Our Own John Escudero and Daniel Hill give their opinions about what we know so far about the Xbox One reveal.
The Look:The sleek style of the box is nice and simple, classic. The graphics for the games they did show (which weren’t many) were crisp and impressive (I watched on 540p for most of it), especially Call Of Duty: Ghosts. The Hardware: It does, indeed, have a bluray drive, leading us away from multi-disk games (at least for a little while), the RAM jumped from the 512mb that Xbox 360 has and leaped to a whopping 8GB, which is about the same as my PC, so hopefully it will crash/freeze less often and the graphics and gameplay will be even smoother. The new controller looks about the same as the old, with slight changes in button position and it can give haptic feedback/vibration to even the individual trigger buttons now. The kinect camera has been upgraded to 1080p, and it seems to have voice recognition, face/body recognition, and a much better grasp of how to track its human masters before it rebels and tries to overthrow us. From the tweets from the people still at the show, they’re saying the console itself is also much bigger than the current ones with tons of ventilation to prevent overheating, which is good considering the power under the hood. The Software: The Xbox One Architecture talks about integrating the three branches of what it can do, taking the Windows core, the television controls, the multitasking abilities and the sharing and putting them all in one package. They’ve also integrated the ability to make your phone or tablet a third way to control your Xbox One experience. You can use it to control tv, to browse the screens, as well as to multitask. The Promise: Microsoft is aiming to be THE integral part to the gamer living room. They’re not saying “we’re the ultimate gaming console”; They’re saying “we want to run your living room and put it in your hands”, put it into hand-gestures, voice commands, and letting you share the living room experience over the internet, over a cloud and over the distance of 1000 miles or ten feet with things like the integrated apps, live tv switching to game almost instantly, being able to record and share your gaming exploits for bragging rights, and Skype calls running full screen or side by side with whatever you’re doing. The Features: The One (Matrix reference thrown in too?) comes with a new, extreme HD 1080p camera on its new Kinect interface, with the ability to not only see and recognize you, but to even capture your heart rate (which I’m guessing will integrate nicely with the next gen versions of things like Your Shape: Fitness Evolved and UFC Trainer Kinect games). The Games: I was disappointed that most of the games they showed were sports games. I know they’re a huge franchise and immensely popular, so I can’t begrudge them that, but I would’ve preferred to see more story-based games. I’m excited about Quantum Break, since it seems to have to do with controlling time or possibly premonitions, from how I saw the trailer story-wise. The other big deal for me was Ghosts. They went behind the scenes, they did a trailer and they did a side-by-side comparison with Modern Warfare 3. Now, here’s the rub: Modern Warfare 3, while graphically impressive, was nowhere near as impressive as Black Ops 2. I would have preferred a comparison between Black Ops 2 and Ghosts, since Black Ops 2, in my mind, would be the graphics to beat. Even if the new Call Of Duty graphics were only marginally better than Black Ops 2, they could have easily said something like “The difference might not seem like much, but remember that we made Xbox One to withstand the test of time, and developers need to figure out the massive power that the One is capable of. These graphics are beautiful and rich and detailed, and they’ve only just scratched the surface.” and we would’ve been thrilled. Even so, the level of detail and beauty in Ghosts is awe inspiring (I was drooling a little, I’ll admit) and I can’t wait to see it somewhere I don’t have to stream it live, hopefully a trailer will be released that I can watch downloaded in 720p and drool a bit more. The Good: They are taking the plunge into broadening their base, widening their scope and pretty much want to take over your living room and make it awesome. Awesomeness is good, I suppose. The Bad: A lot of the features seem to bank on having TV/Cable/Satellite as well as internet, so people without these will have plenty of features they are paying for but can’t use. They also didn’t talk nearly enough about games, and to even get to games took a half hour. The Ugly: Having to wait for E3 to learn more, honestly. I know they’re trying to save some stuff to reveal in E3, but even if they casually mentioned some of the 15 upcoming games in passing we’d have information enough to speculate, which we don’t because they didn’t. Daniel Hill:
So, the Xbox One – I’m a little late to the party on picking this whole thing apart, but here I am. What we saw today made a lot of gamers upset, and understandably so. They came looking for games, and got a whole lot of…not games. Microsoft also missed an opportunity to make just how “always online” was going to work, and Major Nelson’s whole thing on used games left a sour taste in many people’s mouths. However, I’m not exactly shocked by what I saw, and thought that Microsoft took a smart approach to both their new console and the announcement.
Today’s technology is all about integration and ease of use, and Microsoft has clearly been following this trend. If the voice recognition and gestures work as shown in the presentation, it would really give Xbox One an edge over products that have similar features, but not the ease of use. Having cable, movies, music, and other multitasking abilities seems great, too, for when I’m not playing games. I do use my Xbox for other things.
A fair argument, however, is to say that the Xbox One is not a gaming device that happens to do some extra stuff, but a multimedia device that happens to be capable of gaming. I can understand why people think that, but here’s why it doesn’t matter. It still plays games. Besides the REALLY crappy situations with used games, and the whole “always on” issue still being left unanswered (which, what the hell?), it still does the same thing the original Xbox did, but also a lot more.
Besides, where does anyone get off saying the Xbox One doesn’t have games? Do they think that everyone will forget that they will be releasing 15 exclusive games – 8 of which will be new IP’s – over the course of the next year? Of course not, and if they expect the support of gamers, they will have to not just deliver, but deliver the goods. So let’s just wait for the “games” part until E3, where it makes more sense for them to talk about games.
All in all, I walked away from this reveal thinking two things. One: they are taking the safe approach with the Xbox One. By going after everyone and not just the gamer with the admittedly cool multimedia features they have, there is potential there to get support from people who won’t even be buying the thing to play games on it. If you look at how some of the best games built for gamers have fared in the sales charts, such as Valkyria Chronicles, Okami, and Alan Wake, one could understand why they may be leery to take the same route Sony did (as much as I appreciate that route).
Two – they didn’t exactly short change anyone. This was a console reveal. Not a press event to talk about every intricate detail of the console, such as games and nitty gritty specs. With E3 less than a month away, why do that? They showed us the Xbox One, told us what the thing could do at a basic level, and made it look relatively cool while they were doing it, minus the obnoxious pauses they took after everything they said to wait for applause (that was humorously awkward). They filled me in on the Xbox One as a device, and have plenty of time to fill us in on what it all means.
Personally, I’m excited.