The next generation console war has started today as Microsoft have announced the new Xbox One at the #XboxReveal meeting on their Redmond campus in Washington. Microsoft exec Don Mattrick introduced the console after suggesting that the living room has changed into a new and too complex entity in need of an All-in-One system with the player at the centre and a simple, instant and complete interface.
TV integration and Motion Control
The console was demonstrated live and seemingly instantly responds to player voice and motion commands via a set of universal gestures. The system is able to instantly switch between applications, games and live TV and supports snap multitasking and socially-driven TV listings which will make the console into as much of a PVR and home entertainment hub as a games console. Xbox One users can voice activate their TV using their console via a separate but included Kinect motion sensor bar.
The Power of One
The hardware features a 64-bit architecture supported by 6 Bn transistors and 8GB RAM, seemingly not too much different from the PS4 unveiled in February. Powered by the Windows Kernel, Microsoft have also suggested that the machine features heavy integration with cloud storage and a massively improved Xbox Live architecture, adding weight to recent rumors of mandatory always-online connectivity. The controller will be an improved version of the massively popular Xbox 360 controller only with an improved D-Pad and isolated analogue stick feedback. Xbox Smartglass will also be natively supported, massively improving integration with the popular iOS, Windows Mobile and Android app.
What about me Cheevo Score?
The membership system for Live will apparently remain the same, presumably including the $60 annual Gold subscription fee, however the console will support enhanced video sharing and editing tools and an ominous-sounding new and dynamic achievements system which will depend upon how the player actually plays rather than just accomplishing specific pre-defined goals.
Oddly there weren’t actually many revealed today. Microsoft are promising more at E3 next month and 15 exclusive titles currently planned for release within the first 12 months of the console’s life cycle. EA Sports announced four sports titles in Fifa 14, Madden, NBA Live and UFC which are all being developed using the EA Sports Ignite engine designed to take advantage of Xbox One’s unique capability as well as a new version of FIFA 14 Ultimate Team which will be an exclusive to the new platform.
Microsoft Studios also announced exclusives Forza Motorsport 5 and Quantum Break, a time bending and story driven saga from the creators of Alan Wake and Max Payne and Activision premiered Xbox One in-game footage of Call of Duty: Ghosts which will include dynamic multiplayer maps and a new canine companion.
And that’s it?
Pretty much. Microsoft’s Nancy Tellem coined possibly the most cringe worthy phrase of the presentation when describing Xbox One as the “next watercooler” and the conference seemed to mostly focus on the new immersive and personalised TV and media experiences which the console will be able to provide. Halo developer 343 Studios also announced a new live action TV series based on the franchise to be produced by Stephen Spielberg but no mention was made as to whether that will be an Xbox Live exclusive series or just one being developed for a premium TV network.
Patrick and Paul will be filling the Geek Pride space shortly with their views on the announcement but I couldn’t help feeling slightly underwhelmed by the whole presentation. To be fair, presentations and conferences have never been Microsoft’s strongest point and there is no denying that the entertainment hub and social capabilities of the console look like they have potential but Microsoft may have a big job on their hands at E3 when trying to convince actual gamers that Xbox One is the new console they need under their TV later this year.
Stay with Geek Pride for regular updates and coverage of the Xbox One as news develops. Xbox One will be released globally later in 2013. No price has yet been announced.