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Tech News Today for June 12, 2017

Tech News for Monday June 12, 2017

E3, the massive video game industry event, kicked off in Los Angeles this weekend with press events from Electronic Arts, Bethesda and Microsoft. One of the most anticipated announcements so far came from the company that Bill Gates built, with the official unveiling of the Xbox One X. This is the console Microsoft teased a year eariler, under the cooler name of Project Scorpio. Microsoft says the Xbox One X will be the most powerful video game console ever sold. And it won't be cheap either. It'll cost $499 once it goes on sale this November. So what's the difference between this Xbox One X and the $200 Xbox One S? Well, the X has a four-fold increase in graphics capability, a 31 percent increase in CPU speed, and a 50 percent increase in onboard RAM. What that equates to so far is games that can be played in 4K and HDR, which the less powerful PlayStation 4 Pro can also do at a price of $400. Read more at xbox.com

For the most part, VR games so far have been short. So much so that most games feel like demos. Bethesda is working to change that. It'll have two new blockbuster console games coming to VR soon with Fallout 4 VR and Doom VFR. Fallout will be exclusive to the HTC Vive, so far. And Doom VFR will be available on both the HTC Vive and PlayStation VR. The reason this matters is Fallout is the sort of game that you can easily put 100 or so hours into. Doom would take about 40 hours to beat. These aren't lightweight experiences. So, are VR headsets and our faces ready for such games? We'll find out soon. Watch the Fallout 4 VR trailer here. Watch the DOOM VFR trailer here.

A Way Out is one of the most original games we've seen so far at E3. In this game from Electronic Arts, the goal is to break out of a prison in what looks like the late 1950s or early 1960s. It's co-op only, so you'll have to play this with a friend or somone you're paired with online. Each mission to carry out and problem to solve will require two players. Say, one to distract a guard while the other steals an item. Or one to fight off a rival inmate while the other handles his minions. The game is often shown with a split screen — sometimes horizontal, sometimes vertical, sometimes one player getting three quarters of the screen. It looks like an ode to Shawshank Redemption. Watch the A Way Out trailer here.

Star Wars Battlefront II is coming later this year and it looks like it'll make up for the old Star Wars Battlefront which felt incomplete. The old one offered a few online multiplayer maps to play and not much else. There also wasn't much downloadable content to expand the game after release. The new one looks like a full game. It'll have a campaign, which means there will be stories and missions that you can play on your own — something sorely missing before. Each part of the Star Wars film series — the prequels, the original trilogy, and the new films — will all be represented. And EA is promising a steady stream of content coming for the game that should keep the title exciting long after its release. Watch the Star Wars Battlefront II trailer here.

Minecraft is a global hit and it's available on pretty much every gadget you can find. Now, it's going totally cross platform — so if you're playing on an iPad, and one friend is playing on a PC, and another on a console, you can all play together. This is almost unheard of in gaming. At most, you'll be able to play a game cross platform between an Xbox and a Windows PC since both run a version of Windows. But Mojang, the studio that makes Minecraft, is blowing up this paradigm. Read more at polygon.com.

Uber is getting some new leadership. Reuters reports sources that say CEO Travis Kalanick will take a leave of absence. Meanwhile, Uber's senior vice president Emil Michael has sent an official email to employees saying he is leaving the company. Yesterday Uber's board met to discuss the recommendations from the official report by former attorney general Eric Holder and a company spokesperson said they will accept all of the recommendations. We haven't heard exactly what they are, but some sources say requesting that Michael leave was one of them. Nestle Executive Vice President and Alibaba Board Member Wan Ling Martello will join the board. Read more at reuters.com.

Former Android head Andy Rubin's new Essential Phone will have one exclusive carrier — Sprint. In an interview with USA Today, Essential President Niccolo de Masi called Sprint the network of the future. You can also buy the Essential phone unlocked and it will probably work just fine on any network. The exclusivity, many are reporting, has less to do with Sprint's current network capabilities than it does with Rubin's friendship with the Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son. Softbank owns 83 percent of Sprint. Read more at usatoday.com.

Researchers say that games like Minecraft can help Syrian Refugees improve language skills and mental health. According to Forbes, the onling gaming study called Project Hope used not only Minecraft, but also a coding-education program from Code.org, a game called Alien Game, and a Turkish language game designed with the Cerego engine. The study included 147 Syrian children between the ages of nine and 14 Urfa, Turkey. Read more at forbes.com.

Amateur Drone Racers, listen up — Drone Racing League or DRL has just raised $20 million dollars in new Series B funding, led in part by Liberty Media Corporation, owners of the Formula 1 racing brand.) The DRL is the leader in this new space, having raised over 32 million dollars. They have partnerships with Amazon, Swatch, and even the US Air Force. Read more at variety.com.

Jason Howell is out today, so Nathan Olivarez-Giles is joining Megan Morrone for Tech News Today. The show streams live weekdays at 4PM Pacific, 7PM Eastern at twit.tv/live, and you can subscribe to the show and get it on-demand at twit.tv/tnt.

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