Gaming News: The XBOX ONE Essentials

Written by Nick Ransbottom Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Gaming News

Today, Microsoft unveiled their next generation console, the Xbox One. Cue jokes referencing both it being a singular sensation and the loneliest console.

So, what are the absolute essential facts you need to know about the upcoming console that Microsoft is branding as the “all-in-one entertainment system?” Let’s find out!

First, let’s start with the system specs for all you technophiles out there. The Xbox One will have an 8-core CPU, 8 GB of system memory, 500 GB hard drive, a Blu-ray player, 802.11n wireless with Wi-Fi Direct, HDMI in/out, and USB 3.0.

The Xbox One is not, let me repeat, NOT an always online console as previously rumoured. That’s the good news. The bad news is that, because developers can access the almighty power of Microsoft’s cloud, certain games could require an internet connection to play. And in a statement given to Wired, Xbox Executive Mark Whitten hopes developers use that feature.

But it gets worse, as some of the other rumours turned out to be true;  because of the new specs, the Xbox One is not backwards compatible with Xbox 360 games (though Microsoft still plans to support the 360 after One launches). Also true? The possibility of players being charged extra to play used games.

The Xbox One requires players to install their game onto their hard drive before they play it, meaning that after the installation, they’re free to play the game without popping in the disk. Unfortunately, if another account wants to play the game, they’re given a fee in order to install the game and play it. Microsoft currently has no official statement on used games, though Whitten did tell Wired that details were “forthcoming.”

Hopefully you like the Kinect, because it’s a huge focus of One; in fact, according to a statement given to IGN by Xbox UK’s Marketing Director, Harvey Eagle, the console won’t function unless it’s plugged in.

The new interface is Kinect focused as well. Users simply say “Xbox, on” in order to activate the console. From there, users are greeted with their most recent activities. Users swipe to switch to another screen, and can use their voice to change games, movies, and live-TV on the fly.

“Snap Mode” is a new feature that allows players to pull up the internet on one portion of the screen while a movie plays in the background. Players use hand gestures to pinch and zoom the size of screens (I’m biting my tongue not to make a MINORITY REPORT joke), and “Snap Mode” can also be used during Skype. If you don’t like using a motion controlled interface, you can use Smartglass or the Xbox One controller.

The new Kinect is more powerful than ever, with the sensor recording in 1080p, and has wide-view functionality. Microsoft says the new Kinect recognizes more joints, such as wrists and shoulders, and can monitor your heartbeat. Creepy.

Oh, and breathe a sigh of relief, because your Gamerscore and achievements will carry over. One does have an interesting system with its achievements, though, allowing them to be more dynamic and “personal”. As the official site explains:

“Xbox One’s all new achievements system has richer detail and spans across your games and experiences, which means achievements are no longer confined to a single game. And you can earn achievements in more ways since new ones can be added dynamically at any time. Our new achievements portal not only keeps track of what you earned, but how you earned it, so it’s more personal than ever. It even lets you compare your achievements with your friends. Share your legacy and achieve greatness with Xbox One.”

Developers can even add more achievements without DLC thanks to the cloud-based technology, sources told Polygon.

And that’s all you really need to know about the Xbox One, which is launching later this year.

So, what do you think? Are you camping out to buy it at launch? Is it the worst idea ever? Will it ruin Microsoft as a gaming company? And perhaps mostly importantly, are you also like us, and think that it looks like an old VCR?

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