Today the gaming world was introduced to Microsoft’s newest console the Xbox…ONE!
“One” Xbox to Rule Them All
During the presentation from Microsoft’s Washington headquarters we were shown the new console, it’s redesigned controller and the latest version of Kinect, which I assume will be packaged with the new console when it’s released “later this year”.
There were a few significant announcements that didn’t get much screen time. The first being that Xbox One will feature a Blu-Ray drive. While many of our writers were convinced that Microsoft would never license Sony’s tech, I maintained that Microsoft would have to fall in line or be left in the dust. It looks like they opted to bite the bullet and put Blu-Ray drives in the new consoles. While Blu-Ray drives typically have the ability to play DVD which is the format used by the Xbox 360 but The Verge is reporting that due to the Xbox One featuring a totally different system architecture backwards compatibility is pretty much off the table. Looks like when the Xbox One hits the market this fall that collection of Xbox 360 games will be bound for the closet.
Another element of the Xbox One’s platform that was hugely underrepresented in the presentation are the games. We did see a teaser for Quantum Break the new title from Remedy Interactive but other than the 10 minute Call of Duty: Ghosts presentation we got at the end of the show no other non-sports titles were shown. We did get a quick look at the new EA Sports up that will apparently see the return of the NBA Live franchise, but as many Canadian journalists noticed NHL 14 was surprisingly absent from the presentation.
While we didn’t see many games but what was shown did look pretty impressive. Call of Duty has never looked better, and I’m super excited to play through this next shooter adventure as a service dog. This hasn’t been confirmed by Infinity Ward or Microsoft but if this new dog character turns out not to be playable in the next Call of Duty, I’m gonna call that a huge missed opportunity.
The console itself looks a little on the blocky side and is a far cry from the sleek curves of the current Xbox 360 Slim. That said, if the last eight years have taught us anything it’s that Microsoft is not above redesigning their console. So we may see a new design a year or two after release.
There were also a few features that will attempt to enhance your gaming experience mentioned. The Xbox One and it’s companion Kinect sensor will be listening for voice commands even while not in use, which means you will be able to boot up your Xbox One simply by telling it to do so. The Kinect sensor will also now recognize who’s speaking and sign in with that person’s profile. The system may also remember where you were when you stopped your last gaming session, and will allegedly drop you back into the game right where you left off with no waiting.
One of the biggest parts of the presentation was dedicated to television and how the Xbox One will be integrating with live TV. We were shown how this integrated TV experience will bring things like fantasy sports to the next level. While watching an NFL game you can bring up your fantasy players and have their stats update in real time. You can also browse the web while enjoying your TV, video or music content. It seems all well and good but I’ve never found myself wanting to watch trailers for other movies while trying to enjoy the movie I’m currently watching. Surfing the web while watching TV? Yes. While watching a movie? No thanks. It’s still more of a non-feature for those people who said goodbye to their cable subscriptions sometime ago. Come on Xbox, nobody watches live TV anymore. Well, with the exception of sports and you’ve got that more than covered.
Overall the Xbox One seems pretty feature rich but without seeing what these features mean to gamers it’s pretty hard to get excited for fantasy sports and live TV. Some of the new Kinect functionality seems like it will make for an easy going experience and the new Kinect sensor will be reading a much more data on how your body moves. This could definitely bode well for physical fitness games like Zumba Fitness and Nike+. However, the lack of games shown leaves me with a uneasy and empty feeling. It’s really unfortunate that we only saw two non-sports/racing games and one of them was CoD, but that could just means there will be lots of software to melt our eyeballs at E3 in just a few weeks.