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Microsoft Unveils Xbox One

/ Jun 4th, 2013 No Comments

Xbox One Backwards Compatibility

Xbox One

Xbox One

Xbox One was the big announcement out of Microsoft‘s May 21 press conference. Microsoft made the formal unveiling of their next gen console, the Xbox One (XO). Low and behold it was greeted with staunch criticism from the majority of the gaming world. As unfortunate as things are these days when a brand new, incredibly powerful gaming console is ripped apart before anyone even sees a single game played, it most likely has more to do with presentation and not so much with actual substance. Whether or not any of the major gaming companies will ever get an unveiling right is something yet to be seen, but that is neither the reason for this article nor something we should hold against the actual product. So let us all take a deep breath, keep in mind that E3 is just around the corner, and let us break this bad boy down to see exactly what Microsoft is offering for the future of gaming.

“What’s in the box?!? WHAT’S IN THE BOX?!?!”

[adsense250itp]In regards to the actual hardware, Xbox One comes with a similar set up as Sony’s PS4, but here are the actual specs.

• 8 GB System Memory
• 8 Core Microsoft Custom CPU
• 500 GB Hard Drive
• Blu-ray Drive
• 802.11n Wireless with Wi-Fi Direct
• HDMI In/Out
• USB 3.0
• Gigabit Ethernet

The Xbox One will also feature a new and improved controller design that touts a sleeker more functional button layout. As well, it features a programmable trigger feedback system, which will help add to the overall immersive experience for each game. As if that was not enough, Microsoft has decided to bundle the revamped Kinect 2.0 with the system as a means to streamline the user interface and ring in a new era of how people navigate the system menu via use of motion control and vocal cues. If Microsoft can somehow keep the price tag moderately low (they have yet to release a price) on all this new and improved hardware, then so far things are looking up for the future of gaming. However, to fully grasp what gamers around the world are going to be getting with the Xbox One, let us take a look at some of the highlighted features from the system’s unveiling.

The Good

Xbox One Controller

Xbox One Controller

It’s pretty much a given that with faster and more powerful processing power next gen systems are going to be rife with some cool new features, and the Xbox One is certainly no exception to this rule. Stocked with an 8 core processing powerhouse, the XO will have the ability for some serious multitasking between games, TV, web browsing, and even Skype calls. One of the more promising aspects of this is now gamers will have the option to load up and play several games at one time, seamlessly switching between each game without having to pause or save and exit. A new button has been added to the middle of the XO controller to facilitate this function and hopefully will provide a quick and efficient user interface.

Xbox One Snap Mode

Xbox One Snap Mode

Another neat aspect of the Xbox One that has the gaming world abuzz is the new Snap Mode. This forward thinking new feature pushes multitasking even further with the ability to open up a dedicated split screen for secondary functions, while not interrupting the main action taking place. In other words, say a player and a friend are tearing it up online in a run through of the upcoming Bungie title Destiny, and chatting over headphones just is not cutting it anymore. Thanks to Snap Mode it does not have to. Just send a Skype request to the brother in battle, and a split screen on the right side of the screen will pop up and put the gamer face to face with his/her pwng pal for a more personal co-op experience. Of course this feature applies to all functions of the XO, so system owners will be masterfully building an epic to-scale model of the Millennium Falcon in Minecraft, while browsing his/her favorite cat pictures on the web in no time!

Most importantly, let us not forget probably the coolest and seemingly most underrated aspect of the Xbox One. Something that was moderately touched on in the press release, but a primary aspect that ultimately that will make or break this powerful gaming console… and that mystery element is…GAMES!!! Bigger, better, more immersive games. Yes, it is those things that spurned on numerous other generations of GAMING consoles and the primary driving force for the GAMING industry itself. Some interesting titles have officially been announced for the XO’s launch, notably Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, Battlefield 4, Destiny, Watch Dogs, and of course Call of Duty: Ghosts. However unfortunately for us all, not a whole lot of these games were actually shown (aside from some fish and a dog…Alright!) but as was previously stated, E3 is coming up so Microsoft will likely dazzle us all then. Hopefully…maybe… It is so hard to tell these days.

