May 22, 2013

Xbox One: The Good, The Bad, The Wut

Microsoft has developed the world's first floating entertainment box.
The time has come. Microsoft has heard Sony and answered back not with a mighty roar, but a wimper. Granted, they only took up an hour to Sony's several, and they've promised E3 will be all about the games, but things are not looking so good thus far.

GOOD: The console reveal revealed the console.

BAD: I didn't think it was possible for any system to be larger than the original Xbox, yet here it is. The thing looks pretty ugly to boot. It's like two giant Wiis glued together, except one is matte and the other is glossy.

GOOD: The controller looks like the physical manifestation of sex. It's everything you loved about the 360 controller and more. Nintendo's patent on the + shaped d-pad expired in 2005, and it's nice to finally see someone taking advantage of that. The new controller also has rumbling triggers that can potentially provide force feedback. Now that's cool.

WUT: The Xbox One? Really? That's really going to confuse people who refer to the original Xbox as the Xbox One. And, if that's the name, why doesn't it say that anywhere? The branding on the console just says "Xbox" for some reason. I'm a bit disappointed they kept the logo the same, too. I see no reason it needs to be a circle still.

GOOD: The new Kinect probably sucks for playing games still, but hot damn if it isn't an impressive piece of tech. One will be bundled with every system, and can be used to do high level voice recognition as well as what I call "multi gesture", meaning you can, for example, expand an app on the home screen by highlighting it and pulling apart your hands. It can mesure your heart rate by looking at your face. Imagine if games reacted to stuff like that.

BAD: The Xbox One will not even function if Kinect isn't plugged in. You read that right. 
I need this. Like, right now.

GOOD: 15 exclusive games in the first year, eight of wich are new IPs. This one is very interesting to me. It means that E3 is going to be all about games this year, and Microsoft will probably have a good showing. It also means that they have seven returning IPs in the pipeline. Changes are slim that they involve Halo or Gears because new installments of those just came out. The Xbox doesn't have a huge catalog of exclusives at the moment, so could this mean they're reaching back into their backlog and reviving some older IPs? Rare is reportedly working on a "historic" franchise for the new system.

BAD: They want it to be the center of your living room. The focus on games was, as expected, pretty minimal. They announced two: Forza 5 and Quantum Break, the latter of which is a complete mystery. The point is, they didn't focus on games at all. That's all we, as gamers, care about. E3 may change our minds, but for now it's more appealing as a consumer electronics device.

BAD: It's not always online, but it will require an internet connection. This one is a little vague  Apparently, the Xbox One will not have always-on DRM. According to Kotaku, however, the Xbox will need to connect to the internet every 24 hours. Why? Who knows, but it sounds annoying as hell. What happens if your internet is down?

BAD: Games are tied to accounts. This is an anti-used games mesure. Apparently, each new copy will come with an activation code. You'll have to input the code and install the game on your system, which will then run on only your system. If you try to sell your disk, or take it to a friend's house, that person will have to pay full price to unlock the game and play it. You can apparently log on to your friend's console to play your disk, however. Still, this is a load of crap. At least you can play the game while it installs.

BAD: No backwards compatibility. Nintendo's the only one this time around, folks. Your old controller and Arcade games won't work either.

COULD GO EITHER WAY: The harddrive this time is 500 gigs, which is pretty large, but necessary if you have to install all your games. Unfortunately, it's not removable or upgradable. However, it will support external harddrives through USB 3.0. 

GOOD: Power. The specs shown could rival the PS4, but the specifics are currently unknown. It seems to be in the ballpark, though. At this point, all that power just seems to be making the OS run buttery smooth since we haven't seen any actual gameplay.

BAD: The OS itself is an evolution of what we've currently got– a grid of squares. Hope you like Windows 8! Speaking of Windows, it actually runs Windows, which is bound to be bad news. It does some other stuff too, if you care. You can run two things side by side in split screen and Skype with your friends while you play games.

Probably what you expected.

GOOD: It does some stuff the PS4 can do. Like I said, Xbox One will let you play games while you download them. It also lets you capture and share video. I'm not sure how you accomplish sharing video from a game, but it's probably in the guide somewhere. It'll boot up instantly because it's constantly in a low-power state and suspend games in the background. Finally, the camera identifies you by player, so no more light rings.

WUT: The Xbox one ups the number of friends on your friends list to 1,000. Seriously? You don't have that many friends. If you fill up that list, then you're probably the guy on Facebook who friends everyone he walks past and meets online. I have about 12 friends on my list, all of which I actually know in some capacity. You can also display your real name to your friends and allow friends to be added from social media. Wonderful.

GOOD: Halo tv series produced by Steven Spielberg announced!

BAD: Halo tv series is not actually on television and is exclusive to Xbox One.

BAD: Unlike the PS3, PS4, Wii U, and Steam, the Xbox One will not let indies self-publish games. So, there goes all the indie games.

Things are not looking so good to me right now. They're not doing a very good job building hype, at least for the gaming community. Apparently, this thing is pretty popular with the non-gamers, but us gamers are feeling alienated. Those 15 games should have been teased in some way beyond a cryptic trailer of Quantum Break. We'll have to see how Microsoft's game-focused E3 goes. If they don't blow me away there, I don't think I'll be buying an Xbox One. Halo just won't cut it any more.

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