Today Microsoft finally made the announcement that millions of us have been waiting for. For months we've all been asking, "What is the next gen XBox going to look like?", "What are the specs?", "How much will it be?" and "What's it going to be called?"
While we don't have all the answers yet (sounds like we'll get the rest at E3 in a few weeks), we certainly have a healthy taste of what is to come with XBox One. Several presenters explained, and demonstrated, what we can look forward to in just a few months time. While a final release date was not given, the new console will be available by year's end.
So with that, let's jump into the goods and take a look at what Microsoft unveiled today.
Xbox one: The Hardware
While Microsoft didn't go into great detail about what under the hood, here's what we do know. XBox One will sport an impressive 8GB memory accompanied by a 500GB hard drive. This coupled with a Bluray drive, USB 3.0, HDMI, and nearly silent operation, promises to make this the greatest XBox console by far.
However, with all this great power comes real concern. While Microsoft did not comment on the idea of backwards compatibility at the conference, there has been mention that all these amazing upgrades to the console will make backwards compatibility impossible. We were also introduced to the new XBox One controller. The new controller has a sleek, modern design, that personally I'm a huge fan of. It's "40 design innovations" are geared towards improved ergonomics and precision control.
However, it doesn't end there. Throw in the next gen Kinect sensor and you've got the complete package. Microsoft demonstrated several new, Kinect powered abilities that will be present in the XBox One. The state of the art sensor will allow you to navigate through the menus like never before, and with improved voice commands and even the ability to sense your heartbeat during workouts, impressive doesn't seem to even come close to doing it justice.
Xbox one: New and exciting capabilities
With all this amazing hardware, the question is, "What can it do?" The real question should be, what can't it do? We were given a very impressive presentation demonstrating the seamless, and instant voice commands that power this "always ready" "always online" new console.
The XBox One can be programmed to power and instantly navigate between movies, internet, gaming, music and even live television, and all utilizing it's "conversational" voice commands and improved hand gestures. Demonstrators showed how you can be playing a game in one instant, and then by simply saying "go to live TV" can seamlessly check the score of your live game. Once you're done, you can return back to your game, or watch a movie...all with voice command of course.
Having trouble deciding if you should Skype with your mom on Mother's Day, check out the latest movie trailers, or check your fantasy scores? Why choose? With XBox One, you won't have to. With Microsoft's new "Snap Mode" you can easily run multiple applications simultaneously on a single screen. As for Skype, thanks to a unique partnership with Microsoft, you'll be able to video chat like never before. Exclusive to XBox One will the be ability to have group video calls.
Keeping up with Fantasy sports has also never been easier. With notification windows for live ticker feeds, stats, highlight videos, and more, you can keep up to the minute with XBox One. The most exciting element here was the announcement of a partnership with the NFL to provide an even better sporting experience.
Lastly, the announcement of in game DVR with native editing and saving tools. This will allow you to record, edit, save and share epic gaming moments with friends for ultimate bragging rights. Overall, it's exciting to see that not only will the new console be superior to it's predecessor technically, but that they are using that technology to it's full potential to deliver the best a gaming console can offer. I may even forget that I can't trade in my old 360...almost.
Xbox One: Greatness to come
Finally, we were also given a sneak peek at some of the amazing games and entertainment that we can look forward to after the release of the new console. We were told that there will be 15 XBox One exclusive releases, 8 of which will be brand new franchises. EA demonstrated the new look of it's sports offerings such as Madden NFL, FIFA, and NBA Live. I can honestly say, that after seeing the gameplay demo for these games, powered by the new engine, I may even buy Madden again. (Having RG3 as the spokesperson for the game certainly didn't hurt.)
We also got a first look at the new Call of Duty installment, Call of Duty: Ghosts. While the news of this upcoming release hit a few weeks ago, little has been known about what we can expect from this new title. It seems that the folks over in CoD-land plan to utilize the new console to it's maximum capabilities. The gameplay demo showed off overly impressive graphics and renderings, and new storyline that promises a real emotional investment. The introduction of a war dog as your sidekick however could go either way. I personally feel that this new element will either be great, or it will be tacky, but we'll have to wait to see. Overall, the game looks amazing, and I can't wait for the release. I know we told you to hold off on the pre-orders, but honestly, I think it's a safe call for a true CoD fan.
Last, but certainly not least, was the epic knowledge bomb that Microsoft and 343 Industries dropped during the presentation. As you can imagine, with all these incredible upgrades and changes, we expect nothing but perfection from the franchise that put XBox on the map, Halo. It seems that fans have a lot more to look forward to than Halo 5.
Today, they announced that Microsoft has brought on Steven Spielberg to produce an all new, live-action, Halo series. Words fail me. Truthfully, I don't know how I would have felt about this news before Forward Unto Dawn (which is on Netflix Instant, if you haven't already seen it...watch it!). While the idea would've excited me, I would've had serious concerns about them not doing the story justice. However, Forward Unto Dawn was incredible, and so well done. I can only imagine what the team will do with this upcoming new series. Out of all the things announced today, this excites me the most, and I can't wait.
So, that about sums up what you missed if you didn't watch the reveal live online. Keep in mind, there are still a lot of questions left unanswered, not least among them are price and backwards compatibility. However, it seems we'll have to wait a few more weeks until E3 to get all the answers. Despite these lingering concerns, I can't imagine not owning this console based on what I heard today. This promises to be the new age of not only gaming, but entertainment, and frankly, I want in.
Let us know what you think about all this exciting news. Are you as pumped as we are about the new XBox One console, or not? What did we miss, or what do you hope to see or have answered at E3?
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Thanks for reading, 2013 promises to be an exciting year!