 at Amazon (Nintendo Switch)

Available everywhere you play.

Minecraft is an inarguable and complete success. It has sold copies in the hundreds of millions, has a huge following of dedicated players, and lets you unlock your every creative desire. It’s also available on every platform imaginable, including Xbox, Windows 10, PlayStation, Nintendo Switch, Android, and iOS. Play with anyone and play anywhere.

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.

The 'Caves and Cliffs Update' for Minecraft begins to arrive on June 8

Intel's latest Core i5-1155G7 and i7-1195G7 are coming; here's what's new

Faster Core i5 and i7 processors for thin-n-light laptops are coming this summer, along with Intel’s first 5G solution for mobile PCs.

What you need to know

Intel has announced two new Core U-series processors for thin and light notebooks.
The chips are 11th Gen ‘Tiger Lake’ based on the 10nm SuperFin process.
The new Core i7 is the first U-series chip to hit 5GHz (turbo single-core).
Intel expects 60+ consumer designs with the two new chips this year.
Intel also debuted its first 5G M.2 solution for laptop makers.

In an unsurprising but still welcomed move, Intel announced the new Core i5-1155G7 and Core i7-1195G7, which clock higher than any other U-series chips so far. Both are 4 cores, 8 threads with 12-28 watts TDP, but the clock speeds are higher to achieve even more performance. The chips are ‘Tiger Lake’ designed based on the 10nm SuperFin process as previous 11th Gen releases.

The i5-1155G7 brings the base frequency down from 2.6GHz to 2.5GHz compared to the i5-1145G7. But the new i5 boosts max single-core turbo to 4.5GHz (instead of 4.4GHz) and all-core turbo to 4.3GHz (instead of 4.0GHz). Likewise, graphics max frequency jumps from 1.3GHz to 1.35GHz, sharing the same clock speed of the Xe graphics of the i7-1185G7.

Intel’s 11th Gen Core U-series processor lineup announced at Computex 2021.

Similarly, the new Core i7-1195G7 has a 2.9GHz base frequency (down from 3GHz in the i7-1185G7). But the new i7 increases all-core turbo to 4.6GHz (up from 4.3GHz) and single-core turbo to that coveted 5.0GHz (up from 4.8GHz). Equally, its Xe GPU hits a new high of 1.4GHz instead of the 1185G7’s 1.35GHz.

Intel is confident its new i7-1195G7 can “eclipse” the AMD Ryzen 7 5800U in benchmarks, whether in gaming or content creation. For instance, in gaming, Intel claims its new i7 delivers a 1.64x increase in performance versus Ryzen 7 in a game like Apex Legends. And in something like Adobe Lightroom (Photo Merge), the i7 has 2.36x the performance versus the identical Ryzen 7.

Intel has also shared info about these claims on its website for further scrutiny.

Besides just performance, these new chips still feature Thunderbolt 4, Wi-Fi6E (Gig+), and Intel Evo certification.

Intel announced more than 85 Intel Evo designs were launched by OEMs, including Acer, ASUS, Dell, HP, Lenovo, MSI, and Samsung. It expects that number to go up to more than 100 by the end of 2021.

As far as momentum and adoption, Intel claims it expects over 60 consumer designs with these new Core U-series processors from its OEM partners by the end of 2021, with Acer, ASUS, Lenovo, and MSI available this summer. And, overall, Intel boasts there will be “nearly” 250 laptop designs with Intel 11th Gen Core (U-series) this holiday season.

Always connected

Intel 5G Solution 5000 M.2 coming this year

Finally, Intel revealed its new 5G Solution 5000 in partnership with MediaTek and Fibocom. The new M.2 solution lets OEM drop in 5G to new laptops with Intel Core U- and H-series processors. The Intel 5G Solution 5000 has worldwide carrier certification and “delivers nearly five-times speed increases over Intel Gigabit LTE.”

The 5G type offered is the more ubiquitous Sub-6GHz standard instead of the more powerful (but range-limited) mmWave provided by Verizon (which also has more complicated antenna requirements).

While there are currently Intel-based 5G laptops like HP’s ZBook Firefly and Elite Dragonfly, those laptops use Qualcomm-based X55 modems to achieve that connectivity. Instead, companies can build laptops that are pure Intel for the processor, graphics, Thunderbolt 4, and connectivity like Wi-Fi6E (Gig+), and now 5G. That competition should also help drive down 5G prices for laptops.

