And so the final entrant to the next-gen console wars has finally been introduced. This week, Microsoft unveiled the next Xbox, which as it turns out isn’t called Xbox 720, or Xbox Infinity, or even the NeXbox (which I always thought was kind of catchy). Nope, the next Xbox is called Xbox One. Kind of an interesting choice for a company that was gun shy about calling a system Xbox 2 because the competition had the PS3 and they didn’t want their system to seem like it was lagging behind. Guess they rethought that policy, because it’s Xbox One; as in the one-stop source for your living room’s digital media.
First, a bit on the tech specs. Xbox One runs on an 8-core CPU with 8 Gigs of RAM, a 500 Gig hard-drive, built in Wi-Fi (802.11n in case you care) and a Blu-Ray drive. Yup, after all that fuss back in the day about Blu-Ray vs. HD-DVD, this gen Xbox runs on a Blu-Ray drive (which debunks some of the rumors about it being all digital without any drive at all). The controller has had a slight redesign, but otherwise it’s pretty much the same controller as ever with some tighter joysticks, more responsive triggers, and an integrated battery (which I guess means you won’t have to shell out extra to get the play-and-charge kit, which would be nice). As for the design itself, it looks like…well, a box. However, it’s not unattractive, but anyone expecting any sort of radical redesign with any sort of dramatic futuristic design might be a bit disappointed. Personally, I think it looks fine. It’s note aesthetically unattractive and definitely looks very functional.
The Kinect system also gets an upgrade in looks and function. It’s touted as being more precise and responsive, able to detect things like balance and even heart rate. However, it wasn’t really demoed doing any of those things or any real game functions for that matter. Instead, it was the main UI for operating the Xbox. Voice commands and gestures will be some of the main ways for navigating menus and getting to content. In truth, that’s pretty much all I’ve used my Kinect for since I got it, so I’m not terribly surprised that was the main function Microsoft put on display. Still would like to see that it’s been improved for gaming uses beyond making dancing fun, but perhaps at E3.
Some interesting new additions include a Windows 8: Snap Mode. Basically, it’s a picture-in-picture feature, or perhaps more of a sidebar feature. In any event, it’s something that allows bringing up what is commonly second-screen information. You might be watching basketball and want to see fantasy stats for your players in a fantasy league. Alternatively, perhaps you want info on a movie while you’re watching a movie. Cool stuff, but after all the fuss that Microsoft made over their SmartGlass last year, seems like this takes away some of the need for that.
As for the games, Microsoft claimed to have 15 titles in the works for the launch. We’ll see how that works out. Many of the usual suspects were there, including Forza 5 and a new Call of Duty. In fact, DLC for Call of Duty: Ghosts will debut first on Xbox One, if that matters to you. Also, expect to see some form of Madden on it, and they showed a new game called Quantum Break.
There was a lot of talk about how Xbox One is all about me, how it puts me at the center of my entertainment world, ready to give me access to whatever I want with a simple voice command. All that talk about me, me, me and how Xbox One is all about me sort of made me not want to get one. I mean, it just seems like it’s something that will feed my sense of entitlement and feed my self-centered selfishness; or at least that’s the way it sounded at times while the new console was being pitched.
Wouldn’t it be interesting if a company came out with a console that was focused not on me but on helping me connect and help others? Helping me to do more for them? Maybe that’s a little too far-fetched. After all, entertainment and media is all about pandering to our desires. Still, can’t help but wonder if there’s some way to get beyond that. Nintendo has made some efforts towards that with some of the features of the WiiU, but even that is all about “U.”
So, as expected, no price or official release date for the Xbox One as of yet. Just a general date of later this year (safely assume in time for the holidays). As for the price, well, I guess we’ll have to wait and see. I think the WiiU demonstrated that $300 might be the upper limit for a new console. The PS3 certainly showed that getting into the $400 range isn’t going to help things. Thus far, while I think both the PS4 and Xbox One have some cool tech in them, and as expected, their games look amazing. However, there hasn’t really been much that makes me in anyway feel like either is a “must-have” because of how radically it will alter my gaming world. That’s just I though. Now that you’ve seen both consoled (well, kind of, only the controller in the case of the PS4), what do you think? Is either groundbreaking? Which would you rush out to get?
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