So, the eagerly-anticipated ‘Xbox event’ has come and gone, and as always, it’s time for our impressions. Before I personally start, I would like to note that we do our impression pieces without taking into account any information that comes after, or in addition to, what was revealed at the actual event. This way, we let the press conferences speak for themselves, without any damage control. The only thing that I do want to mention at this time is that, contrary to all the rumors, the next Xbox is NOT going to be an always-online system, as confirmed by Don Mattrick, right after the show.
I will just come out and say this as honestly and plainly as I can: this event sucked ass. One can certainly argue that Microsoft did the right thing, in terms of purely announcing the system for everyone, before addressing gamers directly at E3, but purely as a gamer, this is what I have to say: the conference sucked major ass and it started doing so right from the very intro. Yes, that slick intro got me worried immediately, when a bunch of big names appeared on screen to inform me that I was about to enter into a “relationship” with my TV. Urghh… well, that pretty much summed up the entire press conference.
The first notable thing to happen was the reveal of the name – Xbox One. Interesting choice here, and I do get what they were going for (all the living room entertainment in one), but surely, I can’t be the only one expecting that name to create plenty of confusion. I mean, we already have an “xbox one” and it looks like this:
And that’s where another confusion will surely arise: the new Xbox will also be known as “the huge, ugly xbox”. Seriously, have you seen the thing yet? If anyone should have hidden the actual console at the reveal event, it would be Microsoft. Now, I don’t know what PS4 will look like but this thing looks like something out of a Kickstarter pitch, which promises to hire an actual designer if the goals are met.
But you know what? Whatever. I’m not going to be spending my endless gaming hours, looking at the system itself. They can give me a bunch of wires in a plastic shopping bag, for all I care, as long as it does awesome things. And what this thing does is apparently TV.
Based on Yusuf Mehdi’s comment about Comcast and the availability of some channel on his cable provider, it seems that you will still need to pay your local micro-monopoly, if you want to watch TV through Xbox One. What this system will really bring in form of its’ “intelligent TV” seems to me like a freaking voice-operated TV remote control.
Yusuf actually boasted how voice-switching between TV and a game was almost like pressing a button on a remote. So what the fuck is wrong with pressing a button? Who is this feature for, exactly? Edward Scissorhands?
If you ask me, the whole thing should have been a post scriptum type of ‘it also does this cool thing, by the way’ reveal. And you know what, I’m not too crazy about this little gimmick anyway. It seems that you can’t say shit in a room with Xbox One in it, lest you end up inadvertently subscribing to every porn channel for two years in advance, right in front of your kids. Or imagine going out of town and yelling to your housemate “hey, you turn everything off? Is the Xbox on?” It is now.
Then, things got a bit more interesting. The focus shifted to the actual console and the specs and… shit got murky. We got an 8 core CPU… of some kind. We got 8GB of RAM… of some kind. We got a GPU… of some kind. That isn’t a great sign, if you ask me. If those things were more powerful than what’s inside PS4, I’m sure that we’d hear the specifics there.
The confirmation of a Blu-Ray drive was interestingly subtle as well. It was as if the thing carried over from Xbox 360, with no hype whatsoever. Sure, it’s already a past generation technology but it is a first for Xbox, and a pretty significant shift from DVD at that.
Controller. Now we’re talking. I completely agree with Microsoft’s claim that the current Xbox controller is the best in the world. It may be a matter of opinion that you do not share but, well, it is mine. I’m glad that they are improving it in the subtle ways that count. The rubbery, ridged d-pads look fantastic and all that mumbo-jumbo about direct trigger feedback sounds interesting though not clear enough (and why??? why not elaborate on that shit?). Overall, I did like what I saw there.
Of course, Xbox Live is talked up and it’s more personal, more powerful, more blah blah blah. How about more free? There is nothing wrong with any of the additions or improvements but there was nothing wrong with Xbox Live to begin with, except for the fact that you have to pay to play multiplayer, of course. No mention of the cost, so I couldn’t care less, as expected.
Also, as expected, EA entered next, talking “partnership”. In other words, a bunch of EA sports games would have some unimportant DLC on Xbox One first, at best. I didn’t mind them being there, since it was a reveal of the next generation and EA was there to talk about the next generation, but most of their talk was some slick, overproduced bullshit. Really, I love Messi but who gives a shit what he has to say at a video game tech reveal? And the new engine, Ignite, was alright but I can’t honestly say that I was blown away. I saw the same plastic humanoids we see these days, moving as awkwardly as they do now:
Also, it doesn’t look that much better than current generation EA games:
Phil Spencer to the rescue. The most expected reveal of the night: Forza 5. CGI? Probably and still nothing to write home about so far. Quantum Break has a horrible trailer next, but it is Remedy entertainment so I’m willing to hold off judgement.
According to Spencer, there are more titles in development now than ever before, and 8 of them are brand new franchises, all promised for year one. It isn’t clear which ones are actual serious projects that are not some Kinect jackassery. It is clear here that there will be some serious game reveals at E3. Perhaps, that will be the press conference to watch. For now, Spencer leaves and…
…TV again! And Halo. And TV+Halo = Halo TV series. Spielberg’s involvement is not clear. Is he producing? Is he simply excited about this? I got a feeling that it’s both but no confirmation is made at the show. Then, more sports and that’s when everyone gave up holding on to their patience:
Again, everyone on stage promises an “incredible lineup” for E3, and I believe them, simply because there better fucking be an incredible lineup at E3. It’s not so much that there was a lack of game-talk here; it’s that MS talked about shit that few sane people would get truly excited for. It’s all gimmicky voice commands, more precise Kinect technology, Smartglass (oh yeah… forgot they talked about that), and promises of more information soon. The actual meat of it all was the name and the look of the console and that was, well, not as exciting as it could have been. All hope was for a grand finale, which came in the form of Call of Duty: Ghosts, revealed by my neighborhood pizza guy.
More exclusive DLC for Xbox. Sorry, but that’s not enough toppings and I’m leaving with a bad taste.
You better keep your promise at E3, Microsoft, or I’m going to Sony and I’m not looking back.