It’s been a terrible week for Microsoft. The long-awaited reveal of their next-gen console turned out to be a damp squib of television focus and Hollywood courting. It really laid out their stall in no uncertain terms: they want the Xbone to be The Blockbuster Console for movies, TV, music and big-name games. There’s no denying that their sights are set firmly on the Call Of Duty and FIFA set, the kind of players who just want their Friend Lists to carry over into a game that’s the same but shinier. However, for the rest of us, that leaves a bad taste in our mouths. The Xbone, for all its Kinect functionality and instant switching, will likely not be the place to find a wide variety of titles that further push back the boundaries of this medium. With the ball now deep in Sony’s court, all eyes will be on June’s E3 to see if they can seal the deal with actual, real games on display.
For now, here’s everything we know so far about Xbox One. All the truth, rumour and speculation in one place:
* It has 8GB of RAM, which is the same as PS4, except the usable bandwidth is actually much smaller in comparison. In addition, the OS will take a large chunk of this, maybe even up to 3GB.
* It has HDMI passthrough (meaning you can plug your cable box directly in) and a non-removable 500GB HDD. The USB 3.0 ports can be used for any kind of extra storage – games, movies or music.
* It has a Blu-Ray drive and every game will be fully installed onto the HDD. It will require an internet connection once a day, but will allow some degree of offline play.
* Developers will be able to offload some computations to the Cloud, allowing background textures to work this way while the console itself takes care of the main bulk of graphics/AI. (All well and good until the internet connect disappears, what then? Disappearing trees?)
* The controller is very similar to the current design, but has rumbling triggers, so a racing game will (in theory) feel different from a shooter. It is still battery powered instead of being rechargeable.
* It comes with Kinect 2.0 and its use is mandatory. The entirety of the console will be able to be controlled using gestures and voice commands, because reaching for the remote was always such a difficult task.
* There will be a fee to play pre-owned games, which will either be absorbed into a store’s price or will be something you’ll have to pay if you buy the game privately. The current estimate of the fee is around 35GBP. No internet connection will mean that you cannot play that game.
* The user interface is designed to reflect that of Windows 8, with gesture-controlled sweeping menus showing your the targeted movies, games and advertisements with solid colour blocks. There is also a “Trending” panel. Gah.
* Xbox Live Arcade and Xbox Indie Games sections are no more. It’s just “Games” and developers will not be allowed to self-publish (as is the model on Steam and PSN), meaning indie devs are already being driven away.
* There is no backwards-compatibility for any 360 game, physical or digital.
And finally, two crazy breaking rumours, both from [Eurogamer](www.eurogamer.net):
* Kinect will be able to talk back to you, like Siri or Knight Rider.
* There could be Achievements for watching certain TV programmes.
The rumour mill will continue to spin wildly until June 11th, when E3 finally gives some game-based answers and we might even get release dates/prices for both new consoles. What’s interesting is that both Sony and Microsoft are actually following two very different philosophies as to what this home console should be, so it should be easier to make a decision between them. As a gamer, as someone who loves interactive stories and fascinating worlds, I know where my money is probably heading.
Although, in reality, it’ll be the first company to say the words “Just Cause 3″…