Fibocom will supply the part under FM350-GL, and MediaTek played a role in “product definition, development, certification, and support of 5G modem solutions.”

Like the new Core U-series processors, Acer, ASUS, and HP among the first OEMs expected to implement Intel 5G Solution 5000 in new Core U- and H-series laptops later this year. Over 30 laptop designs with Intel 5G are projected for 2022.

Intel's latest Core i5-1155G7 and i7-1195G7 are coming; here's what's new

Two Point Campus has appeared on the Microsoft Store with leaked images

It looks like Two Point Campus is on the horizon.

What you need to know

A potential follow-up to the critically acclaimed Two Point Hospital management sim has appeared in the Microsoft Store.
Multiple images from several industry insiders have also provided evidence that the unannounced game is real.
Two Point Campus is a university management sim that lets players design and build the ultimate university campus.
Nothing has been confirmed yet, but the game’s appearance on the Microsoft Store is a strong sign that it’s imminent.

Just a few months after the excellent hospital management sim Two Point Hospital released the quintessential Two Point Hospital JUMBO Edition, a new leak has surfaced pointing to the next project from Two Point Studios and SEGA. Two Point Campus has made an appearance on the Microsoft Store for Xbox and PC, and highlights a new direction for the studio’s classic and excellently executed management simulator gameplay.

Alongside the Microsoft Store page, two noted industry insiders have also shared several images of the purported Two Point Campus game, lending further credence to the already-likely possibility that Two Point Campus is real.

Two Point Campus leaked (Two Point Studios) https://t.co/uEHkLYxZyK pic.twitter.com/ZjIc1igwWh— Wario64 (@Wario64) May 31, 2021

According to the Microsoft Store page and the leaked images for Two Point Campus, it looks like a game that combines the charming and polished gameplay and mechanics of Two Point Hospital with the goal of building the perfect university. From the Microsoft Store:

Build the university of your dreams with Two Point Campus, the follow up management sim with a twist from the creators of Two Point Hospital. Get to know your students, explore their personalities and fulfill their wants and needs. Craft buildings, choose courses, hire the best staff and build an academic institution to stand the test of time.

It looks like Two Point Campus will be available for Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox One, and PC. At this time, there is no release date or pricing information, nor any indication that Two Point Campus will join its predecessor Two Point Hospital on Xbox Game Pass.

It should be noted that this isn’t an official announcement of any kind, so you should still take this leak with a tiny pinch of salt to be safe. However, appearances on official storefronts like the addition of Two Point Campus in the Microsoft Store rarely result in a “debunked rumor” and are often reliable sources that a game is real and close to an official announcement. Still, we’ll have to keep our eyes peeled for an official confirmation from Two Point Studios and SEGA that Two Point Campus is happening.

In the meantime, you can enjoy the leaked images below or in the tweets above, or check out the official storelisting in the Microsoft Store (as long as it stays up — pages like this are often taken down until an official announcement). You can also check out our list of best Xbox games for other amazing video games to occupy your time.

University-bound

Two Point Campus

See at Microsoft

The next Two Point game?

Two Point Campus may be the next game from Two Point Studios, the creator of Two Point Hospital, if recent leaks are to be believed. An appearance in the Microsoft Store makes it very likely that, pretty soon, players will be able to design and build their dream university in Two Point Campus.

Two Point Campus has appeared on the Microsoft Store with leaked images

Is the Surface Pro 7 good for gaming?

Best answer: For light, low-intensity gaming, yes, the Pro 7 will be a decent device. For modern photorealistic games, the Surface Pro 7 will not cut it. Project xCloud, however, could change the argument entirely.

A tablet for very light gaming: Surface Pro 7 (From $750 at Microsoft)
For serious portable PC gaming: Razer Blade 15 (From $1,549 at Amazon)

Surface Pro 7 for light, or cloud-based gaming

While we haven’t yet gone hands-on and tested the Pro 7 for ourselves, previous Surface Pro generations and Intel i7 10th-generation benchmarks give us an idea of what to expect. The Surface Pro series is generally held back by its form factor, which makes it very susceptible to heat under load, and thus, thermal throttling. We have no idea how the new Pro 7 will handle thermals, but there’s a scientific limit that contemporary engineering has yet to circumvent in any meaningful way, as of yet.

