Xbox One Reveal: All About The System, Baby
Well… this Xbox One reveal sure was… interesting.
I found myself tremendously disappointed while simultaneously impressed. In short, this was all about the system. Features, tech, specs, connectivity; stuff like that.
Necessary… Maybe not.
Smart… Probably not.
The biggest issue with the conference was the lack of games; only about five games were showcased, and the only one I even half cared about was Quantum Break, and only because I had never heard of it before.
I can confidently say that compared with the PS4 reveal, the Xbox One reveal was like a little brother trying to pull off the sweet backflip into the pool and totally smashing his face on the edge of the diving board.
Microsoft did some stuff right though - so let’s dive in and take a look!
**All in One? Kind of wish it were just One... gaming machine**
The Center of the Living Room
This system is really aiming to be the box that unites everything! Kind of like the One Ring, or that main dude from Avatar. The system will play your movies, your music and your cable T.V. at the same time and let you flip between them seamlessly and instantly. It’s cool, but ultimately kind of pointless for a gaming machine. They even said the system has 3 operating systems that are all friends, which allows them to switch between everything so seamlessly.
Would I use it? Probably, yeah, but I really don’t need it. I’m not that lazy.
I’m not a PC or tech guy, so I’m really including this because I know how legitimately important it is. Overall it seems as though this system is competitive with the PS4’s impressive suite of tech. Something in me says that the Xbox One wont be quite as powerful as the PS4, or as easy to develop for, but I’d imagine that it will come mighty close.
The rundown of the specs are as follows:
- 8 Core CPU
- 8GB RAM
- Blu-Ray (thank GOD)
- and the other stuff we expect like wifi, HDMI ports and USB 3.0
Now I understand that this is pretty vague... but hopefully within the next few days we'll have some more specifics about whats under the hood.
What about the Kinect!? You remember… that expensive, garbage camera that Microsoft said would change everything but ended up being slow, dumb and obnoxious. You don’t remember? OH… LUCKY YOU! Well the Kinect 2.0 looks to improve upon the old Kinect in every way possible (which is really like spraying a can of Lysol on a turd). The voice commands in particular really wowed me. They seemed conversational and useful, as opposed to the current trend of screaming at the Kinect after it pauses a movie for no reason other than it just feels like it. The level of fidelity that the Kinect has is truly impressive (even for a cynic like me). The machine can even detect facial expressions, and heart rate to see how people are reacting. It seems like it can really augment the games, as opposed to being tacked on and often obnoxious.
Obviously the gesture-based stuff (which I HATE) is returning, but I’ll reserve my judgment on that until I see more at E3. Needless to say it’ll be shipped with every new Xbox One and it will have to be connected to get the system to work.
**I love you....**
The (Sexy) Controller
I love this thing. Seriously. It looks great, it is about 15% faster than the old controller for starters and there’s this cool impulse trigger thing, which I think is kind of like an “HD rumble” which provides more feedback to the controller during gameplay.
It’s really a natural evolution on the already (nearly) perfect Xbox 360 controller. No touch pad, no second screen; just an honest to goodness solid controller.
Lets hope they fixed that D-pad, huh?
The New Xbox Live
The greatest draw of the Xbox over the years has been Xbox Live. It pioneered the online landscape and has continued to be ahead of everyone since the OG Xbox. As impressive as the PS4’s online draw is (and it is impressive) the Xbox Live redesign nails it. It looks clean (in spite of the fact that its very Windows 8-ish), fast and useful. As a gamer I don’t need the whole trending section (allows the user to see what everyone else on Xbox Live is doing), but it can’t hurt and I get why it’s there.
What really excites me about it is the facts that the new generation of Xbox Live is popping the server count up from about 15,000 servers to somewhere in the area of 300,000 servers. That is BONKERS! This will allow real cloud gaming and cloud saves, which has yet to be taken seriously as a viable option. That means I can go over to my buddies to pay some Halo 70 or maybe some Call of Duty: Recycled Gameplay 5 without having to worry about bringing my save information on a flash drive. Now all I have to do is make some friends!
