Focusing on emerging technologies, Microsoft’s current version of the Xbox platform has changed the way we interact with our gaming consoles. Playing host to high definition gaming for the first time in history, the Xbox 360 has made more revolutions than any generation of console in our lifetimes. The coming generation of Xbox breaks through into the future in an even more radical way.
Foregoing the traditional slam of gaming titles which we are all used to seeing with a console launch, Microsoft put the heart of your console’s diversity on display here today. Fantastic features are coming such as Live TV integration, split screen activity while in-game or watching a movie, and Skype voice and video chat in place of the former “party chat” system of the current generation.
If you’re like most tech-savvy users today, your Xbox console isn’t the only device you’re using when you sit down in your home to enjoy a piece of media – be that a game, TV series or a movie. With Microsoft’s next Xbox, the Xbox One, deciding between your favorite show and looking something up online isn’t limited to pulling out a laptop or a tablet any longer. Imagine watching the newest season of your favorite TV series and you’re interested to see what other shows the lead actress plays in – bring up your Internet Explorer in split-screen and look her up on IMDB live, as you never miss a beat of the show.
Microsoft didn’t stop short on it’s programming available for the system at launch either. With the connection between your TV and Xbox becoming more synergized, and cable TV making its move toward internet-based viewing, Microsoft has partnered with cable providers, as well as stations to give you the best experience possible. Hosting their own TV guide, you can now use the Xbox One Guide to view all of the programming available from your compatible television provider, but that’s not all.
Speaking with the commissioner of the NFL, Microsoft has now secured the rights to the NFL on Xbox One. Featuring Fantasy Football synchronization that plays out live as the game is run on your screen. In the same note, TV network ESPN jumped on the bandwagon with their programming and fantasy sports features as well. Sports enthusiasts will fall in love with the Xbox One, and though you may not be an enthusiast, odds are the sell to your family may come easier with the package in tow.
Was Microsoft done with their television programming yet? No. Original programming through the Xbox 360 is coming. Even as services like Amazon and Netflix are only beginning with their own original programming, Microsoft, in partnership with 343 Studios is bringing the Halo series to the small screen. Produced by the highly acclaimed Steven Spielberg, the upcoming Halo series will be exclusively available on Xbox One as a part of their strong push to bring your living room — games, television and social interaction — into one space.
Of course Microsoft didn’t want to leave the core of the Xbox in the wake of it’s One console, and games played as prominent a role as ever in this presser. Beginning with the hardware aspect of it’s Xbox One console, the version has made many notable improvements over the last generation that were not packed in under the hood.
First of many improvements to the hardware, the Xbox controller has been yet again redesigned for the next generation. Working with an all-new, hopefully functional directional-pad, as well as redesigned joysticks and “dynamic impulse” triggers, the next generation controller paired in with the One should play more easily to the consumers’ needs. Almost more importantly than the much needed button and stick changes, the new controller will be slightly more compact for smaller hands, but not too small, while packing in a rechargeable battery – finally suiting up to the PlayStation standard.
Second to none, the Kinect accessory is set to be packed in with your new Xbox console. Gone are the days where you’ll be buying this late-to-the-show accessory separately, and it’s packing in a load of new stats. Taking in video at 1080p high definition, the new Xbox Kinect will download more visual data than ever before, at 2 GB of data per second. Featuring most prominently an always-on state, the new Kinect unit of your Xbox One will be capable of turning on your system by simply saying, “Xbox, on” as we step ever closer to the real life of Tony Stark. Take advantage of the deepest Kinect integration yet with fast swapping between your games, TV and internet in simple commands, then hop to Skype for a group video chat in the blink of an eye.
Your next generation Xbox console will be “connected and ready,” said Microsoft when speaking about the hardware. Conveniently, Microsoft has left out the details of the Processor and graphics card, presumed to be identical to that of Sony’s PlayStation 4 console in a Jaguar 8-core 1.6 GHz core and 7000-series AMD GPU, but they have given us some of the similar morsels to that of Sony’s press conference. 8 GB of RAM (random access memory) will be available on the console, along with a much needed Blu-Ray disk drive and USB 3.0. As this statistical difference is so minor, it’s worthwhile to note that neither Sony nor Microsoft took a step forward to mention the hard specs of their console, but rather focus on the major differences between their units.