THE BAD

When a company makes a decision to premiere their next generation video game console, but then decides to focus on every feature other than the actual games that will be played, there certainly is going to be cause for concern. Sure the XO has a lot of cool new ways to watch TV, surf the web, and Skype with friends using voice command and the flick of a wrist, but what about the main reason for its existence? Playing video games? It is absolutely understandable that Microsoft is trying to bolster its relevancy and sales through integrating the various different forms of media into one system, but fears are circulating that the focus is drifting further away from core gamers, and more to the casual market.

Speaking of the cool new uses for voice command and motion control as means of navigating through the XO’s interface means there might be a price to pay. The new and improved Kinect 2.0 is capable of detecting movement and depth better than before, so much so that it now can measure everything from heart rates to facial expressions. Now pair that with the rumors that all Xbox One consoles must be connected to the internet at all times and the fact that the XO will never truly shut down, only idle in sleep mode, and there is one heck of a potential for espionage on a global scale. Of course, Microsoft has since released statements quelling the idea that they would ever use the XO for such devious means, but ultimately it may not be such a bad idea to have a lens cover for the Kinect available.

Another aspect of the XO that has the gaming community up in arms is the aforementioned policy of mandatory internet connection for gaming use. Not only does this set a dangerous precedence in terms of limiting the consumer abilities of how, when, and where they can play their games, but it also limits exactly who can enjoy playing the next generation of games. More importantly, who cannot. Again, Microsoft has since back peddled a bit in terms of this policy stating that they will only require the XO to be connected to the internet once in any 24 hour period, only to back pedal some more and say that nothing has been finalized. Bottom line, no one really knows as of yet how this will play out, but it is something definitely worth monitoring.

The Greedy?

The Ever Watchful Kinect 2.0

The Ever Watchful Kinect 2.0

With the release of the XO just on the horizon, people may be considering turning in their older gaming consoles in order to cut down the cost of what is sure to be a relatively expensive investment. However, gamers may not want to trade in that Xbox 360 just yet. The XO will have no backward compatibility meaning gone are the days of being able to play a back collection of older games on a new system. Microsoft has taken the stance that in order to fully utilize the technology of the future they cannot waste a single unit of processing power on playing games of the past. A very solid stance and theory, however it probably would be a bit more convincing had they actually made an attempt at displaying more of these powerful games of the future at the press conference.

Perhaps the most glaring and disheartening feature of the XO will be how all games are installed and tracked upon purchase. All new games will need to be downloaded to the system’s hard drive before being able to play, and after installation is complete, the tracking code of that particular copy will be assigned to that account. This means if anyone else wants to play that certain copy of the game, they will need to pay a fee (rumored to be set at retail price) before the game is once again downloaded to another individual’s account. Due to all of the prevalent issues of piracy, it is absolutely understandable that companies will take the necessary steps to protect their IP. What Microsoft is doing with this new way of restricting game distribution will forever change the way that business is done, for better or for worse.

Overall, as with most things in life, people need to take the good with the bad. Microsoft is adopting some very forward thinking concepts with the Xbox One, not only with the consoles many features and applications, but also in how the actual merchandise will be protected and distributed. How this shift in the gaming industry pans out is something yet to be seen. One thing is for sure though – perhaps just maybe we should all wait and see what an actual game looks like on this next gen console before we grab the pitchforks and light the torches.

Tommy Blashaw

Tommy Blashaw

Contributor at Gaming Illustrated
Tommy B. has over 23 years of gaming experience and has been apart of the evolution of gaming since he could pick up an Atari joystick. He has watched gaming trends come and go and has joined GI in order to accurately depict the latest happenings in the world of gaming with one goal in mind: Tell it like it is.
Tommy Blashaw

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