Xbox One announced

In 359 generations’ time there’s going to be trouble

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So Microsoft have just announced the Xbox One, coming out later this year (read: almost definitely early November, Call of Duty Ghosts launches 5th November so we’d be surprised if it was after that) with a media event in Redmond. Our thoughts on the announcements after the break.

The Console

While I enjoyed the name ‘Xbox Infinity’ I’m happy with ‘Xbox One’ and am confident it will end up being called just ‘Xbox’ or more entertainingly ‘The One’ by consumers. It’s a beautiful console, and the controller hasn’t been changed too much which is a very, very good thing. Hardware wise there were no real surprises, but I’m glad to get confirmation of the Blu-Ray drive. Assuming the rumours have been right we can expect a piece of hardware slightly less powerful than the PS4, but it’s unclear how much of both consoles’ power will be used up with their fairly expensive-sounding operating systems.

Kinect is a different matter altogether, with an impressive 1080p resolution running at 30fps. Assuming they really have eliminated the pesky lag that ruined the majority of Kinect games they could be on to a winner, but those of us with limited space with be pleased to see that the announcements focused on the voice commands, one of the few aspects of Kinect that was genuinely useful. I was happier than I’d care to admit about the ability to turn the Xbox on with voice commands.

After the show it was confirmed that the Xbox One will not be backwards compatible and will not need to be ‘always online’. I’m not sure how I feel about backwards compatibility, it always sounds like a nice idea but I never use it on any of the consoles I have.

Media Services

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I’m sure no-one was looking forward to media announcements, but there were some big ones. First and foremost, Microsoft seem to have made the interface much snappier and if it does really work like that, it will be a viable replacement for the array of different boxes you may have in your living room. I personally loved the ability to multitask and switch between different kinds of media on the fly. There was also a mention of matchmaking in games while you play/watch something else which is a brilliant idea as long as the technology behind the fast switching works.

Other than that we got lots of sports features which I understand very little of, and the huge announcement of a ‘Premium’ Halo TV series that has something to do with Spielberg. It’d be nice if he was directing but it could just be an ‘executive producer’ style deal (which means he did nothing but give money or his name to the project). Whatever the truth is, at least it’s a sign of quality and after the excellent Forward unto Dawn series, it’ll be a blast I’m sure. I’m less excited about the mention of it being ‘premium’ as that word was dropped in as if it was unimportant. We’ll be paying for this, or possibly getting it free with an Xbox Live subscription.

The Games

As expected, there was little in the way of games. We had a quick look at Forza, Madden, Fifa, UFC, NBA and Call of Duty. In the background in many scenes was also something that looked a lot like a kind of ‘Kameo’ world…

Most of the game footage wasn’t in-game so it’s hard to tell what any of those games will look like, Forza in particular set the benchmark for trailers so high very early on that the latest one didn’t look all that impressive. Call of Duty showed a lot more off, and while it still seems to be ‘more Call of Duty’ which could be a good or bad thing depending on your viewpoint, the graphics were reasonably important if they have it running at 60fps on a console. They didn’t confirm 1080p but still, it was up there with some high-end PC releases at the moment (Crysis 3 and Metro: Last Light) so what more can you ask for?

There was also a surprise announcement from Remedy, of Quantum Break. It’s hard to know what to make of it so far but the use of live-action video was a little jarring. Remedy have a decent track record so it’ll be one to look out for at E3.

Conclusion

Overall, I was really happy with that announcement. The console itself looks brilliant, we got a few confirmations, a couple of surprises and I’ve already sized up where on our entertainment centre the Xbox One is going to sit. We’ll bring you more news and developments as we get them in the build up to E3.

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