Microsoft unveils next-gen console
Microsoft has unveiled its next-gen console—dubbed the Xbox One. Instead of just specialising in gaming, however, the company has gone for an all-in-one approach with features on the new console aimed at taking over the living room instead of just offering a gaming machine. The Xbox One was unveiled during an event held by Microsoft last night.
The console uses many of the voice commands that were earlier introduced as part of the Kinect. There are quite a few new ones however. For example, saying “Xbox On,” will start the console and bring you to your personalised home screen. The console itself has many new features. You can navigate and watch live TV from your cable, telco or satellite set-top box through the Xbox One. This feature however seems to be US centric. We have no idea if it will work on Indian set-top boxes.
The complete Xbox One package
The console also has the Snap feature where you can essentially split-screen different tasks. For example, you can hop into and play a random multiplayer game while also watching a movie or talking with friends through Skype. Speaking of which, Skype is officially making its way to the Xbox One.
As was earlier rumoured, the Xbox One is ditching its predecessor’s Power PC architecture and is going for an x86-based eight-core processor, but more information on the exact hardware of the console is unavailable as of now. We’ll undoubtedly learn more about the console’s hardware once E3 comes around.
A number of games were showcased with the console, including Forza Motorsport 5, Call of Duty: Ghosts, new sports titles from EA and Quantum Break, which is a new IP by Max Payne creator Remedy Entertainment. The sports games unveiled by EA include FIFA 14, Madden NFL 25, NBA Live 14 and EA Sports UFC. Microsoft also announced a Halo TV series helmed by Steven Spielberg in partnership with developer 343 Industries.
The console has a sleek blocky design
Xbox Live is undergoing some changes as well with new features including Smart Match, Game DVR, Living Games and Expanded Achievements making its way to the console.
Smart Match is a new matchmaking system that Microsoft claims, “virtually eliminates waiting in lobbies by estimating wait times and finding people you want to play while you are enjoying other activities.”
Game DVR is like the share button we saw on the PlayStation 4. The feature captures your gameplay footage and lets you save specific moments on the cloud. It comes with rudimentary editing tools and sharing options.
The controller doesn’t have any touchpad
Living Games are games that let other players play against your “shadow”, which is basically AI that has learned how to play like you. Although it sounds a bit scary, we will have to wait and see games implement this to figure out how well it actually works.
The achievement system has been improved, and new features include the console capturing a small video of you earning some achievements. These achievements can also change over time and help you improve your Xbox Live Gamerscore even more.
On the DRM side, Microsoft has included provisions for developers and publishers who might want some specific form of DRM for their Xbox One games. The system also locks any game disc you put into it to your own Xbox account, and playing it on another account will require you to pay a fee. This is essentially an attempt to squash the sales of second-hand games.
The console will come bundled with a Kinect
Unlike Sony’s PlayStation 4 event where the company just showed off the console’s controller, Microsoft has actually given us a look at the Xbox One. The company has gone for a blocky square-ish design, which it claims conforms to the 16:9 aspect ratio. The controller itself seems to be largely unchanged from the previous one, albeit with the Xbox Guide button being repositioned and a different – possibly better – D-pad. Also unlike the PlayStation 4, the Xbox One’s controller lacks a touchpad.
More information on the Xbox One’s games will be available soon, especially with E3 right around the corner.