Xbox One – Microsoft’s Next Generation Console
Launch date: November 22nd
Comes with: a black console, Kinect sensor, one wireless commemorative controller, headset, power cord, HDMI cable, FIFA 14. (N.B. This is for the limited “Day One” edition of the console currently on offer for pre-order).
What you should consider: After a somewhat difficult showing at the annual E3 games convention in May, Microsoft have altered how their console will function and are adding tempting offers to sweeten potential customers. They have shied away from digital licensing of games which had a slightly unfavourable reaction with long-term Xbox fans, despite the idea becoming better accepted through Valve’s Steam client for PC games and Apple’s iTunes for music. Instead, Microsoft have confirmed they will use a dual strategy, offering disc-based games via retail and digital downloads via Xbox Live.
In their efforts to recapture consumer interest, Microsoft have announced that a “Day One” edition of Xbox One will come with a code to download FIFA 14, a clever move clearly designed to win over European customers. The Xbox One is retailing for £80 more than the Playstation 4, and this is down to the inclusion of the Kinect sensor with every Xbox One sold, rather than being sold as an add-on as it was initially with the Xbox 360. Undoubtedly, this is a new, more powerful version of the peripheral, promising greater accuracy in motion control and player recognition. It is a smart move in terms of appealing to a range of consumers like families, promising new iterations of games such as Just Dance and a new Zumba fitness game. The greater functionality the console has, the more likely it is to attract serious gamers and standard users alike. This is also a showing of Microsoft’s long-term strategy, promising the consumer that everything they require is included in the box right from the word go and is a shrewd move to avoid confusion amongst customers over versions of the same console.
The lineup of games available at launch is spread across genres reasonably well, with a number of big-hitting franchises receiving new titles. These include Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag, Battlefield 4, Call of Duty: Ghosts, Forza Motorsport 5, FIFA 14, Dead Rising 3 (exclusive to Xbox One), Need for Speed: Rivals and new NBA and Madden entries. A new franchise, Watch Dogs, continues to generate interest, as you play a hacker in Chicago, able to use his smartphone for all sorts of clever tricks, not least controlling traffic light systems to cause accidents or otherwise slip away from the scene of a crime unnoticed. Ubisoft worked hard to ensure its previous big franchise, Assassin’s Creed, truly was a next generation game that couldn’t have been made on the Playstation 2 or original Xbox. Watch Dogs is already generating chatter and hype amongst critics and gamers alike, and is a prime example of something bold and new.
‘The Cloud’ is a phrase thrown around by Microsoft when discussing the Xbox One: this means that data stored at Microsoft will enable users to have quicker access to, theoretically, greater numbers of applications and features. Microsoft is promising “Xbox One and games grow with you over time” thanks to this new development. It’s easy to imagine exciting possibilities: downloadable maps and new features could be taken further and game engines could be fundamentally altered at Microsoft’s end so that players do not have to commit to annual updates of a game series, instead having the existing game upgrade. This is not dissimilar to a massively-multiplayer online gaming approach and is welcome news indeed.
Elsewhere, tablet and phone integration is promised, adding extra features such as facts behind the films you may be watching, or companion apps for games you play to keep track of statistics of games you’re playing. This has arguably been a long time coming, but will ensure the work bringing Xbox Live to mobile phones will not go to waste on Microsoft’s part, and will also ensure consumers are thinking about their Xbox One even when not at home. The ability to record footage and share with others is also present, which seems like a feature aimed at the seasoned player to share replays or “Wow!” moments of multiplayer games.
With all that said, what’s important are facts, not speculation. Below are hard statistics about specifications and games.
CPU: 8 core, x86 processor
GPU: Not confirmed
RAM: 8GB DDR3
Storage: 500GB HDD
Optical: Blu-Ray/DVD drive
Full list of games available at launch*:
Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag
Call of Duty: Ghosts Crimson Dragon
Dead Rising 3
Forza Motorsport 5
Just Dance 2014
LEGO Marvel Super Heroes
Madden NFL 25 NBA 2K14
NBA LIVE 14
Need for Speed: Rivals Peggle 2
Powerstar Golf Ryse: Son of Rome
Skylanders: Swap Force
Zumba Fitness: World Party
* – Microsoft use the phrase “launch window” which could mean during November and December 2013.