There are still thousands of less-intensive games you could play.

In any case, the Pro 7 comes with 10th-generation Intel i7 chips, which offer meaningful performance gains over the previous generation. The lower-end Pro 7 has Intel UHD graphics, while the higher end sports Iris Plus. Iris Plus will provide the best graphical performance, but we still expect it to fall short for all but the most-optimized, moderately intensive games. You won’t be playing games like Gears 5 or Forza Horizon 4 on maximum settings, at decent frame rates. For Forza Horizon 4, typical 10th Gen benchmarks suggest it might run at around 20 FPS at maximum, even while making compromises in the resolution and visuals. This device simply isn’t designed for gaming.

However, thanks to the vast legacy and diversity of gaming content on Windows, there are still thousands of less-intensive games you could play. Games from previous generations with lower-end graphics like Half Life 2, F.E.A.R., Bioshock, or DOOM 3 will run pretty well on the Pro 7, and be more than playable. Even some modern games with less-intensive visuals like Fortnite, Overwatch, and Minecraft will perform decently enough on the Pro 7.

Things get interesting when you throw in cloud-based streaming services like PlayStation Now and Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass Cloud Gaming, which allows you to stream modern games over your internet connection. Xbox Game Pass’s cloud gaming platform, also known as Project xCloud, is available now for Android, and is in beta testing for the web for PCs and iOS devices. It should roll out more broadly later in 2021. PlayStation Now is already available for PC, however, and works incredibly well for streaming games at 1080p. Since it’s streaming over your internet connection, it doesn’t need to use anywhere near as much processing power as a game running natively. You could confidently run PlayStation’s God of War at 1080p on even the lowest-end Pro 7 if your internet connection is stable enough, with 5GHz Wi-Fi.

For any serious contemporary PC gaming, you’re going to need something with a dedicated GPU, such as the Razer Blade 15 or above. Still, you’d have to sacrifice the Pro 7’s sleek, highly portable 2-in-1 form factor for the privilege.

For light portable gaming

Microsoft Surface Pro 7

For the classics

From $749 at Microsoft

The Surface Pro 7 might not be powerful enough to run this year’s Call of Duty, but you’ll be able to experience thousands of older, less-graphically intensive games thanks to Windows’ colossal back catalog.

For more serious PC gaming

Razer Blade 15 Gaming Laptop (2019)

From $1,549 at Amazon

Gaming powerhouse

Far more expensive, but the Razer Blade 15 is the best on the market for serious PC gaming on a device you can take with you.

Is the Surface Pro 7 good for gaming?

Overwatch 2's move to 5v5 is good, actually

A cleaner, less frustrating gameplay experience awaits.

In a recent PvP-focused livestream, Blizzard Entertainment developers explained that Overwatch 2 PvP will move to 5v5 due to the power of tank heroes in the game. Powerful tank synergies have often been oppressive and have made Overwatch incredibly difficult to balance, so the developers are cutting one of the tanks out to make everything feel more streamlined. They also said they would rework and buff each of the tank heroes to compensate for the loss of a player.

This is a massive change, and so far, the Overwatch community seems to be pretty split on it. Many think the changes will be beneficial to the health of the gameplay, while others are concerned that the loss of a tank will lead to the damage role being too powerful and an exodus of tank players as a result, harming the balance even more and lengthening queue times for matches. Personally, I think Blizzard has the right idea here. I believe that the shift to 5v5 in Overwatch 2 will fix several of Overwatch’s problems.

Overwatch 2 5v5 will help improve readability

While Overwatch is a great game overall, one of the worst parts about it is how difficult it can often be to understand what’s happening, both as a player and spectator. Each character has a variety of abilities and weapons at their disposal that feature bright and vibrant visual effects. They look awesome and make playing as members of the Overwatch cast feel great, but they also make getting a read on battlefield situations frustrating. Throw in the inevitable voice line spam and sound effects galore, and you’ve got a recipe for sensory overload.

