Commentary: Xbox One Reveal

New-Xbox-One-ConsoleI’ve been trying to stay on top of things with the latest on Xbox One news, and it’s been difficult with certain life obligations getting in the way, but I’ve been doing a lot of reading and I’ve seen a lot of opinions on Microsoft’s upcoming console.  Positive, negative, neutral.  Something that seems to be pretty uniform, though, is the disappointment about the reveal event.  “Where were the games?!”  Everyone is asking.  Well, Microsoft answered that question even before the event took place.  The games are at E3.  The May 21 reveal was supposed to be about the system itself; they were pretty clear on that from the beginning, and it’s pretty ignorant to complain about the lack of games when they were upfront about what the reveal event would cover.  We got an Xbox One reveal–the next generation of Microsoft gaming is within reach.  With the hardware reveal taken care of, now we can focus on games in two weeks at E3.

Now that I’v got that rant out of the way, what are my thoughts on the system?  Well, it’s hard to say.  I’m almost positive that I’m going to buy the Xbox One at launch, but will I have the same enthusiastic dedication to this new iteration as I did to past Xboxes?

I’m never shy about admitting my fanboyism.  I love the Xbox.  It has the games I want, the system’s interface is user-friendly and intuitive, the online community is excellent (and when it’s not it’s just a simple button press to forever silence someone), and it works the way I want it to.  I’m also not shy about being vocal about my disappointments with the system over the past several years.  We’ve been starved for new IPs and exclusives, and we’re drowning in Kinect shovelware.  It’s been a pretty rough twilight for the 360, but I’m still a loyal customer.

With the Xbox One, it’s a whole new story.  They’ve got an internet connection requirement for every 24 hours for the system to operate, is attempting to curb used game sales by requiring a fee for additional user accounts to access a game, has an extended focus on everything not games, and is downright ugly.  Some of these things I can live with, but can everybody else?  Are the risks Microsoft taking with the Xbox One going to pay off for them, or will this system’s life be cut short due to the restrictions they’re putting on their customers?

Xbox-One3

Most of what we’re coming to know about the Xbox One has been expected.  We’ve been hearing rumors about an “always-on” system that attempts to block used game sales, but we were all hoping that these rumors would turn out to be unfounded.  In our modern time, it’s almost a given that you’ve got an internet connection at home, so what’s the big deal about a system that requires a connection every 24 hours?  Well, what if you don’t?  I’m not really living in an ideal area for a decent internet connection.  I’m not exactly financially stable.  How can I be certain that I’ll have an internet connection for the system by the time it releases?  I can’t be.  I’m primarily a single-player gamer and the fact that I’ll need to have an internet connection to play the games I want to play seems like an unnecessary restriction to force upon gamers.

The additional fee does and doesn’t bother me.  I don’t buy used games.  I refuse to.  So, for me, this isn’t a big deal since I’m going to be paying full price anyway.  However, I do like borrowing and lending games.  From the sounds of things, if you’re not logged into a system, then your buddy isn’t going to be able to access your game.  This seems to rule out lending unless you’re going to lend yourself out, too.  This is ridiculous.  Microsoft said something about incorporating a trading system in the future which will allow gamers to trade their titles with friends over Live, but they said this is something their “working on” and, as such, it’s safe to assume the feature won’t be available at system launch.  It would be nice to have a “lend” feature if you do decide to let a friend borrow a game; a feature that disables the game on your account temporarily and activates it on your friend’s account thereby giving him or her access to the game you own.  Will it happen?  I don’t know.  If it did, would it be a completely unnecessary hurdle to jump to enjoy a buddy’s game without having to go out and buy it yourself?  Absolutely.

Those are the big negatives I have against the system so far.  And they’re pretty big.  While I might be able to live with them, how will the rest of the gaming world feel about them?  My guess is:  not very welcoming.  I’ve got the feeling that a lot of dedicated Xbox users will be migrating to Sony’s platform if it can promise gamers traditional console experiences without all of these ridiculous restrictions.