Your Xbox dashboard will be getting a rework for the next generation, while retaining much of the same style from the current dashboard – good news for those who don’t much like change. Microsoft is now blurring the lines between your PC, tablet, cellular and Xbox integration by packing “3 operating systems in one.” Your Xbox dashboard is now built on a Windows kernel, making coding of applications, games and more even easier than ever. Expect wide integration of apps with your Windows 8 PC, phone and tablet as the Windows 8.1 update could integrate your systems more tightly than ever, and the Smartglass application is now a native app for your Xbox One.
Gaming doesn’t end on the user’s side these days, as we all know. Xbox LIVE will be undergoing some significant upgrades in the next gen as well. With the original Xbox console, through the life of Xbox LIVE Microsoft deployed only 3,000 servers to support the network. On your Xbox 360 today Microsoft has 15,000 servers to support connectivity throughout the world. With the Xbox One these numbers aren’t even close as Microsoft is dumping a massive 300,000 servers into the mix to support some significant changes to the LIVE network in just a few small features. Cloud saving, a standard feature of the Xbox 360, will continue throughout the Xbox One and into the future. This doesn’t take up much memory for Microsoft, but Gave DVR – the ability to upload any game video and edit it through your console without having to shell out $200 for the PVR of your dreams – that does. Are multi-player shooters your thing? Microsoft is playing to it’s hardcore audience this generation to bring larger scale warfare to the field in “direct computation gaming” using these servers. A terrific addition like this could set apart a Microsoft FPS from that of it’s competition. Oh, and we’re you tired of your friend’s list being limited to 100 people? Microsoft is upping the number to 1,000.
So what games are coming to the Xbox One?
Confirmed at launch thus far, the worst company in the world – as voted by you, Electronic Arts is packing in 4 titles for the launch window. Fifa ’14, Madden 25, NBA Live ’14, and a new UFC. As with any new generation, each developer is toting an all-new graphics engine for their titles, boasting the best graphics of any console to date. Sure, it’s an obvious statement but it’s always nice to see in action. With the EA Ignite Engine players will have up to 10 times more animation depth and detail, while computing 4 times more calculations per second. Each game will host a “daily stream of new content that impacts the game as you play”, but EA’s FIFA is really bringing it to the Xbox One with the exclusive fan favorite “Ultimate Team” edition available nowhere else.
Not to be outdone, the other side of the giant coin of developers in Activision announced that Call of Duty shall live on in the next generation. Again having an all-new engine, Call of Duty: Ghosts will play with more animations than ever before in a stronger visual and cinematic experience. Imagine the fluidity of Call of Duty multi-player when climbing a wall at full speed no longer means stopping dead in your momentum. The next CoD title adds dynamic mantling of walls and sliding in open ground to make the best angle on your shot at your disposal at any time. Maps become something else entirely with the addition of a new Dynamic map feature. Knock over log embankments, get washed out in a flood and more as the world around you changes both by natural and user-driven environmental change. As an added bonus, the next Call of Duty will allow you to not only loadout your weapons, but customize your multi-player character with visual edits never before seen. Putting the icing on the cake, Activision also makes a note of one of their proudest features, and something that left them visually in the dust at the end of the last generation — Ghosts will still as always play in 60 frames per second.
Many more titles will be featured on the Xbox One at launch, including a confirmed Forza 5, the Remedy-developed Quantum Break, thief and Watch Dogs. Microsoft also plans a great long-term lineup for the console, as more than 15 exclusive titles have been confirmed for the system within the first year, and 8 of those titles will be all-new never before seen games.
Launching late this year, the Xbox One was not given a firm release date or price during the conference, but you can be sure that as soon as it is known, we’ll have you covered here. Join us again during the E3 press conference on June 11-13th for more coverage of Microsoft, Sony and the next generation of gaming.
Want to see the press conference in it’s entirety? We’ve got it on Twitch.TV, attached below: