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We have waited months and after numerous rumors about what’s next for Xbox as Microsoft finally reveals their next generation system from their campus at Redmond, WA. Xbox President Don Mattrick comes to the stage at the start of the press conference to announce the name of the new system and it was a name no one guessed: Xbox One. Xbox One is Microsoft’s way of saying that we are releasing an “all in one” console as if they are going to change the living room space once again. This has been teased for the last couple of years of the Xbox 360’s lifespan with more focus on entertainment (TV, movies, music) besides games in terms of Microsoft’s vision. After today, the vision gap regarding the next generation of consoles has widened with Microsoft’s Xbox One and Sony’s Playstation 4.
After announcing the name of the new Xbox, Mattrick wasted no time revealing the console itself along with the new Kinect camera and controller (pictured above). The controller, personally to me, looks like a hybrid of the old Xbox controller and the current 360 controller, but luckily it wasn't drastically changed since the 360 controller is still pretty good. The dashboard is pretty much identical to what we see on the Xbox 360 currently, but one of the big focuses with the Xbox One, is switching between games, TV, movies, Internet Explorer, and music at an instant. Voice commands and gestures are becoming more of a big deal thanks to the new Kinect as it was demonstrated during this presser. The TV aspect of this is actually live TV, but details about how this works and whether or not you need a cable box to make this work have not been mentioned yet.
Skype functionality was announced for the Xbox One, which is not surprising considering Microsoft and Skype have a big partnership going. Watching sports on Xbox has been improved as well with stat and fantasy updates being accessed by simple voice commands. Xbox One Guide was also announced to check what’s on TV for a variety of channels, similar to what you check on your cable box. From the first few minutes, you can tell that Microsoft’s “All in one” approach to the next generation is a big deal besides being just another game console.
Marc Whitten was next on the stage to talk more about the Xbox One’s architecture and specs. No longer going the DVD drive route, the new Xbox now has a blu-ray drive along with 8 GB of system memory, a 500 GB hard drive, and more pictured above. The new Kinect camera will come with every Xbox One, which was expected considering the original’s failures on the 360. Cloud storage is also another big focus with the Xbox One for games, movies, etc. Whitten also briefly mentioned about the achievements system being changed a bit and matchmaking improvements.
After about a half hour talking about the Xbox One’s dashboard and specs, it is to finally talk about games as EA Sports’s Andrew Wilson comes to the stage to talk what EA’s sports games will look one on the new Xbox. He briefly announced a “strategic partnership” with Microsoft that more will be addressed at a later time. Four EA Sports games were revealed for the Xbox One: FIFA ‘14, Madden NFL 25, NBA Live ‘14, and the new UFC game with the new “Ignite” engine. A montage of the games was also shown, but if the first footage of Madden ‘06 on Xbox 360 back in 2005 was any indication, this montage was not in-game and more CG. Microsoft and EA also announced Xbox exclusivity for Ultimate Team mode for FIFA ‘14, which is big for fans of the most popular sports franchise today.
Phil Spencer from Microsoft Game Studios next announces two exclusive Xbox One games for its launch window. First up is Forza Motorsport 5 by Turn 10 Studios, which you can see above. Other than the trailer, no details on what’s new with Forza were not announced yet, but it is planning to be released day and date with the Xbox One’s launch. Next up is the latest from Remedy, the makers of the Alan Wake franchise, as they showed off a new IP called Quantum Break. Like Alan Wake, expect top notch storytelling and amazing graphics with this original title slated for the console’s launch window. Spencer also announced that 15 games with Microsoft Game Studios are planned to be released within the Xbox One’s first year and eight of them are new franchises.
The shift goes back to TV as Nancy Tellem from Xbox Entertainment Studios was next to announce new partnerships. She introduces Bonnie Ross, head of 343 Industries, to share what’s next with the Halo franchise. While it is not Halo 5, probably a good thing for now, 343 has announced a Halo live action television series and Steven Spielberg is involved in the project coming soon. Remember when Peter Jackson was gonna be involved in a Halo-related project? Well that didn't pan out and luckily Spielberg is the next best thing for this live action series to work. The other major TV partnership that was announced is with the NFL. This new partnership is planned to change the way we watch football games with Kinect, Smartglass integration, and more.
As the conference came to a close, Mattrick returned to the stage to recap the announcements for the Xbox One and announced that the console will be released later this year. That is not a specific window, but let’s just say it is coming out this fall. The closer was not surprisingly Call of Duty: Ghosts by Activision and Infinity Ward. Honestly, too much time was spent on how Call of Duty has been shaping up so far for the next generation from a developer diary talking about how they are attempting to reinvent the series to a comparison video with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. After those clips were shown, the highly anticipated reveal trailer, available below to watch, was next and the highlight of all this whole Call of Duty segment was the addition of a dog companion. As with past Call of Duty releases, downloadable content will be available first on Xbox Live for Ghosts.
From the beginning of the conference, Microsoft is obviously taking care of all its entertainment-related announcements and saving the games for E3 next month. Honestly, I wasn't surprised they went this route for the new console reveal because this is the vision they have been standing by for multiple years now. As always with these console reveal events, the big information was announced off-stream concerning backwards compatibility, Xbox Live accounts transferring over, the friends limit now being 1000 people, and confirming there’s no always online connectivity with the system. Sure, the lack of games shown today is not a good look especially compared to Sony’s Playstation 4 unveiling, but Microsoft can redeem themselves at E3 by just showing games proving that they still care for the core gaming audience at their big press conference. At this point, if you’re looking to buy a console that does everything, get the Xbox One, but if you’re looking just to play games, looks like Playstation 4 is the one to get. Did Microsoft impress you enough at today’s Xbox One announcement? Let us know in the comments below.