High-Def Digest Gets Ready for the Xbox One

Posted Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 08:30 AM PST by
Xbox One

Kick-off the launch week with one reviewer's take.

Xbox One Anticipation

The Xbox One is almost here. It won't be perfect. At times getting to know the ins and outs of the console is going to be frustrating and even disappointing. I can accept that, yet it's a new console and the little voice inside my head is all googly-eyed with anticipation. No hurdle nor hiccup is going to stave off the positive outlook that I have. Everything I write here extrudes from my unbridled hope for what the Xbox One can be to me, a gamer and consumer of all things entertainment. I have only a few days left to float happily in my ignorance. Be sure to check back after launch to see just how far I've fallen.


All the Possibilities

I'm not sure if I ever imagined blabbing commands at my home console. I certainly never hoped for the possibility, but in just a few days I'm going to do just that. Beyond 'Ryse: Son of Rome' and 'Battlefield 4,' beyond 'Crimson Dragon' and ' Need for Speed: Rivals,' all titles that I am greatly anticipating, I'm genuinely curious with how it's going to feel, commanding a stoic box to come alive and serve all my gaming needs.

Maybe in a past life I was a dictator. "Xbox On."


Kinected

Only slightly afraid of the power trip a subjugated box is going to imbue in me, I plan on taking command of my bedroom in a way only Microsoft thought up. Sony's Playstation 4 is an impressive machine in its own right. The games look beautiful and the sharing features seem pretty neat, but the PS4 doesn't do as I say. Microsoft is the only company delivering a servant. "Xbox, Play Battlefield 4. And dance while you're at it."

The Xbox One sounds like a lot of fun, says the devil inside me.

More importantly, and less alarming, are the ways the Kinect 2.0 and the Xbox One's advanced UI can augment and improve the all those little quirks of the ever more sophisticated gaming machines that have come forth over the last decade plus. With the new bundled of Xbox One features, signing in is supposedly as easy as showing your face to the camera. You can redeem an online code in much the same way.

Feature Creep

Apps run alongside games.

You can save a clip of your game with a simple voice command, no interruption needed.

You know have two tiers of Xbox Live friends. Followers can keep up with your gaming activities without being on your friends list.

None of these things are significant on their own, but they don't have to be. It's a package deal, consistent innovation ensured for the very simple fact that every console is coupled with a Kinect. Sony can't say that about their camera and it makes all the difference. A game developer doesn't have to make the decision to exclude the majority of potential buyers from the full product by including Kinect support, as was the case with the device's first incarnation.

The Kinect 2.0 and the Xbox are one. It's a wonderfully freeing proposition, the effects of which you can already see in the launch lineup. 'Battlefield 4' players can utilize head tracking to lean around corners and voice control to call for help without fumbling through the controller. For DICE it's all about streamlining the experience.


For Crytek, the team behind the Xbox One's most divisive title, 'Ryse: Son of Rome,' it's about upping the immersion factor. Screaming commands at your troops in the midst of an intense Roman battle, while potentially too goofy to be taken seriously, is an encouraging step in the right direction. 'Ryse' is likely to be a fun but fleeting experience, encouraging nonetheless. It's those little additions that make the experience, and Kinect enables an entirely new subcategory of nuanced upgrades.


Cloud Power

And then there's the cloud, which for many gamers is as tangible a benefit to their home console as extra RAM or improved network code. And though, due to Microsoft's reversal of certain policies, the company can't guarantee each and every Xbox One purchaser can regularly access the cloud, developers with an itch for the cutting edge are surely interested. Just look at Respawn Entertainment, a team built from the ashes of Infinity Ward's (of 'Call of Duty: Modern Warfare') downfall and looking to prove themselves.

They opted for Xbox One's cloud over PS4's native hardware superiority, because offloading computations in order to improve the online experience, a prerogative for their upcoming 'Titanfall,' is an opportunity never offered before and bursting with potential. 'Forza 5' is touting launch day cloud utilization by collecting player racing behavior in the cloud and pushing that back out into the AI, going for a more realistic simulation in the single player game than ever before. These are brand new ideas that make the Xbox One seem like a brand new console, not just an upgrade.


Controller Lust

The controller, on the other hand, needs no real upgrade. Sony has made great strides in catching up the near-perfect Xbox 360 controller. The DualShock 4 is a leap and a step from the DualShock 3. As the thing that needed catching up to, however, the Xbox One controller is set. The only uncertainty on that front are the rumble-enhanced triggers. We shall see. Or feel, more like.

The Multitude Becomes One

At this point, while it's far too late not to sound like an Xbox One spokesperson, it's never too late to say "I get it." These are all pieces of a puzzle not yet put together. The Kinect might be less German Shepherd and more Pomeranian in its reaction to commands. The cloud might be more destructive tornado and less fruitful downpour. Even if, even so, the games are and will be there, and Microsoft is going to keep making everything around them better.

I'm going into this with both eyes open, but nonetheless looking for an embrace.

"Xbox, please don't suck."

Author: Trevor Ruben

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Tags: Microsoft, Xbox, Xbox One (all tags)