QuantumBreakSo, why, with all of that, would I still be willing to buy an Xbox One?  Because it’s still going to have the games I want, the service I love, and the controller I find to be the most comfortable (just so you know, I love the controller redesign; it looks sleek and comfy).  I’m dedicated to the universe of Halo, I’m looking forward to the next game from Remedy Entertainment because I’m a huge fan of their past creations, I’m dying to see what Crytek has in store with Ryse or if Rare will make a comeback as a AAA game developer (instead of a Kinect pusher working on Avatar clothes).  Microsoft promised 15 exclusives in the first year alone, and I’m excited to see what they have in store.  I love Xbox Live–it’s an amazing service that is constantly defining what I expect from an online community service.  The features they showed off with the fluid app switching and multitasking was impressive and something that I’m sure I’ll use liberally.  Sure, one can argue that the Xbox One is basically a controller-operated PC, but is that really a bad thing?  As long as RYSEthe flashy features don’t get in the way of what really matters–the games–then I’m okay with having an all-in-one box.  The convenience of it all is something worth having, just as long as I get my games, too.

I am questioning the decisions Microsoft has made with the Xbox One, and I’m certainly not pleased with all of them.  I’m not embracing the system with the enthusiasm I thought I would as a dedicated fanboy, but I’m still looking forward to having one.  The months ahead will really determine if the next Xbox will be my go-to entertainment system or if I’ll be using it sparingly for console exclusives as I migrate to Sony’s PS4.  Time will tell and as disappointing as some things seem right now, it’s too early to say for certain just how much of a con all of the restrictions are.  In the end, it really comes down to the games.  Which system will have the games I want to play?  With E3 just over two weeks away, it should be long to find out which system has the larger, more enticing lineup.

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Bungie lays down the Law of the Jungle in new Destiny trailer

The first official trailer that’s not a press conference showing or a vidoc is now online.  The trailer promises a gameplay reveal of Bungie’s upcoming Destiny at Sony’s E3 press conference.

Live-Action HALO Television Series Announced

Microsoft has officially announced an original Halo television series for their Xbox One entertainment system.  The program will be headed by award-winning director Stephen Spielberg.

Rumor: Destiny to Feature Micro-Transactions

An Activision employee’s LinkedIn profile has been updated to include certain information of his work on Bungie’s upcoming Destiny.  Said employee, one Ryan Wener, is listed as “Senior Director, Product Management” with Activision and is “leading marketing activities for the hotly-anticipated new gaming universe Destiny.”  Beneath that bullet point, however, is listed his work in “monetization modeling.”  This has led to some speculation as to whether Bungie’s upcoming sci-fi shooter will feature micro-transactions in its business model.

Nothing has been announced, but given that micro-transactions in games are more and more common these days, it wouldn’t be a surprise.  Activision is publishing Destiny, so an in-game monetization platform would be a shock to no one.

Destiny is currently in development at Bungie for Xbox 360, PS3, and PS4; a version for the next Xbox has not been officially announced, but it would be safe to assume that it’s headed there, too.  No release date or window has been given for the game at this time.

 

Sources:  Destructoid, LinkedIn

Halo Gets New Comic Series & Director of Global Marketing

Dark Horse Comics will be releasing a new Halo comic miniseries.  Titled Halo: Initiation, the series will follow Spartan IV Sarah Palmer in her ODST days and will chronicle her service in becoming the first Spartan IV commander; her character was first introduced in Halo 4.  Halo: Initiation is being written by Brian Reed who previously worked on the comic book adaptation of Halo: Fall of Reach as well as the screenplay for Halo 4.

In other Halo news, Epic Games’ global marketing lead Kendall Boyd has parted with Epic in order to work at Microsoft Studios as the Director of Halo Global Marketing.  He has shipped over 35 games at Epic as well as EA Sports and THQ.

 

Sources:  Major Spoilers, Destructiod (1), (2)

Elysium Trailer

A trailer for Neill Blomkamp’s upcoming science fiction film Elysium has been released.  This is Blomkamp’s first filme since his 2009 feature film debut with the Academy Award nominated District 9.  Elysium stars Matt Damon and is scheduled for an August 9 release this year.

Bungie’s Destiny Revealed

Bungie has finally stepped out from the shadows to reveal their first post-Halo console project.  Set in a future where Earth has been all but destroyed, Destiny places players in the boots of a soldier–a guardian of the city built beneath “The Traveler”–tasked with saving the city.  What little is shown in this video looks incredibly promising, it’s great to see Jason Jones again, and Bungie will, no doubt, deliver an amazing gaming experience over the next decade.  Destiny Awaits: