One box to rule them all
So if you’re like me you watched the Xbox One announcement live streamed through your 360, waiting to be awed by Microsoft’s next product. If you are indeed that person you might want to skip this bit, as I’m just going to lay out everything that happened in the show. Anyhow if you’re not like me and didn’t watch the live stream or even seen the show don't worry, I’m going to wrap it all up in a nice neat box for you.
So what happened exactly?
Well, Microsoft have unveiled their brand spanking new Xbox One (see above). Looks cool huh? It’s got 8 whole CPU cores, 8GB of system memory, 500GB RAM, built in WiFi, a HDMI input and a Blu-ray player. It's pretty similar to Sony’s PS4 specs to be honest, but hey, if you like something a bit more than stats I’ve got something for you. During the course of the presentation various Microsoft big shots came up onto the stage to demonstrate its new features. Kinect now comes as standard with any Xbox One purchase, yeah, no backing out I’m afraid. It’s integral to everything this new Xbox plans to do. The new Xbox voice recognition runs through Kinect and is used to navigate the Windows 8/Metro looking dashboard. The idea is that you can switch between playing games and watching TV just like you can switch between channels on a regular TV. Fair enough, if you like that sort of thing, but don’t expect it to be as slick as it was in the presentation. Ever had a salesman demonstrate something about their product that doesn’t work at all when you try it? It’s a bit like that, Yusef Mehdi has been accused of using a remote instead of the in-built voice commands. Admittedly probably done so the live conference doesn’t end in failure, but it isn’t a good sign.
This kind of feature demonstration went on for a full half an hour before it got to the stuff people actually care about: games. 343 announced a Halo TV series directed by Steven Spielberg, we have no information on that though. TV deals with American sports leagues and channels were talked about, using the Xbox to stream TV on demand services, and more. It can do pretty much everything your average Lovefilm or Netflix subscription does. The pitch seems to be about centralisation though - it’s all to be done through one machine. Is that what people want now?
Games wonderful games
About half way in the audience started to look like they were bored out of their skull. They probably were, I was. A Microsoft boffin announced the next Forza Motorsport for the next Xbox, which roused me out of my slumber. Unfortunately nothing much was said and I can only infer that it looks prettier. See for yourself below.
Then the stage turned red and a big “EA Sports” icon whooshed to the screen. Enter another bigshot, this time from EA. As you might have heard, Microsoft are now in bed with EA, their entire sports franchise is now Microsoft exclusive. All of it, FIFA, Madden NFL etc, all are now Xbox exclusive. That was a bit of a shock to be honest. All these games come with updated physics and graphics engines for the next Xbox. After a quarter of an hour of err, sports people, along comes Remedy. Yeah you heard me, Remedy, the makers of Alan Wake. They have a new IP by the name of Quantum Break. Not too sure what it was all about, a ship went through a bridge. As they seem to do. Microsoft devs say it’s a blend between TV and game, so, what Defiance did. Have a trailer, see what you think.
Of course, Microsoft couldn’t leave the core market without something now could they? They had to get some real cheers, unlike the ones during the reveal which were apparently faked. They were very proud indeed to announce the next game in the Call of Duty franchise will be first on Xbox. Welcome to Call of Duty: Ghosts, which appears to be set in a post apocalyptic world with members of different special ops groups mashed into one called “Ghosts.” The developers, Infinity Ward, say they are bringing in a new focus on story telling. Dynamic changing maps are a new feature in multiplayer, with the ability to completely customise your character. A new snazzy graphics engine is standard for the next gen tech and the developers are using this to their advantage. Sliding and fast flowing combat are going to feature. They seem to want to break the CoD mould a little. Oh and there’s a dog. Here, have another trailer.
And that concludes the Xbox One announcement.
So, by now you know enough about the reveal to understand that people might be a little disgruntled. Unfortunately the whole story extends beyond the reveal. The Microsoft executives left a lot of questions that needed to be answered, instead they quietly confirmed our worst fears: the Xbox One will be always online. Don’t let anyone say otherwise. The Xbox One will stay on for 24 hours without an internet connection, at which point it will require you to plug it into the internet as if you were connecting to Xbox Live. Strike one.
The Xbox One will also not support pre-owned games, and games will have to be registered to your Xbox. This will severely affect sales of your local game store, not to mention burn a hole in your pocket. To add insult to injury, game developers will find it harder to develop for the next generation consoles, therefore games are going to go up in price, although estimates vary as to how much. Strike two.
The Xbox One will also not support backwards compatibility. The executives said in their official announcement “Backwards compatibility is backwards thinking.” So, unfortunately you’re not going to be able to play all your favourite games of last generation on the Xbox One, which is a shame, seeing as many gamers enjoy going back to older games and playing them again. Strike three.
Xbox One is out for the count it seems. It’s not all doom and gloom though, E3 is just around the corner and Microsoft might be able to turn this disaster around. Might. Microsoft say they have 15 new exclusives to reveal at E3 - will that be enough to win over the fans again after this bungle? I’m not so sure. The executives appear to be disconnected as to what gamers actually want. All the talk is about TV deals and movie rentals. Truth is, I just want something that plays a game. That’s it.