It’s May 21, and Microsoft has just unveiled its next-generation console. The Xbox One is on its way.
In development for several years at Microsoft, the Xbox One is the company’s answer to the need for next-generation hardware. Inside the system, Xbox One is powered by the following components:
- An 8-core CPU
- 8 gigabytes of system memory
- A 500-gigabyte non-removable hard drive
- A Blu-ray drive
- 802.11n wireless support with Wi-Fi Direct
- HDMI input/output
- USB 3.0 ports
In addition, the console sports a redesigned controller and an enhanced Kinect sensor. The controller, seen above, largely features the same buttons and triggers as the Xbox 360 controller, with four face buttons, two diagonally placed analog sticks, two shoulder buttons, two shoulder triggers, a directional pad, start / select buttons, and an Xbox Guide button. However, several of these have been updated for Xbox One– the d-pad, widely criticized on the 360 controller, has been fine-tuned to work better than before, while the controller’s triggers provide different feedback depending on what game genre is being played. The Guide button has also seemingly been redesigned as a Guide “pad” of sorts, and moved farther to the top of the controller. On the other hand, the enhanced Kinect sensor features enhanced voice and motion recognition, and features a 1080p camera that can be used for games and applications. Both the new controller and the new Kinect will be included with the Xbox One, and are required to be connected at all times for the system to operate.
In terms of new features software-side, an add-on to the One – sold separately – allows for live television integration. This will allow users to switch between playing a game to watching television in an instant, and switch back without having to mess with TV remotes or switching the TV’s inputs. Apps such as Internet Explorer and Skype (with group call functionality) can be opened simultaneously while playing a game or watching a movie, and be viewed side-by-side via Snap, a feature first seen in the Windows 8 operating system. Using their hands in conjunction with the Kinect sensor, users can expand an app or game to be viewed across the whole screen, or minimize them so they’re shown alongside another app.
The One is not backwards compatible with Xbox 360 or Xbox Live Arcade titles, but players’ Gamerscore from Xbox 360 and Games for Windows Live will transfer over to the new console, as will their avatars. Xbox Live will now be cloud-based, powered by 300,000 servers, and will utilize the same subscription model as it has on the 360. Achievements will now be more dynamic, with publishers being able to make alterations and additions based on player behavior and trends at any time. In addition, the friends list has been multiplied by ten to allow up to 1,000 friends to be added.
Despite rumors to the contrary, the Xbox One will not require an always-on internet connection… but there are strings attached nonetheless. An internet connection will be required to use the system, and even players who only play single-player games will be required to connect every 24 hours due to cloud-based services. In addition, Microsoft has confirmed that all disc-based games must be installed to the hard drive, and “permission” to play the games will be locked to one Xbox Live account at a time. Players who wish to activate them on another user account (i.e. bringing the game to a friend’s house, or buying a used copy of a game) will have to pay a fee to do so – possibly equal to the cost of the game, though exact pricing details have yet to be revealed. If this indeed turns out to be the case, then the Xbox One could pose a major threat to the used gaming market, or at the very least deal a significant blow to it.
In terms of games, today’s conference was light on content. Forza Motorsport 5 and a new game by Remedy Entertainment – creators of Alan Wake – titled Quantum Break were revealed, and the new Xbox will continue to see timed exclusivity for Call of Duty: Ghosts downloadable content. Four EA Sports games will be coming to the One this year: FIFA 14, Madden 25, UFC, and NBA Live 14. Post-conference, it was revealed that Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag and Watch_Dogs, Eidos Montreal’s Thief, EA DICE’s Battlefield 4, and Bungie’s Destiny will all be coming to the One. Microsoft has promised that their E3 conference – scheduled for June 10 at 12:30 PM EST – will be all about the games: there will be 15 first-party exclusives coming to the One within the first year alone, and 8 of those will be all-new IPs. In addition, Phil Spencer – the Corporate Vice President at Microsoft Studios – has said to Polygon that Rare, the creators of Banjo-Kazooie, Perfect Dark, Killer Instinct, Kinect Sports, and Conker, will be displaying one of their “historic” IPs at the event.
Today’s conference also revealed a new Halo TV series directed by Steven Spielberg, as well as an exclusive partnership between Microsoft and the NFL to bring new sports content to Xbox Live.
The Xbox One will be released before the end of 2013. No pricing details or more specific release date information is known at this time.
Source: Xbox One Event