If you’ve only just arrived from an alternate reality or an alien planet or something, last night Microsoft yanked the Shroud of Rumours, Speculation, and Totally Made-Up Stuff +5 from its next-gen console, the Xbox One, and showed it off to the world for the very first time. Not that it’s put a stop to the rumours, speculation, and totally made-up stuff, so for your convenience, I’ve cross-checked all the important information once, twice, and three hundred times to make sure everything here is absolutely 100% guaranteed accurate and true-fact, or at least until it’s not. I mean, the bombs could drop tomorrow and we’d all be forced into underground bunkers forever.
Introducing “the all-in-one system for every living room”
It even looks like a VCR from 1986, which of course in 1986 was the definitive “all-in-one system for every living room” so it has a kind of authentic legacy right here, right now in the future.
While the reveal event was largely comprised of new(ish) features like TV, TV, TV, sports, TV, sports, sports, TV, sports, Call of Duty, and a battle-dog, there’s also a new game from Remedy called Quantum Break (but not Alan Wake 2… yet) and another Forza in case you blinked and missed it. Also, sports and TV, including a new Halo TV series produced by Steven Spielberg, so that’s quite exciting.
Expect to see more games announced at E3 next month – Xbox department prez Don Mattrick promised 15 Xbox One exclusive titles in the first year after launch, eight of which are apparently brand new IPs. He did not confirm, however, whether all eight of those would be motion-controlled pet simulators and/or fitness games things.
It’s not backwards-compatible
We already knew this in our hearts, but now it’s real. The swap from PowerPC to x86 architecture means that Xbox 360 games (including Xbox LIVE Arcade games) will not be playable on the Xbox One, although whether or not some sort of emulation support will be provided at a later date remains to be seen. Original Xbox games were not initially playable on the Xbox 360, but subsequent system updates added emulation support for most of them.
Xbox 360 controllers and accessories will not work with the Xbox One either. Fortunately enough, because the Xbox One is not backwards-compatible, the box of Xbox 360 controllers and accessories under your coffee table won’t be going in the bin just yet. That works out nicely, huh?
Even 12 hours after the event, it’s impossible to get a straight, lucid answer from anybody over at Microsoft about the Xbox One’s DRM scheme, but what we do know is that game ownership is linked to a single user’s Xbox LIVE profile with a unique activation code. This is more or less the same way that PC platforms like Steam and Origin work, except that console gamers are used to swapping games so this is now also a pangalactic-scale mega-drama.
In an interview with Eurogamer that’s been subsequently copy-pasted on the entire Internet, Microsoft vice-prez Phil Harrison said that sharing Xbox One games will be exactly the same as sharing Xbox 360 games, then went on to explain how it was actually completely different and that if you borrow the game from a friend “then you have to pay for it”. Further complicating matters, the official Xbox Twitter has denied this, and the latest word from Xbox LIVE overlord Larry Hryb is that, “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.”
So, basically, it’s one big “dunno, lol”.
In happier news, you’ll now be able to install a game to the hard drive and then play it without having the disc in the drive.
No always-online, most of the time
Put simply, the Xbox One requires an Internet connection, just not a permanent one – for example, you’ll need to sign in to Xbox LIVE to activate a new game. There are currently unconfirmed reports that the Xbox One has to connect to the Internet once per day. If you don’t have an Internet connection, the Xbox One is not the one for you.
Better with Kinect
And not just better but mandatory because, as previously rumoured, every Xbox One console comes standard with a Kinect sensor and won’t work without it. The new Kinect sensor has been significantly upgraded to capture and process data at two gigabits per second, massively reducing input lag and increasing accuracy. With Kinect, the Xbox One responds to voice commands – including a totally sci-fi “Xbox, on” console boot command – and gestures for OS navigation and control, and supports video broadcasting for Skype.
Your neighbours will still think you’re the mad person who talks to themselves all the time. In a way, you are.
New! Improved! Now with more stuff you didn’t know you’d always wanted! – Bullet-point edition
Most obviously, the Xbox One controller. It looks somewhat similar to the Xbox 360 controller, but according to the marketing script it features “over 40” innovations, including a built-in battery, trigger rumble, and redesigned D-pad.
The console has a built-in 500GB hard drive, with additional storage supported via USB devices.
Cloud storage is provided for user profiles, game saves, media content, and (vaguely alluded to) added computing power.
The Xbox LIVE friend list capacity will be increased from 100 to 1000.
There’s a built-in DVR for recording, editing, and sharing gameplay videos. The DVR cannot be used to record live TV, however.
It has a Blu-ray drive!
Around the Xbox One launch, Microsoft will be expanding its Xbox LIVE network infrastructure from 15,000 to 300,000 servers around the world. Your existing Xbox 360 LIVE user profile (plus Xbox LIVE Gold subscription, achievements, and gamerscore) will be compatible with Xbox One, and users on both consoles will be able to communicate with each other. No cross-platform play, though.
Just show me a spec comparison chart with the PlayStation 4 so I have numbers to quote in YouTube comments