Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Back To Square One: The next generation revealed

After months of rumor and speculation, the next Xbox has finally emerged from the shadows. With the Xbox One now public, the last of the puzzle pieces is in place to give a picture (if still not a totally clear one) of what this next generation actually is. It is now time for much armchair analyzing.

With Sony's PS4 reveal earlier this year, they made their strategy for the next round of Console Battle very clear.

Nintendo, as always, is sticking with the "just bein' Nintendo over here" thing. It's not working gangbusters for them right now, but hey, they're doin' their thing.

So that just left Microsoft. Silent in the face of unbelievably bad press, and with Sony running away with the thunder, it was clear beforehand that they either had something so awesome they knew they were going to be popping nerd boners the world over, or they had fucked up. Reportedly delaying this announcement a month gave credit to the "oh shit oh shit" theory, but now the cards are on the table. Let's go over what we've actually learned.

First off, Xbox One.

That name is retarded.

Presumably meant to capture the "one device for every need" vibe they've been pushing the brand in for years, it strikes me as laughably regressive. It has been rumored that Microsoft named the 360 in that way as to not seem less advanced then the PS3. Playstation 3, after all, sounds like Jetsons shit when compared to "Xbox 2". Microsoft has now positioned its Xbox One as 25% of the awesomeness of the Playstation 4, and a blistering 359 times less cool than its own forebear. But that just seems to further cement the idea that Microsoft doesn't give a fuck what Sony or Nintendo are doing anymore. That the Xbox One may seem a less advanced gaming system than the Playstation 4 is as irrelevant to them as Windows 8 being a worse comedian than Jeff Dunham. No, Microsoft wants that Apple money.

"Apple TV? Fuck that shit. Xbox One bitches."

Almost one half of the conference was dedicated to Xbox One's TV integration. Features like changing channels and a channel guide screen were treated like groundbreaking innovations. With the Xbox One, you can instantly switch between games and shit no one cares about. Go from playing Madden to watching The Price Is Right to browsing porn in seconds, all while viewing your Achievements on your tablet. Microsoft has truly created the world's first console for the ADD generation. With 5 million transistors, you don't ever have to focus on doing anything for more than a minute.

This is what Google says a transistor is.  Kudos to Microsoft for getting 5 million of them in that box.

So what was there for us gamers? Well, after 30 minutes we were treated to a rambling speech from an EA executive about the innovative power of the unified force network system that will lead to a new plateau of engaging technical drive generation gear emotion. Then a montage of unsurprising EA Sports game reveals. After that, we got to see another Forza game. It's Forza, so it looked pretty, but that's all that there is to say about that. Following the video of cars driving around things, Microsoft revealed Remedy (the folks behind Max Payne and Alan Wake) are working on a new game for the Xbox One. We didn't get to see much of Quantum Break, but it's nice to know those guys are working on something new. That little girl scared the shit out of me though.

"I want to wear your skin."

Then it was back to TV talk for the announcement of a Halo TV show (unnecessarily introduced by Steven Spielberg). Admittedly that could be a great thing, but it's not going to sell me on a console.

The final presentation was the inevitable Call of Duty: Ghosts reveal. It looks pretty cool, and I probably find myself more interested in it than I have been with the series in years. But it highlighted a big problem I had with the show. The games portion opened and closed with third party presentations. Ghosts may look cool, but it'll look just as cool on the PS4. The only things on show that would (in theory) entice me to buy an Xbox One over another console were Forza and Quantum Break, and neither showed any kind of in-game footage. Other than a quick comment about there being 15 exclusive games in development, the gaming part of this conference was an afterthought.

It could be argued that Microsoft is saving its games talk for E3, and I'm sure that's the case, but with so much emphasis on non-gaming functionality in this show, it's very clear where their minds are, going into this generation.

Other Thoughts:

  • The console reportedly blocks used games behind a pay wall, which has EA's abandoning of Online Passes earlier this month making a lot more sense. While the "Always Online" rumors seem to be debunked in part, it also seems like you need to be online to activate your games. So. That's shitty.
  • Did anyone else see J Allard in that opening montage? Where the hell has that guy been? That dude rules.
  • The system is literally just a big black box. Emphasis on big. The Xbox One looks like it could bench the Xbox 1.
  • The dashboard looks similar to the Xbox 360's, which means a clusterfuck of ads.

  • Kinect with every Xbox. Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay.

Overall, my thoughts can be summed up thusly:

Who knows, maybe E3 will change everything.


  1. Xbox One is a shit name!!!

    The whole TV focus annoys me... And it seems overly aimed at the US audience - not a bad thing per se, but it excludes me.

    The Remedy game could be good, but all that trailer showed was a massive fucking boat torpedo-ing a bridge... So, who knows?

    Forza will be good, no doubt... But is it worth a console?

    E3 could be good - it could also be another disappointment...

    My feelings...

    meh / candy canes

  2. This is the best post I've read on the Xbox One and sums up basically every feeling I had about it. It's also the only one that doesn't sound like it's been paid for by Microsoft.

  3. From everything I have seen so far I will NOT be buying an Xbox One. It looks like im going Sony boys and girls.

    1. Thanks. I was just asking a couple of the guys here which system they thought Anonymous user planned to buy, when next gen arrives.

  4. "I want to wear your skin."