The lights are on
It’s been an exciting two weeks in the gaming industry. In less than one week, we’ll be welcoming a second next-generation console into our living rooms. Whether you’re biding your time for Xbox One delivery or still sitting on the fence, this rundown of critical information will get you set for November 22.
Much has been made of the Xbox One’s size and shape. The console is a slick glossy black plastic that Microsoft calls “liquid black.” The console measures at 13 in x 10.75 in x 3.25 in. The Xbox One does have a power brick, but it’s smaller than the one required for the Xbox 360. You’ll still need to figure out where to put it, though.
Here’s what’s under that liquid black chassis:
What’s in the Box?
Here’s what $499.99 gets you:
The Xbox One controller looks very similar to the Xbox 360 controller, with a few pronounced differences. The thumb sticks are a bit smaller, and the face buttons have a more definitive click to them.
The much maligned directional pad on the the Xbox 360 controller has been replaced with something that isn’t quite as loose and imprecise. The audio port at the bottom has been replaced with a proprietary connector that can be used for chat and game audio.
Microsoft will be releasing an adapter that will enable legacy headsets to connect to the new controller, but it won’t be available until 2014. Additionally, the battery is now flush to the back of the controller, eliminating the battery pack hump.
Instead of a start button, the right function button has been renamed to “menu.” The guide button still brings you back to the main dashboard.
Microsoft has been touting the improved rumble, especially in the triggers. The new “impulse triggers,” allow developers to more dynamically assign force feedback. Forza Motorsport 5 has been the showcase for this feature.
The new Kinect is leaps and bounds improved over the original model. It sports a 1080p camera and can see in the near darkness. The microphone is designed to eliminate environmental noise, which is crucial given the integration with voice commands.
Field of view, one of the limiting factors of the original Kinect, has been improved by 60 percent. The skeletal tracking plays a major role (along with facial recognition) in identifying players for sign-in. The device can even figure out which player is holding the controller as it is passed from one person to another.
Kinect is integral to rapidly controlling the Xbox One. Simple voice commands allow users to switch between games, apps, and television stations. This input mechanism can also be used to record gameplay clips and upload them.
Xbox Live Gold members can also use Skype video chat. We saw a live call in action, and the audio and visual clarity were impressive.
When Microsoft announced the Xbox One in late May, many gamers reacted poorly to the company's push toward an all-digital solution. The original plan for the Xbox One was for the device to require regular "check-ins" online. At E3, these were specified to be spaced at 24 hours.
This was part of a solution that would have enabled family game sharing, but would have made trading in used retail games extremely cumbersome (if it were even possible). After a strongly negative reaction at E3, Microsoft went back to the drawing board and made some much-needed changes.
Right now, there is absolutely no requirement to connect your console to the internet except for when you first bring it home. You will need to install a 500 MB update before your console can perform any functions at all. After that, you will not need to be online, and there is no restriction at all on used game sales or retail game trading.
Read on to find out about the games available at launch.