Xbox One Announcement
So today at Microsoft’s Xbox announcement conference there were many things to be excited for and things that left you wondering. They announced that the name of the new Xbox will be Xbox One and the hardware specs. They showed off the console, Kinect, and new controller. There were announcements of the next steps in entertainment that Microsoft is taking. And finally they showed some of the games that will be coming out for the console.
Xbox One, concise and elegant. Not spelled out as a number but as the actual word. A shortened explanation of what the console is. It is an all-in-one console that is meant to be the main hub of your living room. A console that allows you to jump from TV to the internet to a Skype phone call and then to your favorite video games. This makes me hopeful and a little worrisome. I’m hopeful because the idea of being able to go through different programs or apps with the speed they did in the conference would be amazing. To skip load screens or go through them at that speed would keep so many people with short attention spans connected to the console. But at the same time I am slightly worried because I wonder if it is so fast because it leaves all the programs and apps open. If so how many changes can you do without affecting the console speed and does this mean that the console does in fact have an “always on” internet connection requirement. This brings it all back to the name being One.
The specs of the console to me seem to be enough to be considered good but with everything that the console is trying to do I don’t know if they will be enough. 500 GB of memory, 8 gig ram, blu-ray disc drive, USB 3.0, and will bump up the number of servers that they have from 15,000 to 300,00. What I do know is that if they require me to have an “always on” internet connection and to certify my game purchases with that connection and then download the games and movies and other content on to the system so I can then use the quick changing screen options, I really don’t know if 500 GB will last me a year if that. And downloading from the cloud will just use up all data on my internet plan within a week or two. 8 gigs of ram will match the PS4 but is it enough these days to keep with the constant increase in technology and allow game worlds to be as huge and wonderful as the software creators want. I still think there will be some really great games and worlds that can be built with these hardware specs but from everything I am seeing and hearing I think they could have aimed a little higher. The thing that makes me happy about the tech specs isn’t really a hardware tech spec but the fact that they will have 300,000 servers running really blows my mind. If they truly have that many servers running I can think of the other things that the console would be able to do, possibly bringing more MMOs over to the console realm as well as less lag when streaming or playing certain things.
Showing off the console, Kinect, and the new controller for me was the point in the show that put Xbox One ahead of the PS4 for me. The console, like the name, is concise and elegant. It is sleek and to the point. Nothing on it is wasted space. The Kinect is designed to match the Xbox. They go hand in hand and this is made more obvious by the fact that every console will have a Kinect packaged in and has to be always connected to the console. The controller did exactly what I was hoping and for the most part left the controller alone. The control sticks look as if they are a closer resemblance to the newer control sticks on the new controller design for Xbox 360 and I really enjoy the new control sticks. The D-pad looks suspect to me. It looked awfully flush with the controller compared to other controllers. Maybe with more up close viewings of the controller it would be able to be seen if that is the case or not. The battery looks as if it is now inside the actual controller so there will no longer be that big battery compartment sticking out of the back. Overall the console, Kinect, and controller look beautiful. They are sleek and elegant. The console has a large portion of vents to help with heat and sound. I think Microsoft knocked it out of the park with the design of the three.
Microsoft is taking strides to really make the console live up to its name. They have extended the uses of the console to pin channels, shows, video on demand, and other social networking or media devices. The Xbox 360 was preparing us for this and now the Xbox One is taking this step. I do believe that these options will be great and very useful but for the core gamer they are not what they want. They are a second thought that a core game uses when they want to take a break from gaming. But for that core gamer with a family these will be a great addition and step forward for the entertainment aspect of the Xbox One. Also on the entertainment front, Microsoft and 343 Studios announced a Halo television series headed by none other than Steven Spielberg! If they are able to replicate the magic they produced with Forward Unto Dawn this would make a very large portion of gamers happy.
Last but not least the games aspect of the console was a bit lacking during the conference. It took about half of the conference to talk about or show anything regarding games. There were many CGI trailers that were shown and not much in the way of actual gameplay. They announce Forza 5 would be a launch title. They showed off their business agreements with EA Sports and Activision. With those two they showed more CGI trailers for sports games and a CGI trailer with small bits and pieces of gameplay mixed in of Call of Duty: Ghosts. Ghosts setting and plot really interest me and Infinity Ward is trying their best to keep up with Treyarch in terms of emotion and storytelling. I really enjoy this because it pushes the game developers to strive to make better games. They also showed a half live action/half CGI trailer for a new IP called Quantum Break. This game looked interesting and my interest increased with the announcement that there will be 15 exclusives, 8 of which will be new IPs, in the first year of launch. This really gets me psyched up for the launch of the system. But I guess I’ll have to wait to find out what any of the games are. Also announced or verified for the Xbox One are some of the usual suspects that have already been announced this year: Watch Dogs, Destiny, Battlefield 4, and Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag. Microsoft dropped the ball here when it comes to games but I understand why they held back. They will be having another conference in just less than 3 weeks at E3 which hopefully will be focused mostly on games.
All in all I was very pleased with Microsoft’s announcement conference. It had its well executed aspects as well as its shortcomings. But I do think that the shortcomings were self created because they want to hold on to some of their ideas and information until E3. I imagine and hope that at E3 we will find out the price, launch date, and launch titles. It looks like E3 will be like the E3s of old with game announcements, demos, and trailers galore. I hope for nothing less.