Call me an optimist. Okay, call be a idiot fanboy, blindly following Microsoft into consumer rights hell. Either way, I'm still going to try to look forward to Xbox One. I have to. For the sake of continuing doing what I do.
By Tony Walter | May 26, 2013
Don't get me wrong, Microsoft dropped the ball at that announcement. It felt like the conference that should have been two years post-launch. The one where they have all the base audience sold (the people who play video games). And they're trying to sell the last few parents who don't quite get why their kid needs the new Xbox. But instead this was the console announcement. The audience that really, really cares about a console launch announcement is niche. The audience that cares enough to watch the conference live is even more niche. And the audience that's willing to do that at noon on a Tuesday - well, I doubt it broke any viewing records. This should have been catered toward that tiny demographic. The fans so passionate they're willing to miss work just to see the next video game system teased.
|Personally, I love the new design of the console. I'm sick of curved edges and bizarre non-shapes. Give me something that will match the rest of my entertainment center.|
10. Game DVRHardly revolutionary at this point. It's commonplace in some gaming communities. And, even Sony announced something similar built-in back during the PlayStation 4 announcement. But, it is still good news. Being able to easily record footage from games and upload it to - well, they haven't really been explicit about that. But, still good news. Especially for folks, like me, who would love to cover games in all possible ways.
9. Smart MatchRemember last time you played Halo 4 with a group of strangers? Remember how quickly before you found yourself reaching for the mute button - if you even had voice chat on to begin with? The online community in multiplayer games is, sadly, the number one reason I find myself avoiding playing my games online. This isn't to say that nobody playing these games are decent humans, it's just that they're really, really, really rare. If Smart Match - a mysterious system that uses mathematics to pair up like-minded players - means less prepubescents tossing out derogatory terms via my headset, I'm in.
8. Low Power
The system runs on less power than the Xbox 360 does. What does this mean? Well, other than a smaller electric bill, this carries a few benefits. First of all, less power means less heat. With less heat, you're less in need of fans. With less fans comes less noise. I run a pretty tight ship here, I regularly clean my system (highly recommend a twice-a-year system cleaning with compressed air) and I install all of my games, so I'm not dealing with struggling fans or spinning DVDs, but quieter is better regardless. More importantly though, less heat means a generally more stable system. After the Xbox 360's massive hardware issues, I'm sure Microsoft was sure to build more stable hardware. Beyond this, low power encourages you to leave your system on. Leaving the system on at all times means less time booting up, and possible smart updates/downloads (i.e.: things will happen when you aren't using it).
7. Kinect Improvements
I've never owned a Kinect. I live in a somewhat small apartment, and really none of the games appealed to me beyond a few minutes of silly fun. The Kinect limited itself with steep environmental requirements, and some dysfunctional software. Well, that's the impression you'd get from most of the games. Point is, with more widespread access, and better technology (they say it will work in smaller rooms now), developers will be more likely to incorporate the thing in interesting ways. Hopefully that evolves beyond just menu control.
|I have a personal affinity for the cohereancy in design philosphy. Black boxes match my TV, my entertainment center, my Blu-ray player, and hopefully my PlayStation 4. Listening, Sony?|
6. Built-in 500GB HDD
Okay, it might seem silly for me to get excited about this, because in a lot of ways it is still really limited. 500GB doesn't seem like a lot for the long haul, especially after installing all games, and if you think about the generation lasting as long as it has this time around. But, with some amount of innate internal storage, developers will no longer have to rely on multiple disc switches to get you through their games. And the thing has a USB 3.0 port for external storage, so if you need more, it's still an option. Keep in mind, we might be better off this way, just take a look at what they charged for the Xbox 360's storage options.
5. Speedy UI
One thing I was able to catch while Microsoft was showing off a bunch of stuff that wasn't video games, was the UI. Now this might not seem like the most important thing in the world, but frankly the Xbox 360 has struggled with efficient UI design since conception. It's gotten gradually better, but never quite got the snap that you'd want. The Xbox One looked much quicker in this regard. And with the layers of operation systems that were talked about during the technical interview after the main conference, it sounds like multitasking is much less complicated. Don't expect to have to turn off your games to watch the latest episode of Daily Show.
|There are theories that we have movies like The Minority Report to blame for the way modern UI is designed around being able to move things with your fingertips.|
4. General Game Improvements
Obviously, with stronger technology comes bigger, prettier games. And while that's exciting in its own regard, the truly interesting improvements are something more integrated in design. Much like some of my favorite announcements during the Playstation 4 conference, these were things that make video games easier to play, and generally more accessible. Things like save states, that will allow you to save your progress wherever you are in a game. Or, the ability to play games while they're being installed to your system. These are small improvements, and they're the sort of things we will take for granted, but the best things usually are.
3. Xbox Live Improvements
Xbox Live is getting better. Seems like any aspect of Xbox Live, other than the questionable fees, that has been complained about, is being addressed. Need more than a hundred friends? How about a thousand!? Achievements are being revamped in an interesting way too. Now developers will have full control, even after a game is released. Perhaps Halo 5 is running a special event next weekend, and if you show up both days, guess what? Achievement. It's possibly the revitalization that Achievements were in need of. And don't worry, your Gamertag and Gamescore will both come with you to the new Xbox Live.
2. Controller Redesigned
The new Xbox One controller contains some forty improvements over its Xbox 360 counterpart. Improvements include things like a fleshed-out d-pad, rumble installed in the triggers, more accurate joysticks, recessed storage for batteries, slicker design (hidden screws, smaller handles), quicker wireless communication with console, and better ergonomic design. This is another case of lots of small improvements. But, when you consider most of your time spent with Xbox One will likely be spent holding this controller, it being well-designed is very significant. And it's good to hear that Microsoft is looking to fight to keep its title of 'best controller'.
|I am disappointed that the controller doesn't appear to be rechargeable. Looks like I'll be buying recharegable batteries. Are they still as worthless as they were when I was a kid?|
1. The Games, Duh
So, the conference didn't focus on games. They were barely mentioned. And honestly, a lot of the exciting news came from Twitter after the conference. Sure, a new Forza game is great news. The Forza franchise has always been my personal favorite for that style of racing game. But more exciting is news that stuff like Remedy is making a new game for Xbox One, even though we have next to no information on it. And, it's pretty exciting that games like Watch Dogs, Thief, and Destiny will be there too, though this was pretty obvious. I've heard interesting things about Techland's new zombie game, Dying Light, as well. Personally most exciting though, is that Rare will be announcing the return of a "classic" franchise to the Xbox One at E3. The hypothesis going around now is Killer Instinct, with some earlier trademark news this year. And really, what else does Rare still have that's classic? I doubt we're talking about a Captain Skyhawk reboot.
|Not sure how I feel about the new box design, but I'm ready to make the transition to all-digital anyway.|
Look, I get it. Microsoft messed up the reveal. But, regardless of what your buddy told you about their stocks, it doesn't mean that they're in any real trouble (stocks always fluctuate wildly after these sorts of conferences). The conference was bad, and maybe luckily, the general public wasn't paying much attention. There are still plenty of reasons to be interested in Xbox One, and that doesn't mean you have to quit being excited about PlayStation 4. And keep in mind, E3 is right around the corner. They heard the complaints, and they have more reason to knock it out of the park there than ever before.
Maybe I'm just easy to please. But, fuck, I'm ready for new consoles.