Removing one of the players from each team will instantly help alleviate this issue. Not only will there be fewer abilities to try and keep track of, but individual players will also have more space and time to evaluate how fights are going and make decisions. Blizzard should still try and improve readability by toning down the visuals of some abilities, of course, but trimming the team size will be an excellent start.

Overwatch 2 5v5 will make playing tank less frustrating

Paired with the changes Blizzard is making to tank heroes, I think the move will make playing tanks less frustrating. Even though tank synergies often feel overpowered when executed well, tanks individually feel weak and easy to exploit. Speaking as someone who has mained Reinhardt since Overwatch’s release, it often feels like all it takes is one crowd control stun or one toe out of position to turn you into a giant sitting duck that can get downed in an instant.

With the buffs Blizzard is giving to the tank heroes, players will be allowed to make mistakes and take some hits without being severely punished for it. Tank players will no longer have to rely on each other to survive certain death scenarios. Individual heroes will simply be able to shrug off more damage and crowd control before dying instead, making the gameplay experience more forgiving and less frustrating.

Overwatch 2 5v5 will make learning tank heroes easier

Lastly, the move to 5v5 will make learning how to play tank heroes much easier. As things are right now, Overwatch’s tank heroes are confusingly split into “main tanks” (Reinhardt, Winston, Orisa) and “off tanks” (D.Va, Roadhog, Zarya). Main tanks shield the team consistently during the match and use their abilities to help open enemies up to allied follow up damage, while off tanks use a mixture of offensive and defensive abilities that are short-lived but powerful to help confirm kills, save teammates in a pinch, and take pressure off of the main tank.

This arguably adds some depth to the tank role, but the problem is these roles are community-driven and aren’t explained to new players at all in tutorials or in-game tip notifications. I’ve always thought that tanking in Overwatch would be much easier to learn if each hero was designed to be more like main tanks, and it sounds like that’s what Blizzard is doing based on the PvP livestreams.

The developers confirmed that off tanks like Roadhog who don’t currently do much to protect their teammates are being reworked to better fit a solo main tank-like experience, and that’s for the best. It makes the tank role much easier to understand conceptually and will no doubt encourage more players to give tanking a try. This will make for a healthier overall Overwatch experience since currently, there are vastly more damage and support players in matchmaking most of the time.

Your thoughts

What’s your opinion of the move to 5v5? Do you agree with me that it’s the right call? Let me know. We’re still not sure exactly when Overwatch 2 will release, but the original game is available now on Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox One consoles, PS5, PS4, Nintendo Switch, and Windows 10 PCs. It’s one of the best Xbox One shooters available, so you shouldn’t miss out on the fun.

You’ll be able to play PvP with Overwatch 2 players if you buy the original game, though you won’t have access to the game’s PvE experiences. Make sure to check out our full Overwatch and Overwatch 2 heroes list for helpful tips, tricks, and information if you’re a new player.

The award-winning shooter

Overwatch

$60 at Amazon
$60 at Microsoft

The cavalry’s here!

Overwatch is a competitive team-based shooter set in a futuristic world of cybernetics and robotics. It’s an amazing game, and all of your progress in it will carry over to Overwatch 2. Therefore, there’s no reason not to jump into the action now!

Overwatch 2's move to 5v5 is good, actually

These 6 cheap external drives pair perfectly with Xbox One

The Xbox One’s biggest titles continue to grow in size, making it easier than ever to fill your console’s internal storage. External hard drives are the way to go if you run into this issue, with USB 3.0 support opening the console to a vast assortment of third-party solutions. To help you expand that storage, we rounded up the best external hard drives for Xbox One that won’t break the bank.

Budget drive

Toshiba Canvio Basics 1TB Portable External Hard Drive

Staff pick

Toshiba’s 1TB Canvio Basic drives are simple, compact, and among the cheapest Xbox-compatible drives. Tripling storage of entry-level Xbox One consoles, it’s the perfect budget upgrade to pair with internal storage.

$46 at Amazon
$46 at Best Buy

Expand your library

Seagate Portable 1TB External Hard Drive

While Seagate offers a dedicated line of licensed Xbox One drives, its Portable lineup bears similar internals. Direct from the reputable hard drive manufacturer, get started at a lower price.

$48 at Amazon
$50 at Walmart

Sleek and stylish

WD 1TB My Passport Portable External Hard Drive

Expand your Xbox One storage for cheap with WD’s My Passport range. Starting at 1TB, you’ll get WD’s reliable drive technology, shrouded in one of the various colored plastic shells.

$50 at Amazon
$55 at Best Buy

More for your money

WD 2TB Elements Portable External Hard Drive

Leap to 2TB with this WD Elements drive, delivering a low-cost storage upgrade for a few extra bucks. It’s barebones, cutting surplus software, so it’s ideal for simple plug-and-play with Xbox One.

$63 at Amazon
$73 at Walmart

High capacity, low price

Seagate Portable 4TB External Hard Drive

This 4TB Seagate portable drive is all you need, hitting the highest capacity of its USB-powered drives. Formidable speeds and space for dozens of games make this ideal for any frequent gamer.

$97 at Amazon
$97 at Best Buy

Store all the games

Seagate Expansion Desktop 8TB External Hard Drive

$165 from Best Buy
$145 from Walmart

Whether Game Pass aficionado or digital hoarder, this 8TB external drive provides an insane amount of storage for your Xbox One console. While you’ll be paying more than smaller options, you won’t be limited by your hard drive size again, with room for dozens of games. While there are Xbox-branded alternatives at this capacity, you’re saving by opting for a standard Seagate drive.

Expand your storage

Pairing your Xbox One with an external hard drive increases the number of games you can install simultaneously. This ability is especially crucial when downloads are more significant than ever. And with several reliable yet affordable drives on the market, there’s no better time to upgrade. These also work great with new consoles, among the best USB hard drives for Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S.

The Toshiba Canvio Basics 1TB Portable External Hard Drive sits among our top picks for buyers on a budget, securing a low price and great gaming results. It’s one of the cheapest out there, but still reliable. If you’re getting a reputable name at a low price, with reasonable reliability, you won’t see much difference by choosing the lower-cost models.

However, don’t overlook the benefits of larger alternatives for Xbox One, with the WD 2TB Elements packing double the capacity for less than a $20 premium. You may also want to consider some of the best SSDs for Xbox One, which enable increased memory speeds and reduced loading times.

If you want more information on how to search for and pick an external hard drive for your console, we’ve rounded up everything you’d need to know.

These 6 cheap external drives pair perfectly with Xbox One

Upgrade to Wi-Fi 6 with $30 off TP-Link's Archer AX3000 wireless router

We know all about Wi-Fi 6 at this point, and we know all about the best routers for it. Wi-Fi 6 is absolutely worth the upgrade if you haven’t done it yet, and these days you can get some great value from routers augmented with the tech. TP-Link’s Archer AX3000 Wi-Fi 6 router is down to just $99 at Walmart. That’s $30 off its regular price and a much better price than you’ll find at other retailers like Amazon. At this price it’s only about $30 more than our favorite value pick for best Wi-Fi 6 router, the TP-Link Archer AX1500. A small price to pay for increased coverage and better throughput speeds.

TP-Link is one of the go-to names if you’re looking for a new router and you don’t want to spend a fortune. These are routers we’d call the best “bang for your buck” as it were since they tend to do quite a lot without emptying your wallet. The AX3000 definitely offers a serious upgrade over previous generations if you haven’t upgraded just yet, and it does so at a great price. Wi-Fi 6 was one of the bigger leaps in Wi-Fi. It’s three times faster with four times the capacity and 75% lower latency.

You’ll be able to reach 3 Gbps speeds with 2402 Mbps on the 5GHz band and 574 Mbps on the 2.4 GHz band. Thanks to technology like OFDMA and MU-MIMO, you’ll be able to use all that speed on dozens of devices. Even when you’ve got your smartphone, laptop, computer, and tablet all connected to the Wi-Fi, this router is smart enough to deliver its crazy fast speeds to all of them without slowing down.

The Wi-Fi coverage can also be focused in the direction it needs to go based on what’s connected. Beamforming ensures you get the strongest, most reliable signal even while moving around your home. Your devices won’t consume as much battery power as they normally would, either. Target Wake Time tech helps reduce the power consumption required for a solid wireless connection.

Upgrade to Wi-Fi 6 with off TP-Link's Archer AX3000 wireless router