The next generation of video game consoles is upon us.
In reaction to Sony having their own live stream reveal of their Playstation 4, which is due out this fall, Microsoft saw they needed to prepare their new console fast, and before E3. So, naturally, this morning, 20 days before the Electronic Entertainment Expo in June, Microsoft set up an exclusive conference to reveal their plan for the future of gaming. It’s official name is Xbox One.
The hour launched strong, giving people exactly the one thing Sony left out in it’s PS4 presentation, and that’s showing the console itself.
Let’s start with the controller. With 40 new features, including a subtly hidden battery pack, as one feature that makes this new controller look slimmer and sleeker than that of the 360. It also has a more refined directional pad (thank the gods), and precise triggers. However, the curves on the controller look potentially uncomfortable, and the face buttons (A,B,X,Y) on the right look almost too flat to the point of sticking, but one can’t know for sure until it’s in player’s hands on the show floor at E3 or beyond.
The Xbox One looks like, well, a box. It’s a rather large machine, as all Xboxes seem to to consumes upon release, though it was promised to be eight times as powerful as the Xbox 360, and I believe the word “silent” was used in terms of it’s processing, which I’m assuming was a subtle apology to the racket of the 360 machines.
The Xbox One comes packaged with ability to support Blu Ray and DvD discs, 8 GB of Ram, an 8 Core Microsoft CPU, 3 operating systems, and a 500 GB Hard Drive. It’s a machine ripe with power.
The Xbox 360 has been know through the current generation of consoles as the machine to use for multimedia. As the console that brought the ushering of the “dashboard” into the mainstream, and now the Xbox One will take that concept and embrace it into it’s full potential.
Where the Wii U wanted to connect cable privateers with its TVii application, the Xbox One takes it to the next level, and gives users the ability to connect to their cable tv, music apps, Netflix, or games at the swipe of a hand, or two simple words, the first of which is generally declaring “Xbox.”
It seems to be the case that the 2.0 of the Xbox Kinect will not just be a simple peripheral for wonky motion control games. Microsoft is confident that the use of gestures and simple phrases will unify any and all services into one location on your Xbox Dashboard.
Don Mattrick described it as bringing “all of your entertainment coming alive in one place.”
This really speaks true to the goal of the Xbox One. Where the Playstation 4 wants to be a media device to allow games to connect with their games and friends, the Xbox One desires to be an incredibly streamlined multimedia platform.
Examples include notifications from ESPN, group Skype video calls, and “snap” functions to search on Internet Explorer while watching or playing anything, and all of it will be accessible instantaneously.
Xbox One will be outfitted to customize your dashboard, respond to your voice, and your specific gestures, implying that the technology in the new Kinect is powerful enough to know you apart from your roommates and your family so well it can determine your heartbeat.
A new Xbox Live service was mentioned, though no specific price range was mentioned, and the promise was made that all Gamerscores and Achievements will be carried over from Xbox 360 to Xbox One.
Vice President of EA games, Andrew Wilson was brought out to talk about some of the many plans involving sports games, not even including the new Microsoft partnership with the NFL. Wilson expressed an idea that the games should be as intelligent as we are, and that “sports are are much about your head as your feet and hands.” Xbox One also hopes to accomplish this in gameplay in creating humanlike intelligence, creating content each day that impacts games depending on communities and environments and even precision down to the smallest of angles.
But what about the games?
This will be one of the 15 exclusive titles to the console at launch, 8 of those titles will supposedly be completely new franchises.
One of the more unexpected moments of the conference, acclaimed director, Steven Spielberg was introduced to the audience by Microsoft Entertainment Studio’s Nancy Tellem, and 343’s Bonnie Ross revealing a new project in the Halo franchise: a live action television series, creating a more solid foundation to make games more fully interactive with television and users with the richness of the Halo universe.
The show was closed out by Activision’s Eric Hirshberg, showing the first gameplay trailer of Call of Duty: Ghosts, which seems to be a promising new direction for the series compared to simply making a fourth Modern Warfare, and was the trailer to truly show off what the Xbox One is capable of with in game graphics engines as opposed to simple pre-rendered footage.
Unfortunately, there was no specifics on Xbox One’s release date, or it’s potential pricing. Also, simple overlooked details like whether or not Xbox Live will be free or paid, used game fees, and no backwards compatibility are concerning to consumers. Hopefully much more will be revealed by the time E3 comes in 20 day’s time, however, the ambiguity of the plans to use the hardware within both the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 could be beneficial to developers, not only to create an openness in creativity, but to allow for a clean slate in a heavily social heavy and rapidly changing world of technology, to hopefully to make this next generation of consoles one that will have an even longer lasting lifespan than the current.
One this is certain, the idea of a “Console War” is slowly fading, as each new console seems to want to accomplish different things. All that’s left to determine is who get’s the good exclusive games.
The Xbox One will be available in stores “Later This Year.”