Now that Sony had their big announcement it is time for Microsoft to make their big next gen reveal. Will it be always on? Will we actually see the console? Here is a rundown of the event, with key details in bold:
1:00 PM: Microsoft set the tone early with a montage talking about how the new system will integrate cloud technology to give you what you want without having to find it. They want the new console to dominate your living room and the key work that sums it all up is “alive.”
1:03 Don Mattrick is the first person up to talk about how the XBOX has always been ahead of the curve with things like XBOX Live and Kinect, and how they are still looking forward. They want to simplify your living room by taking advantage of cloud technology to create an all-in-one system in an age where people go to their tablets phones while gaming and watching TV.
1:08: The new console is called XBOX ONE. They show off what the console looks like (unlike Sony), black and shiny like a PS3. There is a Kinect at launch with a new controller which seems to fix the d-pad issue. The hardware is then shown on the main stage. The idea is to make the experience simple, fast and complete.
1:10: Yusef Mendhi up next to show off the console. Like Don, he put heavy emphasis on what they will show at E3. The homescreen is similar to the 360 and remembers the last few things you were doing, and has a trending section which shows what your friends are into and what the overall community is into. This branches from games to music and movies. Yusef cycles through all of the options using voice command. Saying
“XBOX, watch TV” instantly switches to a TV feed. He is also able to switch to music, browsers, movies and games with voice command, and it’s pretty fast. There are also hand gestures that open up windows from the menu to go full screen.
You also have the ability to use multiple apps at the same time. While watching the 2009 Star Trek movie, Yusef uses voice command to open IE on the side of the screen to look up the new Trek movie, go through favorites and buy tickets. I’ll forgive the plug.
Yusef uses Skype with a fellow employee while watching the movie. Video and audio look solid.
After pulling up the ESPN app, Yusef displays the ability to show league standings and fantasy stats. Pretty cool if you’re in an ESPN fantasy league (which I’m not). There is also a TV guide which lets you see what is on cable and go to any channel by saying the channel you want to watch like HBO or CBS. The idea behind all of this is for the user to not have a reason to turn the TV off of the XBOX.
1:20: Mark Whitten out next to talk about the details of the console. 5 Billions transistors and 8 gigs of RAM. It has BluRay and USB 3 tech.
It uses three different operating systems to make it as easy as possible to use. This causes the system to shift from program to program with no lag. Voice control has also been adapted to be more conversational.
Kinect is getting an upgrade with a better camera and enhanced body recognition to recognize rotation and weight control.
The new controller has 40 design innovations with an upgraded battery pack and d-pad (which looks more like the Sony d-pad). The new Kinect sensor is what the entire experience revolves around.
New XBOX Live is built on 300,000 servers. Content is stored in the cloud so that you can access any content from anywhere. There is also a DVR program for gaming that lets you rewind and record gameplay (like PS4). There is also a system to find the perfect competitors for you in multiplayer, giving you the best possible experience.
1:28: Andrew Wilson from EA announces that EA is producing FIFA 14, Madden 14, NBA Elite 14 (uh oh) and a UFC game (that’s interesting). They will all be ready within 12 months and feature a new program called “Ignite.” This is meant to adjust the mental aspect of playing, along with more realistic body movement when colliding with other players on the field. There are also more dynamic crowds and playing environments teased. There is also a tease of XBOX only full multiplayer. This was all recapped with a montage of what could be gameplay. If it is it looks pretty great. That’s expected of course. The main thing I took away from it was uniform and face movement.
1:35: Phil Spencer out next to take a look at Forza Motorsport 5. I don’t know much about racing games but it looks good. After the PS4 reveal I’m kind of numb to the graphics. Of course it is all going to look amazing. It will be available at launch.
1:40: Remedy Games debuts a game called Quantum Break. The games starts with a live action scene which cuts into a heavy disaster scene with a ship crashing into a bridge. What followed was a sneak peak of gameplay (most of it I missed due to LAAAG). What I did see looked okay.
XBOX ONE will launch with 15 exclusives, eight of which are new franchises. This is kind of a big deal as exclusives have been lacking recently.
1:45: Nancy Tellem from XBOX Entertainment Studios talks about how TV on XBOX will emerse you in the experience. The emphasis will be on personalization. She brings out Bonnie Ross from 343 Industries to talk about how Halo will integrate into this. She reveals that there will be a live action Halo TV series to be produced by Steven Spielberg.
1:50: XBOX ONE will have a partnership with the NFL to have exclusive content, as well as app access to integrate your fantasy league stats. I imagine this also means Sunday Ticket will be available as well. It was on PS3 last year.
1:55: Dan Mattrick comes back out to wrap things up, announcing that the XBOX ONE will be released later this year, and again promotes E3 where several more games will be revealed.
2:00: Eric Hirshberg from Activision out to announce the next generation of Call of Duty, of which DLC will all be released first on XBOX. Using a new game engine, Call of Duty: Ghosts is the next CoD game. There is a short behind the scenes clip showing the making of the game and some of the new features like dogs. Yup, dogs. The engine upgrades the way objects look when you are close to them, as well as changing the way you hurdle over objects, slide and interact with the environment. Another new feature is interactive maps, which include essentially traps that you can trigger within the environment. Hirshberg describes it as the best CoD game in terms of graphics, gameplay and story. Ghosts was then compared side by side to MW3. Of course its better. I’m honestly not going crazy over them though. Finally we get a clip of gameplay on the XBOX ONE engine. What we actually get is the games trailer. The biggest element to me was the interactions with water and shooting down a building while you are scaling it. The parts that looked like gameplay certainly had the graphics of a cutscene. It looks good. It’s supposed to.
2:08: One final plug for E3 in the form of a countdown and the presentation is over.
I’ll probably sound like the huge Sony fanboy that I am but I was a little underwhelmed by this event. On the plus side, we actually saw the hardware which looks very nice and not oversized. It also did not drag the way Sony’s did. However there was so much emphasis put on watching TV and not very much on gaming. NFL, ESPN, watching moves, surfing the internet. Gaming seemed to be second to everything else. They did announce some titles and show off some footage, but aside from Forza, it was all third party titles that will be on PS4 as well. I imagine this will all be address at E3. I’m sure this had everything XBOX fans were looking for, but in many ways it’s what Sony already announced with the PS4. The TV features are very cool. I just hope the games are as well.