Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Microsoft Unveils Xbox One

As promised, Microsoft has finally unveiled the next Xbox, that won't be called Xbox 720 as some were counting on but goes back to the beginning, marking a new era: the new Xbox is the Xbox One. The presentation felt kind of weird - leaving more questions than answers, and showing just about what was already expected - leaving me (and other) wondering why MS decided to do this at this moment, when it ends up promising to show much more less than 3 weeks from now on the Xbox event at E3.

So... what can we expect from the new Xbox?

TV Integration

As expected, the new Xbox tries to become you main hub at home for all content, and that means you can/should connect your set-top box to it, allowing you to access tv guides and change channels via voice, open up internet explorer to browse the web while watching TV, and even do group videochat using Skype. The TV integration might be nice... but I doubt it will work as well as advertised in countries other than the USA...

More so, in this day and age, one would expect the Xbox One to become the set-top box, and serve as the main video-access device, instead of relying on the "old TV" system.

The Xbox ONE

As for the new Xbox One itself, it's as powerful as you'd expect: a 8 core CPU, 8GB RAM, 500GB hard drive, blu-ray, WiFi N and WiFI direct, HDMI In/Out, USB 3.0. Things now happen instantly, as the Xbox One is running three operating systems side by side: the Xbox OS, a Windows 8 kernel, and the third one manages the interaction between the two.

The One can now create amazing FullHD high-end graphics, far above what was possible in the previous Xbox - bringing console gaming to the level high-end PC gamers have been enjoying lately. You get nice things like instant on/off gaming, video game recording and sharing (nothing that you haven't seen on the PS4 announcement as well) and unfortunately like the PS4... you also lose compatibility with the old Xbox 360 games.

New Kinect

As expected, we also get a new Kinect, which now will come as standard with every Xbox. You get a 1080p camera, but most importantly you get a true 3D time-of-flight camera (remember when in the pre-Kinect era I hoped it used a time-of-flight camera? Nearly four years later... they did!).

The new Kinect can now detect people with far greater accuracy, detecting even arms, legs, head rotation; recognizing gamers; estimating muscle usage; and even read your hear rate! It really is a great piece of technology, and let's hope this time MS realizes the gold mine they have here... and deploy it as a standard accessory for any and all computer devices (at an "unbeatable" price).

New Game Controller

If you though the Xbox 360 controller was great, the Xbox One's are even better. The battery is now less intrusive, and you get force feedback on the trigger buttons as well. From what we can tell, communication will now be done over WiFi Direct.


For a game console, MS didn't seem to give this Xbox One unveiling enough gaming time. In fact, we got no actual gameplay footage at all. We got some nice cinematics - real-time rendered - but not what everyone hoped to see. EA showed their EA Sports line up (FIFA, Madden NFL, NBA Live, and UFC); more to my liking we saw a short teaser for the new and much improved Forza 5 (Weeeee! :) as well as a strange live-action series and game mix called Quantum Break... But a Xbox event couldn't leave out Halo, right?

There's a new Halo live action series coming, and Steven Spielberg is on board. That's amazing news... but just like before, there were nothing to show... yet.

Call of Duty Ghosts

One of the games that was expected to be seen was the new Call of Duty Ghosts, and we got to see just how much things evolved. With "before/after" comparisons, and highly detailed models, landscapes and carachters... (but if you're used to high-end PC gaming... nothing you haven't seen already).

Again, even though we saw the first trailer (supposedly running on a Xbox One) we didn't get to see any real live game play.


Though I'm a Xbox fan, I couldn't help but feel disappointed by this Xbox reveal. Sure, the Xbox One is great, and we'll finally have console games that can rival PC gaming. But...that's just what we would expect of it. Microsoft seems to be focusing more on the "media-centric" part of the Xbox, treating games as "the other stuff it can do", while it should probably be doing the opposite. In that sense, I think Sony did a better job at the PS4 unveiling.

Both next-gen consoles will be quite similar in graphics power, and the choice between one or the other will be harder than ever. Maybe exclusives will help people decide, and MS has 15 exclusive titles being developer right now for the Xbox One.

Guess we'll have to wait till the E3, and hope to see some actual games on the Xbox One - while on Sony's side, they'll be preparing their great big unveiling as we'll get to know how the PS4 will look like on June 10th.

[photos via The Verge]

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