Metal Arcade’s Xbox One Impressions
Metal Arcade writers react to Microsoft’s unveiling of the Xbox One. Did it measure up to our expectations for a next-gen console?
So after a ton of hype, the next generation Xbox hardware was revealed on May 21st. Dubbed the Xbox One, it’s had many gamers up in arms over the fact that it just doesn’t seem catered towards gamers. Sure it has upgraded hardware, and there is indeed a slot where game disks can be inserted – but the conference’s focus on DVR-esque aspects and Microsoft’s assertion that we gamers all have massive cases of ADD caught me off guard. Switching between games, movies, Skype, etc. with Snap seems cool if it all actually works as well as it was showcased, but I would imagine that all that multitasking puts a lot of strain on the 5 GB of available RAM (3GB is dedicated to OS). Unless the 3GB reserve is for these particular functions. Will the Minority Report-style swiping and shrinking work as well as it was demoed? Probably not, if past presentations for Kinect are any indication.
Even if it does, the real question is whether or not it’s even necessary. Most gamers probably have a smartphone, laptop, or other dedicated device that they can use to make a call or check movie showtimes while gaming or watching a movie. It all reminds me of this scene in Talladega Nights: “Why do you want to listen to the TV with the stereo on?”
“Cause I like to party?”
The new controller and trigger resistance are interesting, if they can implement it properly – same goes for the upgraded Kinect. However, the console checks every 24 hours to make sure the system is online, and we’ve seen recently the kind of backlash this kind of oppressive DRM is getting with SimCity. Used games are essentially useless as you have to pay full MSRP for each user license, and all games have to be installed to the hard drive, which will probably be full in no time. If Sony ends up not charging for used game licenses, they have a huge opportunity to wipe out their competition entirely. While not a huge issue, that name, Xbox One, is lame and confusing. Just like many now refer to the original PlayStation as PlayStation One or PSOne, a lot of people would probably think Xbox One refers to the original debut console.
Beyond that, the few games that were shown either looked only marginally better than the current Xbox 360 or flat-out pre-rendered in other cases. Not to sound like a fanboy, but the PlayStation 4’s real-time demos of Killzone 4 and inFamous: Second Son were much more awe-inspiring. Besides, we all know the next Need For Speed and Call of Duty are coming to PS4. Hopefully Microsoft has some decent exclusives to show off at E3.
Even though I’m a proud PS3 owner (and huge admirer of all things Nintendo), I was pretty excited to hear about the upcoming Xbox console. The unveiling of the Xbox One was simply disappointing. The name Xbox One reminds me too much of the PSOne. What does that make the first Xbox console? Should we refer to it as the Xbox 180? The fact that you have to pay a fee to play used games on the console makes my head explode. Hopefully, the PS4 doesn’t pull off the same nonsense in regard to used games. Will the Xbox One share the same disappointing fate as the poorly-selling Wii U? Only time will tell.
For the most part, I’m a sucker for press conferences and tech unveilings. Something about the cheesy, staged dialogue, and the imminent risk of live product failure just sucks me in. So without a doubt I went into Tuesday’s Xbox reveal with some pretty great expectations. And while I’m not quite sure the long-time Microsoft fan in me wants to be as critical as most of the showing, there were still plenty of shortcomings that came along with the event. From the lack of games, to the extreme focus on television and social interaction (it’s a gaming console first and foremost, isn’t it?), I left my couch after an hour and a half with a bit of a sour taste in my mouth. And to top it all off, a swirl of horrifying used game and always-on rumors reared their ugly heads following the show.
But then I had two revelations. First, and certainly most important to me, was the realization that the Electronic Entertainment Expo is only a few weeks away. And E3, especially in past years, has overwhelmingly been all about the games. So the lack of fresh digital content in Redmond on Tuesday seems like a non-issue when we’re less than a month away from seeing an onslaught of new IP’s and sequels. Then, my next thought involved recalling the Sony Playstation 4 press event from a few months back, and how much I thought it stumbled and face-planted, too. Sure, we saw some big name titles from the Killzone and Infamous franchises, but the majority of the conference was dragged down by mindless tech demos, unexciting indie titles, and a lack of actual hardware presentation. So I’d say with some confidence that the stage is set for a bloodbath at E3. Sony will be under pressure to reveal their actual next-gen console design, as well as how the interface and feature-set all comes together. And on the other hand, Microsoft owes its consumers a bevy of game content, as well as some clarification on the troubling rumors surrounding its Xbox One. Something tells me that after June 13th, I’ll have a pretty good idea of where my next-gen money is going…
As a fan of the Xbox, I also feel let down by the reveal of the Xbox One. First of all, what kind of name is that? I understand that Microsoft wants to push it as an all-in-one entertainment system, but it is still an underwhelming title to me, and ironic considering that some people call the original Xbox that. Otherwise, I also feel cheated since it does not support backwards compatibility; that alone is enough to turn me away from a next-gen console. I will still eventually buy it for Halo 5 and 6, along with Destiny, but otherwise I am not terribly excited about what is being offered by the Xbox One. Even then, I plan to serve a mission for the LDS Church at the end of the year – around the same time as this console’s release – so it’s also hard to get excited about it in that sense.
It seems that after EA’s first good business decision in who knows how long (dropping Online Passes), everyone else has now caught the mysterious moron bug. Take Microsoft, who, in place of any actual gameplay, decided to sell us the Xbox One with its ability to watch TV, use Skype, browse the Internet, and listen to music while watching movies, all of which are things my SmartTV can do. In a nutshell, with the Xbox One, I can now watch TV on my TV. Yo, dawg…
Of course, they dedicated a decent amount of time to talking about the console’s specs, in which they went into a good amount of detail, but what irritated me to no end was when Activison’s CEO Eric Hirshberg revealed the new Call of Duty game, when he said, “The gameplay you are about to see is running in-engine on the new Xbox hardware…” and then proceeded to show us a two-minute, prerendered trailer. Just how stupid do they think we are, that they thought we would not notice?!
In conclusion, Microsoft and all those involved in the press conference completely missed the point with their presentation. They did state throughout the conference that they had more to announce at E3, so hopefully they will show us some actual games and gameplay there, now that they have gotten the social gimmicks out of the way.