My only real concern with Xbox Live is that it may be too much. Sure it’s fast, its connected, it comprehensive, but there is a lot going on there. It could be distracting if it isn’t executed with grace. If Microsoft is just trying to slap as many bullet-points on the box as it can then they’re making a mistake and they can be sure gamers will call them on it (while insulting their mothers, no doubt). I would rather have fewer really solid and clean features than a complete cluster-eff of features and windows.
**On the set of everything**
Holy Crap, it’s Steven Spielberg!
I can confidently say the only time I really got excited during this even was totally out of left field. The Xbox entertainment lady, Nancy Tellem came on stage, brought on the head of 343 Industries, of Halo fame, and blew my pants off (but I really just took my pants of because I was so psyched). The long dead Halo movie has been a thorn in the side of gamers for years now. We came so close to a great adaptation with Neill Blomkamp (District 9) directing and mother-effin Steven Spielberg (literally everything) producing.
Well he’s back; Spielberg is officially in charge of a Halo television series. This is HUGE news. Not only does this give the entertainment section of the Xbox One Spielberg’s unofficial blessing, but also pioneers premium television on the device. Not only could this make a great series, but it could open the door for more developers to make some sweet live action adventures about our favorite game characters! Sure Netflix is doing this premium programming bit already… but they don’t have Steven Spielberg or Halo so… yeah.
On top of that I’m hoping this kind of stuff can be applied to games: imagine watching the new Halo TV show, and then being encouraged to play a level of Halo that will directly influence the future of the series and have it work.
Could be pretty cool.
Microsoft had a very different approach to this conference than Sony did. Not necessarily worse (though I think it was less successful) but definitely different. Sony jumped out onto that stage with a sack full of games and a pocket full of dreams. But Microsoft went out there with a satchel full of features and a pocket full of hopes; two sides of the same spectrum. Sony wanted us to see that it was, first and foremost, a game machine, but Microsoft wanted us to see that it can be the entertainment epicenter of your entire world.
The problem is the Xbox’s core market are people that love games. We may love sports, movies, music and T.V. too, but we’ll be buying the system to game. Yeah they mentioned some games… EA Sports is fully on board, and we say a glimpse of a new IP from Remedy called Quantum Break and lots of reveals of Call of Duty: Ghosts, but that was kind of it. They glossed over some interesting facts that could have been such a huge sell. They said that they have 15 exclusives coming within the Xbox One’s first YEAR. That is enormous! They even said that 8 of these titles are new IP’s, which is something we so desperately need in the gaming landscape. If I literally saw two new games, one sequel and one new IP, this conference would have been way better for me.
As a gamer this event left me disappointed. But as a consumer I’m left with hope. They did what Sony didn’t want to do; they showed the console, and displayed what the system is really capable of. The Xbox One is really comprehensive and does bring the living room together, but being that this is supposed to be a gaming machine, I am underwhelmed. I honestly didn't expect to see many games, but I was looking forward to more than I saw.
Fortunately some troubling rumors have been put to rest. Geoff Keighley revealed in his post show that it does not always have to be “always on,” though many of the features do need the Internet to function (which I can accept). However the system may block used games, which isn’t a huge deal, but is obnoxious and alienating.
I think Microsoft can salvage this at E3. Microsoft set out with the goal of “show and tell” today, but they just didn’t tickle my gamer button and they were awfully vague when they decided to tell anything. For the record, this could be a great strategy if they leave the hardware in the back at E3 and focus on some of those exclusives. I’d even be okay with them showing how the games interact with the other system features, but we NEED to see some games. Not kids rolling around playing Kinectimals One (working title made up by me), and not Xbox execs embarrassing themselves by playing a music simulator. Real games guys! At least we know there's Blu-ray, right?!
Reveals and specifics keep coming, so keep checking back for more info and analysis in the future. But what did you like most about the conference? What did you hate? Am I full of crap, or is my analysis spot on? Tell me and maybe I’ll write a love ballad for you!