Following its official reveal yesterday afternoon, the next generation Xbox is now a reality. It’s called the Xbox One (meaning the award for “Most Inspiring Eighth Generation Console Name” is a no score draw between the big three), and it has apparently been designed as the ultimate entertainment device for the living room, offering ‘simple, instant and complete’ solutions to all your entertainment problems. But rather than solve problems, the reveal of the Xbox One has caused a wave of headaches amongst gamers the world over – the main problem being, at this moment in time, why the hell would you even consider wanting one?
There so much to not like about the Xbox One that it’s hard to pick a place to begin – I guess we can start with the kit itself. Statistically speaking the actual Xbox One console is roughly the size of a small planet; an uninspiring rectangular box that brings memories of the earliest VCR players. It will come as standard with a new version of Kinect supporting 1080p visuals, and will offer Blu-Ray compatibility as expected. The standard hard-drive will be 500GB, twice as big as the one currently in the 360 Slim model, and will feature three operating systems including Windows 8 for quick multitasking. The new controller mercifully retains much of the same design as the current 360 controller, but it now has a proper d-pad.
This much was said at the reveal, but the more grizzly details came out in the press afterwards. It will not be backwards compatible with Xbox 360 games. All games will now have to be installed as mandatory and authenticated with an online connection in order to work (meaning you no longer need the disc to play the game, and the increased hard drive space is a necessity rather than a generous addition). The much criticised rumour that the console will require a permanent online connection has not been confirmed, but it appears the console will (for whatever reason) require at least one hour connection to the internet per day to operate. The worst thing is that games are now tied to accounts – if you want to let a mate borrow a game or buy a title second hand, you will have to pay an activation fee for the game in addition to the cost of the game (this essentially means that game loaning services offering by the likes of Love Film will soon be null and void). In layman’s terms, this is bollocks.
However the console may work, the really worrying vibe that came out of the reveal event was the excess focus on entertainment over what most people still like about gaming consoles – stuff to play, you know, GAMES. A long time was spent demonstrating how the Xbox One will revolutionise the TV; how you can use Kinect to order channel switching through the console, how you can bring up additional features like Fantasy teams when watching sporting events using the ‘Snap’ feature, how what everyone is else watching will be demonstrated in a ‘Trending’ menu. I really couldn’t give a toss. If I want to switch channels, I’ll use the remote that mankind has used for the past sixty years with little to no fuss. And surely, bringing up additional titbits on screen while you watch something is destroying the so-called immersion that the Xbox One is going to define? And who is going to bother when most people have a smartphone or a tablet at their side to do the same job? Not like it matter here in Europe anyway, where we barely get any wealth of TV apps on the 360 as it is.
One the actual gaming front, the reveal offered depressingly little. 15 exclusive games have been promised for the first year of the Xbox One, with 8 of them being new IP’s – I bet you a small amount of money that several of those will be Kinect orientated, and like previous Kinect titles they will crash and burn. Elsewhere, in a reveal show that promised the Xbox One would give gamers experiences they have never seen before, they had the cheek to show off Forza 5, Fifa 14 and Call Of Duty: Ghosts (NOW WITH ADDED DOGS!!!!). I can barely muster up the energy to be excited for anything special they may have at E3.
And for the final kick in the teeth; on the specs-front, its seemingly behind the PS4 with less CPU, GPU and a slower memory rate.
Watching the reveal and reading about 98% negative comments across a variety of news outlets afterwards has left a distinctly bitter taste in one’s mouth about the Xbox One. Doubtless all the stuff with instantaneous TV and multitasking will work nicely, but it feels so completely irrelevant and unnecessary. The entire debacle with second hand games and activation is overtly confusing and bound to put people off until someone actually has the sense to explain the situation. And finally, I’ve lost all faith that there will be interesting games to play on the Xbox One that I couldn’t play for cheaper on other consoles or my PC (the rumoured price is $400).
Command: Xbox: count me out on this one.