Now then. I've just been sat for an hour watching the conference. Stepping up first was Don Mattrick to introduce us to the concept and the day. But before this was a trailer of people from Microsoft basically saying "We're changing gaming again." I beg to differ.
So Don Mattrick steps up to the stage, talks a bit about how the original Xbox came to be, introduction of Live, then the release of the Xbox 360 [X360] and an improvement of the Live services. At this precise point everyone knows what is now coming. He didn't half big it up though.
Come on! It's the name of a console! You don't have to repeat what we've already just heard. And so, after a bit more of a big up, the name of the console is revealed. Xbox 8? Xbox Infinity? No! Of course not! It's the Xbox One. Someone check to see if the guy from Nintendo who thought up the name of the Wii U still works there.
Although to be fair, both names serve their purpose. The Wii U was basically an improvement of the theory Wii is the family and U is you. And to make a console based around that. Xbox One [XB1] is basically the concept that your console can do everything. And indeed it can. In fact, they advertised more on the other features of the XB1 than the games the console is meant to have.
First off the line was Yusuf Meidi and the integration of the console, the controller and Kinect. Just picture this. You say Xbox on, and it does. It recognises you and auto logs you in. It remembers what you were last doing and puts you on the tab that you were on last. Using gestures you can swap between tabs on the home menu, open up something with your voice, and even use the snap feature of Windows 8.
You can even minimise what you were doing with a gesture and maximise it again with the opposite of that gesture. Good concept, but does it work in a house? Why do they never show stuff like that? I've played Kinect Sports before. Someone walks in, whole game messed up. I've tried to use voice control. Half the time it won't respond, and most of the time it'll pick up something I didn't say [in other words, the mention of Xbox in conversation].
This new Kinect though, is a refinement and improvement of the first. Full 1080p cameras and a better microphone installed, as demonstrated with a Skype call. This is just getting even more like Windows 8 now. And of course, a partnership with ESPN. What good is that for anyone but America? Basically, all it does is unlocks a load of features and abilities direct from the ESPN website.
The same thing was shown later on with a partnership from NFL (again - who else but American's really care?). And the TV can be swapped to without having to change inputs. Great. Full integration of the TV with Xbox Live and Kinect. Just what everyone without a remote needs. Except everyone has one.
Next up was Marc Whitten and the specs of this new machine. Basically, it's nearly identical to the PS4. Blu-Ray, 8GB RAM, and more specs I don't really care for. The XB1 has three operating systems. A new, improved Xbox one. The Kernel from Windows. And some OS which integrates both together and allows for the almost instant swapping and switching. Kinect is more accurate with even bigger recognition features in a range of things, including depth, joints, muscle and... anyone still interested? Basically, a lot more motion control that contributes to this being the definitive version of the Kinect.
The controller is also more accurate, and Smartglass is natively a part of XB1. In other words "We are leading the world in innovation and having a slice of Nintendo's cake but charging more for it." Smartglass was originally intended for this purpose, just like Sony is experimenting with PS4-PSV cross features and remote play. It doesn't matter if it's native or not. It's still not going to work as well as a WiiU, which was purpose built for it. I can understand why they are doing it, but while the concept is good, I can't help but feel that both Microsoft's and Sony's versions will cost more than a WiiU [Smartglass compatible device and an XB1 or a PS4 and PSV].
If I'm getting off as anti-Microsoft very pro-Nintendo here, don't worry. I'm trying to be as unbiased as possible. The online functionality of Xbox Live is bigger than ever with 300,000 servers to be powering it for the XB1, and a lot more can be done with the online. Next up was EA and Andrew Wilson, who announced straight away the partnership between EA and Microsoft. I guess we now know why they snubbed Nintendo with the advanced online features and extra power and the Kinect to work with. And EA, it seems, have gone all out with that.
A new engine for the XB1 that allows for the extra features and recognition of the Kinect to be used in their sports games. The name of the engine? EA Sports Ignite. Apt. It basically promises more in terms of depth and detail, as well as animation and physics. More details were promised for 'soon' including more details on the XB1 only version of FIFA 14's Ultimate Team expansion. A trailer was then shown [can we really say pre-rendered] of footage from all four of EA's main sports games. Can't really say much other than it looked good in action.
Phil Spencer of Microsoft Studios then showed footage of Forza Motorsport 5, confirmed it as a launch title, and that more info would be revealed at E3. For a fan of Forza, I can't wait to see more, but everything else about this console seriously turns me off buying. Spencer then stated that Remedy had a new Quantum game coming out and showed a traile- um. Live action of some weird human interaction of a girl who I think was meant to be the XB1 and a woman aski- actually, I'll just cut to the chase.
It basically showed a load of bullet-time scenes of a boat crashing into a bridge before revealing the name of Quantum Break. Actually, I might be being a tad unfair there, since Remedy are number one at making actual game footage look like pre-rendered footage. Spencer then said that Microsoft Studios were working close with game devs to bring a load of exclusive games to the XB1, and confirmed 15 games for the year starting on the release of the XB1, 8 of which would be new IPs.
Did we really need more talk of the TV features? Apparently we did, as Nancy Tellem then steps up to reiterate what we had seen in the first half of the conference [yes, this is about forty-five minutes into it now], and then Halo is mentioned, Bonnie Ross is brought on stage, who then tells us of a Halo live action TV series being made by Steven Spielburg. Great. Instead of a game, we get a TV Series. I expect the game will be shown off at E3, and will somehow tie into this TV Series. This is then when we got the talk of an exclusive partnership with NFL.
And then, it was all about Call of Duty. We get Don Mattrick back on to say a few words of doom and gloom [considering Call of Duty DLC is always Xbox exclusive, I doubt it is doom and gloom] and the fact that the new XB1 is launching worldwide later this year [was that really necessary apart from reassurance?]. Then we were handed over to Activision and Eric Hirshberg to talk in more detail about it.
New engine, new gameplay mechanics, brand new characters, and a load of extra detail. A dog is your new squad member, as well as others. Multiplayer is more dynamic with player controlled and natural disasters. And then, as if to prove this is the best ever made [really? Does it need to be reiterated even more?] a comparison was made with Modern Warfare 3 and the new game of Ghosts. And then we get to the actual footage of the game. And then after that, a screen saying that more info will be available at E3.
And I hope it is a lot more. This seriously has not impressed me. I can understand the concept of it all, but Microsoft were advertising most features as either 'revolutionary' or brand new. Too much emphasis on bigging up Kinect, but at least we got to see the console. Sorry, did I say at least? It looks like someone remade a chess board and cut a slab out of it. So, unless you really are a big fan of Microsoft, come E3, I can see a lot of the fanbase moving to either Nintendo, Sony, or just keeping their X360. Unless, of course, Microsoft really impress us at E3.
Oh well. I suppose they can only improve. Not. As if it couldn't be any worse, information was released by Microsoft almost after the conference saying mandatory installation for games is a thing, and if a second user wants to install it, they have to pay. Add that to Live still being behind a paywall [it wasn't mentioned service charges were being removed] and this is probably the losing three of all consoles.
Sorry Microsoft. I trusted you in buying an X360, and am happy with it, but this is just taking it too far. As one comment on the ONM forum says, "Can't wait to pay £300/£400 for a new TV box." As that's what this amounts to.