E3 2013 Impressions: Xbox One

Microsoft and Sony have laid their cards on the table and delivered exciting presentations showcasing the new consoles and games we’ll be getting our hands on in the coming months, and in some cases, years.

Xbox One with Kinect

In the months leading up to the big reveals, there have been several rumours circulating in regards to restrictions imposed on Microsoft’s new console, unfortunately they pretty much all turned out to be true. On the other hand, there really hasn’t been much speculation about Sony’s new baby, which had me a bit worried. No one seemed to be asking them about the important stuff that Microsoft had been under the microscope for. Would PS4 end up having the same types of game licensing restrictions as Xbox One in the end? Are we (the gaming community) screwed either way? Nope! It would seem that Sony is our saviour at the moment, with Xbox One’s main points of concern being directly addressed in Sony’s presentation, and received by thunderous applause. I, sitting alone in my living room, nearly leapt from my couch with excitement as Jack Tretton (President and CEO of SCEA) went down the list.

Xbox One Controller

Heading into E3, I was very much on the fence with both parties. Xbox One has all of these shitty restrictions on games, sketchy business in regards to requiring the console to check-in once every 24 hours, and a mandatory Kinect sensor. But the hardware’s nice, and they will no doubt have games lined up for some of my most beloved franchises. We hadn’t even seen the actual PS4 console yet, and none of the concerns with Xbox One have even been discussed by Sony. But they have a Killzone game at launch, the new controller actually looks pretty sweet, and I loved how their announcement presentation was all about games, with little focus on other mediums like music, movies, and television services.

This is a two-part article, and I’m going to focus on Microsoft’s new console from here out.

Microsoft’s Xbox One Presentation

It kicked off with a lengthy Metal Gear Solid 5 announcement trailer, which I’m sure had a lot of people excited. But I’ve never been a fan of the series, and while the trailer for this new open world game did raise my eyebrows at least a couple of times, I probably won’t end up playing it once it’s released. So bummer, right off the bat. A slew of other trailers were shown, of which only a few really resonated with me. Of the exclusive titles…

  • Forza Motorsport 5
    I love me some Forza, but I’ve played so many racing games (and every single Forza title to date) over the years, and find it hard to get truly excited about them anymore. Launch title, but not a system seller for me.
  • Quantum Break
    Looks like it could be cool, but still very little is actually known about it. The supposed in-game footage they showed today didn’t look like actual game-play at all. Due out some time in 2014.
  • Ryse: Sons of Rome
    They did a proper stage demo for this game, and I was quite impressed. Some brutally violent hack-and-slash action, with cool squad based mechanics. This is a launch title I would probably pick-up.
  • Dead Rising 3
    Meh. I’m glad it’s going an entirely new direction, as Dead Rising 2 seemed extremely lazy, but when I heard the words “open world” and “zombies” in the same sentence, I groaned like a zombie myself.
  • TitanFall
    This looks rad! It’s developed by a new studio formed by some of the founding members of Infinity Ward. Jetpacks, mechs that rain down from the sky, huge explosions, big battles. Totally looks like it would be a blast. Exclusive title, but not set to release until 2014.
  • There were a few other exclusives shown, both in demo form and trailer, but none of them really hit home. Oh, and a new Halo game was teased, which is looking like it will see the light of day some time in 2014.

Some of the details pertaining to the console and Xbox Live…

  • A new Xbox 360 was revealed, and in stores today. No idea why.
  • Game licensing is very strict. Once purchased, physical discs can only be traded-in to approved retailers. If you want to give or sell a game to a friend, they have to have been on your Xbox Live friends list for 30 days, and games can only be transfered once. Lending games, renting games, and private sales (eBay, etc.) are not supported.
  • Kinect (camera/microphone) ships with every console and must be plugged in for the console to work.
  • Online connection is required, as the console must check-in once every 24 hours. If you’re playing on a friend’s console, it verifies your user account every hour.
  • No more Microsoft Points! They’re doing away with them in favour of real currency. Thank you!
  • Xbox Live account will carry over to Xbox One, and can be used on both Xbox One and Xbox 360 moving forward.
  • From July 1st until Xbox One is released, Gold members will receive two free games per month. Examples of these free games include Fable III, Halo 3, and Assassin’s Creed II. While they’re all old games, they’re big titles and worth your time.
  • Partnership with Twitch to allow real-time streaming from the console. This is a pretty cool feature, and something I can see myself using on this here blog.
  • $499 at launch.

As you can see, there are plenty of positive points, but also a good amount of negative. At the moment, I’m not sold on Xbox One. Not at launch, anyway. I will no doubt pick one up at some point, as I can see it being my secondary console, where I only buy the exclusive titles for it. Funny, because the roles are reversed in my living at the moment, with Xbox 360 being my primary console, and PS3 only being used to play exclusives and Blu-ray movies. How times have changed!

What’s your stance now that everything is out in the open? Are you going to be pre-ordering a console or picking one up at launch? I’d love to hear what console you currently prefer, and which you’re most interested in for next-gen.

If you missed the press conference and want to watch it yourself, here you go…

25 Comments

  1. I only had one reason to even look at the Xbox One, which was Titanfall. Since they announced that it’s also launching for PC, I don’t have to bother any more! The Kinect and online requirements are too much to ask. Haven’t considered the PS4 as I’ve always been an Xbox gamer, before moving to PC and if I were to supplement that with a console, it would most likely be Xbox, where my friends and exclusives are.

    • I went the other way, from PC to console. Primarily because I was sick of the ongoing expenses due to the need to constantly upgrade hardware. But also, DRM was really starting to hamper the experience. Funny enough, that’s one of the Xbox One’s biggest issues at the moment.

      The main reason I won’t even consider PC gaming now though, is that I spend 8-12 hours at my desk every day, and can’t even fathom spending more time in this chair. Love kicking back on my couch with a controller in hand. That said, some of the compact gaming PCs look decent. Steam is also super enticing.

      • DRM isn’t a big deal at all when you play through Steam. I don’t buy disks, and I love their deals (not that I always get to take advantage of them). When I’m in the living room, it’s with my family – not gaming. I like being able to switch back and forth when I just need a quick break from working on something.

      • I agree with Anton. DRM done well isn’t painful. I think we’ve just been exposed to so many poor implementations that we instinctively cringe at the idea. I don’t think DRM is a nail in the coffin for the Xbox One at this point, but it could be a deciding factor come launch.

  2. I’m with Dave – Ever since moving my gaming over to PC, I haven’t even touched the 360. In fact, it’s been moved to my son’s room, where he does all of his gaming now.

    I am pretty hyped about the PS4 news though. That machine looks tight.

  3. Unfortunately it’s looking bad for the Xbox One. Too many restrictions on the gaming section of this console will probably lose customers. There’s a strong focus on entertainment which according to the market certainly seems to be attracting new customers, I’m just not sure that’s THE reason to pick up an Xbox One.

    When it comes to Sony, I’ve played on all three consoles and have had a consistently good experience on each. Yes the PS3 is lacking in the online community that is Xbox Live but I’m hoping with the PS4 they finally rectify that situation.

    • Indeed, I’m hoping the community aspects are vastly improved for the PS4. They’re basically non-existent at the moment, with the exception of a friends list.

    • Are you referring to the “online pass” that many games require? Yes, that’s still a possibility. I know EA has done away with them, so hopefully the rest of the big publishers will follow.

      • I hope so, and hope that Xbox rethinks their position on it. That being said, I don’t believe it will really affect me as much as others, as I don’t buy a whole lot of games, and when I do, I don’t buy used. Though, I have rented some from Redbox, but I don’t really do that much anymore either.

  4. For me, over the past few generations, Sony consoles have always been secondary. I have always owned them, and enjoyed their various exclusive titles, but they haven’t been my go to for everyday gaming. Coming into this latest generation of consoles, I had intended to buy only one console, and I was excited to see which of the big two would really click with me.

    Although the PS4 seems to the clear winner for the hardcore or dedicated gamer demographic, I’ve realized that I may no longer be part of that group. After watching yesterday’s press events and taking a little time to reflect on my current console usage, I’ve realized that myself and my family spend more time watching Netflix, Hulu, and playing Kinect games (with my two young kids, ages 1.5 and 3), than I do using the console to play the standard fare of blockbuster titles.

    That being said, I do have my concerns about the privacy and licensing with the Xbox One. While traditional gaming my not be my primary use case for a console these days, it’s still one of the core features I look for in a console. Right now, I’m hesitant, but I intend to buy an Xbox One on day one as an all around media center for my family. After yesterday’s events though, there’s a good chance that a PS4 will end up in my office as my personal gaming console.

    • It’s a tough decision this time around, as these consoles are so much more than just gaming devices, as you’ve pointed out. For me though, gaming is and will remain its primary purpose in my living room. I have a Boxee Box and Apple TV I use for local and streaming content.

      I’m in the same boat though, with having a family who also use these consoles. Even my wife is into gaming, albeit pretty occasional these days. Since neither of the next-gen consoles are truly backwards compatible (Sony is said to have a streaming service for PS3 games), I’ll be hanging onto my Xbox 360s and PS3.

      • I think Halo had me locked into the Xbox early on. I followed the development of Halo when it was originally intended to be a PC game. I enjoyed games on PS2, but the Xbox still got more use playing with friends and what not.

        • I had an original Xbox as well (still have it), but I played it mostly for KOTOR and Fable. I didn’t really fall into the Halo camp until I got a 360, since I tend to prefer RPGs than shooters.

  5. I have been loyal to Xbox since the release of the first one. After these announcements I’m jumping ship. They have really shot themselves in the foot with their ‘iron fist’ mentality. It’s Microsoft all over though really. Everything they do, when they do it good for some unknown reason they ball’s it up.

    • It almost seems like Microsoft is being cocky. Knowing that they own this generation of gaming, it’s as if they feel like they can do whatever they want with no consequence. And while I know there will be the die hard fans who buy whatever they release blindly, there are plenty of people, myself included, who are not part of that crowd.

  6. I missed the event, so this was a nice run down. From the reaction, I’m also swaying towards PS4 at the moment, which is surprising as I’ve been a 360 fangirl for the past 7 years. I’m quite upset Microsoft has seemingly got it so wrong, but only time will tell.

  7. Always interesting to read your blog posts Matt. Now, following people on Twitter and reading comments all over the place, people talk about these consoles and policies and restrictions (or the lack thereof) in a very general sense, but very, very few actually mention anything about them from a personal perspective.

    I am actually more worried about Sony’s PS4 than I am about the Xbox One, and this for the sole reason of how I use my consoles:

    - I turn my Xbox 360 on practically every single day and as soon as it boots up, it connects automatically. So, how does that differ from how the Xbox One is going to work, and more importantly, be used in my living room? It doesn’t. Xbox One may actually be of benefit here as it could do all and any updates necessary (including for games) while I’m not using it, which ultimately means everything is ready to go when I actually do want to play.

    - I don’t buy used games, I don’t rent games and I don’t even borrow games from anyone because people on my friends list are either actual friends in my city that buy the same games so we can play online, or people from other countries, in which case, borrowing and lending games is of no interest to me.

    - Kinect always connected? Sure, but you can stop the feed, so I have no issues with it.

    The one thing that keeps me going back to PlayStation is Sony’s first-party line-up. It is very impressive, though it was anything but that during their press conference yesterday. Infamous Second Son is the only game I’m currently interested in, and they didn’t even show any gameplay of it. Where were those 20 exclusive first-party games Jack Tretton talked about? So you tell me, what good is the “openness” of the platform if I barely have any games to play on it?

    I thought Sony’s media briefing was weak, rendered annoyingly oblivious to people by the last 10 minutes in which they took a direct shot at Microsoft’s policies. In addition, PS+ will be required to play online, which I wouldn’t be bothered by if it wasn’t for the… let’s say, “less than satisfactory” online experience I’ve had on PS3. Free, sure, but that means nothing if it doesn’t work as well as it should.

    And again, I’m talking from a personal experience here… but if Sony wants to win me over, they have to show me things I actually care about.

    • Some good points here, Sebastian. Most importantly, that people’s reasons for aligning with MS or Sony are different depending on their own needs and desires.

      One thing I’d like to point out, is that PS3 already does automatic updates in the background with a PS+ membership. Mine runs between 4am-6am every morning and installs OS updates, and applies game patches, so I never have to wait for game updates anymore.

      I’m happy to pay for my PS+ membership, for the free games alone. As of today, Uncharted 3, LittleBigPlanet Karting, and XCOM: Enemy Unknown have been added to instant game collection. This is on top of the dozen or so full games that are already available for free. What was Microsoft’s response? Fable III for Gold members, and 2 (old) games per month until Xbox One launches. Not good enough. PS+ packs way more value, and is cheaper to boot.

      I feel like Microsoft have been taking steps in the wrong direction for years now. Or at least, not in the direction I (and other core gamers) want to see them heading. Sony seems to have picked up on that, and are doing everything in their power to gain the confidence and respect of that core gaming demographic. They’ve totally sold me already, and this is without even seeing the full launch line-up.

      • Fair points. I am admittedly not completely aware of everything that PS+ does offer, but even though free games and automatic updates (which I didn’t know it did) are a big plus, that is arguably a secondary point to me. How about the community service itself? I mean, something as integral as being able to jump into a party to talk with friends while playing games, regardless of what those may be? And the quality of that line of communication? I just don’t get that on PlayStation now, and I haven’t heard anything that’s going to change with PS4 yet. In fact, when I played Uncharted 3 online with friends, we used the Xbox 360 and party chat while playing it.

        That said, I have to agree that Microsoft seems to have shift focused a bit. Or actually, they haven’t. Right from the get-go, as in before the original Xbox, they said they wanted to take over the living room. If games are part of it, then so be it, but they’ve always strived to create a media hub, much like the Xbox One, that can do everything… an all-in-one box. I wouldn’t be surprised if they consider Google and Apple to be their main competition right now, instead of Sony.

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