Maybe this will all change once we get a better look, but right now, you can just smell the disappointment, can’t you? As a semi-spoiled half-futurist, I think it’s safe to say that I expected more from the last big reveal of this new console generation. That’s Microsoft’s curse. They get to close the stitch on the wound of dashed hope that was borne by an unreal set of expectations for a generation that feels like a placeholder.
No real 3-D, no holo-gaming, no photorealism, and I can’t control Master Chief with the power of my mind? Fucking bullshit.
To make matters worse, we don’t even know the depths of their possible failure because they mostly refrained from showing us real and sustained gameplay; something that has become the norm in an industry that fetishizes worthless cinematics whenever they try to rap at their audience about a new property or a re-dressed old property.
Speaking of re-dressed old properties, Microsoft probably should have embraced a Kinect re-brand in light of the tepid response that the original received.
Despite what the industry tells us, motion gaming still feels nascent with a full potential achievement that remains unlocked — the fucking wand, the twitchy camera bar, the irrelevant Wii U that bleeds relevancy from a shallow well more and more everyday — reset and rebuild, but don’t deliver unto me a corpse with sprinkles on it.
The boys in the lab over at Bill Gates’ jolly green giant project are putting a lot of burden on the back of the Kinect, further committing to the wonder of voice control, recognition, and the Kinect’s ability to now (allegedly) recognize real, human body movement as well as eye movement and the beat of our hearts and fuck that is a little creepy.
“I’ve detected weakness Dave, initiating extermination function zero. Good bye Dave.”
It’s not all bad though, the Snap function — that allows users to watch live TV (through their cable system) and split screen web search — is kinda cool, but it only pulls even with PC and Tablet capability. Again, dashed expectations pepper this reveal because we won’t see an outlet for high volume ambition in gaming like this for half a decade — at minimum — and by then, Apple will have us live streaming Downton Abbey from an antenna in our assholes.
It’s funny, to Microsoft, this is a victory. They’re calling this thing the ONE most likely because they plan on selling it to you as the ONE device that you will need and that is the holy grail: ONE device to make all others obsolete, but this isn’t that. This is just another ONE, and I already have enough other ones that do 90% of what this one does. Prettier ones that don’t look like an Atari 2600 briefcase with a massive footprint.
You’ll need to hang on to that old 360 if you want to play your old games, by the way. The Xbox One doesn’t do backwards compatibility, but on the bright side, Microsoft did recognize that people didn’t want to be online all the time, especially if they just wanted to embrace the “single player, close out the outside world” experience that is a under-celebrated but hugely important part of gaming. So the system won’t need to be online all the time, though obviously, a great part of the One’s bells and whistles comes from full connectivity and an Xbox Live membership so that we can have that “relationship” with our TV that the introductory add teased. By the way, I’m pretty sure that you also need to love sports to enjoy your Xbox One, because FUCK did they hammer the head off that nail.
As for gameplay, I have to assume that it will also be a large part of this new system, but as I said before, we didn’t get anything approaching a significant look at that in this presentation… the one that mostly felt like a needless E3 appetizer.
Sure, we know that there will be a new Forza game and that Modern Warfare: Ghost has a mo-cap dog and fancy sounding volumetric lighting, but as a gamer, there was little here for me and right now, that just about sums up this next generation as a whole.
Incremental innovation, empty hype and a lot of redundancy — right now, this future looks bent. Wake me when the PS5 gets announced.
UPDATE: Now reports are surfacing that the Xbox One will indeed need to be connected to the net once daily and — though there is a bit of confusion on this — it seems like there will be some kind of fee associated with playing used games. Fees that could range from $40-$60.
UPDATE 2: Regarding the used game fee, Major Nelson has responded, saying:
We know there is some confusion around used games on Xbox One and wanted to provide a bit of clarification on exactly what we’ve confirmed today. While there have been many potential scenarios discussed, today we have only confirmed that we designed Xbox One to enable our customers to trade in and resell games at retail.
Beyond that, we have not confirmed any specific scenarios.
Another piece of clarification around playing games at a friend’s house – should you choose to play your game at your friend’s house, there is no fee to play that game while you are signed in to your profile.