Our Daily Beard
Well, I can’t really avoid it: let’s have a nosey at Xbox One.
Did you watch the live reveal?
I did, though I switched off when the sports started happening and I realised I really, really wanted to have my turkey dinosaurs.
I’ve decided to relate the facts and give my insight at the same time. So…
This is clearly the big marketing catchphrase of the Xbox One. Microsoft are pitching it as a device to tidy up and unite the living room’s devices. That means that X1 will do not just games but Skype, sports, music, TV and social stuff.
“Xbox One is designed to deliver a whole new generation of blockbuster games, television and entertainment in a powerful, all-in-one device,” said Don Mattrick, president, Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft. “Our unique, modern architecture brings simplicity to the living room and, for the first time ever, the ability to instantly switch across your games and entertainment.”
From what we’ve seen, Microsoft are hoping that we’ll buy the X1 on the strength that it can multitask. You can switch between TV and games at the press of a button, just like someone with a remote control can do. You can use voice commands to change TV channels. Okay, that’s very handy, if you have whatever special set-top box is required… and if you keep your Xbox on all the time. On that note, the company is proud of the fact that X1 can turn on instantly and download your updates and such in the background. Long story short: you don’t have to keep the device and internet connection ‘always on’, but they really, really want you to. Voice detection will be done via the bundled Kinect. Some are unhappy about being forced to buy a Kinect and I can sympathise, but I think it was inevitable. It’s just annoying if you only want to play games and don’t care about the fancy schmancy.
So we have a box that can do multiple things at once, if you really want to watch a movie and talk to someone or play a game and watch TV (why?!). You can even access ‘Trending’ to see what other users are watching and playing!
Gee, thanks! It’s not marketing at all, it’s a handy new service!
Please take all my personal usage data and process it into a series of adverts! Orwell DID warn us about having always-on, networked cameras in every home, did he not?
So: it does lots of cool multimedia stuff. Okay, fine, I do like the convenience- it’s like having a little media PC in the living room, only now instead of 10 years ago. But will it… you know… play games?
Well, the specs are pretty decent (though PC purists will scoff, no doubt). Same number of cores and gigs of RAM as the PS4. There are subtle differences such as RAM speed but I think they’ll even out in practise. What they do suggest is a wave of next-gen games.
Apparently ‘gaming on Xbox One immerses gamers in cinematic worlds that look like real life, with characters that feel more human than ever before.’ They also said that we can expect ‘visuals so real, you’ll see imperfections and the effects of time, weather and wear and tear on the world around you.’ Well, we shall see. It’s quite a claim and it’s really down to the game makers as much as hardware. Anyway, at least we know that the next-gen games will be pretty, if nothing else.
So what games have been announced so far? Let’s face it, the titles are the top reason to buy any new consoles.
Forza Motorsport 5. This has been made for X1 and… I don’t know… it has fast cars that look like real cars.
FIFA 14, Madden something, NBA 14, oh, Christ, some sports stuff. EA had a field day at the reveal, telling us all about their new ways for you to emulate playing sports. It’s so realistic, you’ll feel just like you’re not sitting on your behind playing imaginary football instead of being outside playing football. Honestly, I don’t understand this stuff. I got into gaming because I couldn’t do sports and see no reason for Venn diagram to intersect on me now.
Call of Duty: Ghosts. Yay, another COD… I suppose. All new characters and story (phew) and more realistic terrorists to splatter for Uncle Sam. This should be good- an FPS is far more interesting to me than sports. With all the new tech, it should feel very immersive.
Quantum Break. Made by Remedy Entertainment (Max Payne and Alan Wake) looks very interesting indeed. I love their storytelling to bits, but the ‘revolutionary entertainment experience’ being suggested here is a little suspect. Basically: TV show meets game, with the two media playing off each other seamlessly and not at all clumsily, honest. This is already being done by the about-to-flop Defiance. Since I love their stories, this is the only reason that I’m interested in X1 at all- and I’m not even sure about it.
Speaking of TV and Games meeting as once, they announced that Speilberg will be producing a Halo live-action series. Okay, that could be cool. There’s not much sign of a flagship Halo game yet, but one is inevitable, like the crushing desolation of time.
Smart Match. A new Smart Match matchmaking system blah blah better matches for online games, if you’re that bothered about picking the right 14-year-old Japanese kid to embarrass you.
Game DVR. Record bits of your games and share with mates. Okay, that could be fun- I’d have spent hours making humorous videos if this had been out when I was a teenager.
Living Games. Apparently ‘Dynamic, living worlds evolve and improve the more you play, and advanced artificial intelligence can learn to play like you, so friends can play against your shadow.’ I think this has something to do with the cloud and having games respond to trends in your gameplay. I dunno, could be good.
Expanded achievements. Yay, more ways to show off how much time you’ve wasted playing computer games. I got all the hidden gems in blah blah 7, but I still can’t find a friend.
Xbox SmartGlass. Mutlitasking again. Until a game arrives that somehow uses your tablet or phone, I’m not interested. Could the X1 send you little texts when your character gets a text in a game? Or could you use a phone as a temporary extra joypad for gaming parties? Oh, memories of micro machines…
Blu-ray. Because obviously.
Kinect. It’s better, apparently. I was pretty happy with the motion stuff already- what matters to me is that it can work in a smaller, non-rich-American living room. There are some vague rumblings to that effect. Don’t get me wrong, technological improvements are important. For example, it can do wrist motions, so that instantly creates far more options for new Kinect games.
Gamepad. It’s a bit prettier and sleeker. The pad will sync with the Kinect so that the Xbox knows if you’re gesturing mid-game, or throwing the pad at the wall in frustration. The PS4 has the same feature. It sounds like the triggers will vibrate too… not sure what that’s meant to simulate that vibration doesn’t already cover.
Games registered to accounts. Yes, even hardcopy games will be registered to your account, so that you can’t lend games to mates without paying more. Same goes for second hand games, apparently. This news is actually fairly massive- but details are too thin on the ground to be sure how it’ll work and just how screwed small game shops will be.
Oh wait, forgot to say it’s ugly:
At first I thought it looked pretty smart, but each time I see it, I just see less console of tomorrow and more 1970s VCR.
Also, this is funny: Sony’s shares went up right after the announcement.
Let’s hope for some more promising things at E3.