Xbox Won?

Yes, the pun is too obvious. No, I don’t believe it is true at this point.

So something pretty big happened this morning. Three months after Sony lifted the curtain on the Playstation 4, Microsoft finally unveiled its next generation gaming console, henceforth known as the Xbox One.

The whole thing was done in under an hour and had a bit of an unfinished air to it. E3 is less than three weeks away, after all, and Microsoft probably felt like they needed to leave some content for their major LA keynote.

If you missed the presentation, this amazing minute-and-a-half video sums it up pretty well:

As expected, the internet is abuzz with fanboy wars right now. Generalisations and melodrama are sweeping forums the world over. Most of them are declaring the PS4 the early winnner of the latest console ‘war’. Personally, I think that’s ridiculous. We just don’t know enough about the X1’s games yet -I shall be waiting until E3 before deciding which of the two consoles to pick up first.

In the meantime, I have thrown together a short list of three things I like and three things I dislike about the Xbox One so far, based on what we do know:

LIKING:
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The Name
I was getting pretty sick of the name “Xbox 720” being flung around like it was set in stone. What’s the point of going around in a circle twice, right? Also, “Xbox Infinity” sounded a little too pretentious. “Xbox One” makes perfect sense to Microsoft’s marketing of the console, which focuses on making it the one box you need in your living room. But more than that, it’s simple and it’s easy to remember and I just like it.

The Controller
Considering how highly regarded the Xbox 360 controller is, there was a danger of Microsoft resting on its laurels and releasing a copycat handset. But they didn’t and that’s awesome. By early accounts the new, flatter controller is really comfortable to hold, the magnetised, rumble-packed triggers are fun and there is FINALLY a usable d-pad on a Microsoft controller!

Better battery life would just be icing on the cake.

Exclusives
This is probably going to be the most important thing for Microsoft going forward. It was music to my ears when Microsoft announced that they have 15 exclusives coming to the Xbox One within its first 12 months, and even though they only showed two of those (Forza Motorsport 5 and Quantum Break) , they both look quite snazzy indeed. E3 will be the American giant’s chance to prove they can go toe-to-toe with Sony in this make-or-break area.
.

DISLIKING:
.

Swipe n’ Talk
Honestly, the new, built-in, obligatory Kinect sensor that ships with every Xbox One looks pretty impressive tech-wise. Microsoft seemed more interested in detailing its hardware capabilities than that of the console itself, and for good reason. As far as accuracy in sensing movements, it leaves the current Kinect sensor in the dust. But I got over the novelty of the first one very quickly and the ability to pinch the air to bring up a Skype call while I’m watching TV doesn’t exactly excite me. The same thing goes for voice commands. Regardless of how well they work, I can still see annoying accidents happening.

Sport Integration
OK, so the idea of seeing your live NFL fantasy football scores update in real time while you are watching a game sounds pretty damn awesome. The ability to compare immediately with your friends’ scores sounds even better. But I just have this horrible feeling in my gut that when the Xbox One launches here in Australia, there will be no such functionality to be found. I would absolutely love to see dynamic and socially focused stat updates while I’m watching cricket or rugby, but I really can’t see that happening. Grrrr.

Very angular, isn’t it?

Muddy Details
For me, this was by far the most worrying aspect of the presentation and the press frenzy that followed. Two of the most concerning questions people had leading up to the event were related to whether the Xbox One will be able to play used games and whether or not it will be “always online” – requiring a constant internet connection to function. Various Microsoft spokespeople seem to have their wires crossed, because in the last 24 hours there have been some pretty mixed messages floating about. They range from “Yes it can play used games scott-free, no it won’t require an online connection all the time” to “Yes you can play used games – if you pay the full RRP of the game via credit card, and yes you can play the console offline – for a maximum of 24 hours until it locks you out”. Concerning, to say the least. Here’s hoping we know the answers for sure come E3.
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…and a bonus:

It was a rather unexpected and lovely surprise to hear that Steven Spielberg himself will be working with 343 Industries to produce a live-action Halo TV series. Halo lore is already very deep and there is a virtual goldmine of interesting stories to tell within its mythology. With the rapid advances in the quality of major television series in recent times (Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad etc), there has arguably never been a better time to undertake such an ambitious project. I will be following the development of this series with great interest.

Bring on E3!

2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by X on May 22, 2013 at 7:02 am

    They both screwed up imo. Especially microsoft due to the fact that apparently console dosent work without the kinect. Boring presentation, lack of creativity and other things completely disappointed me. On both sides of course.

    Reply

  2. Posted by feelingblind on May 22, 2013 at 7:36 am

    I think both companies succeeded, simply be holding specific hardware reveal events before the E3 gaming expo. By getting the important hardware information out to the public, as well as the features not specific to gaming, it will allow E3 to be all about the games.

    Reply

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