I Finally Got My Hands On The Xbox One

Last Thursday night at the 2013 Xbox Comic-Con Media Showcase, I got my first hands-on time with the Xbox One. I was pleased — well, mostly pleased. Having manned home base during both E3 and Microsoft's initial Xbox One reveal for the past few months, the extent of my experience with the console has been second hand. I read the accounts of my colleagues. I looked at pictures. I watched gameplay videos. I was a well-informed spectator.

And now like so many gamers attending the 2013 San Diego Comic-Con, I've touched Microsoft's upcoming console. I've felt the sleek contours of its controller. I've squeezed its responsive triggers. I've played fifteen minutes of Crytek's Ryse: Son of Rome.

I've cultivated a slightly more informed opinion, and that opinion is "hmm." Perhaps I should elaborate.

I'm quite impressed with Ryse: Son of Rome, despite the negative press the game's been garnering lately. Sure, the portion of the game we've seen and I've now played focuses heavily on pressing the face buttons of the new Xbox One controller in time, the battles I fought were rather satisfying, in a completely brutal sort of way.

The graphics are pretty intense, and there's a ton of stuff going on throughout the demo — little events and interactions easy to miss in the heat of battle. I get the feeling the demo I played barely scratched the surface of Crytek's Xbox One title.

I'm also pretty impressed with the game's producer, Justin Robey. If I were a game developer, I'd be him, and it would be awkward for everyone involved.

What I am not impressed by is the Xbox One. The design is great (I love rectangles), the controller is a near-perfect evolution of the Xbox 360 pad and I'm sure we'll eventually see some of its power and cloud computing enhancements come into play.

For now it just doesn't feel like a next-gen system to me.

Maybe it was my game choices. Along with Ryse I played a couple rounds of the new Killer Instinct, where the bulk of the system's power seemed to be dedicated to producing spectacular special effects. It's very frantic and pretty, but nothing that couldn't run on an Xbox 360 without trimming away much in the way of gameplay and visuals.

Graphics aren't everything, of course. It's just that I'm used to seeing a more dramatic step up from one generation to the next. When the original Xbox gave way to the Xbox 360, there was no mistaking one system's games for the other's. Even the worst Xbox 360 launch titles were distinctively Xbox 360 games, plastic-looking textures and all.

I don't expect I'll feel the difference between the two system until I get up to my virtual elbows in Xbox One's guts later this year. I'm beginning to understand why our first introduction to the Xbox One focused on cable TV and streaming video and second-screen tech — it's the experience between and beyond the games that will define this console, and until I have a chance to sit down with that bit, I'm standing by my "hmmm".


Comments

    Breaking news: launch titles for new system not that impressive compared to late releases from current gen. We have only seen this incredible phenomenon five times previously.

      He does say that wasn't the case when it went from xbox 1 to 360. Not sure if you read the whole article.

      "When the original Xbox gave way to the Xbox 360, there was no mistaking one system’s games for the other’s. Even the worst Xbox 360 launch titles were distinctively Xbox 360 games, plastic-looking textures and all."

        Yeah, I read it, and he's either wrong or an idiot. There were games that looked great on the Xbox and some of the launch titles for the 360 were complete ass.

        Last edited 24/07/13 2:48 pm

          Yeah actually that is true. It always takes a couple of years to get up to speed. I mean when the Super Nintendo and Megadrive came out they had arcade and Neo-Geo games to port to them so you got that instant wow factor. Since arcade games haven't progressed for the past 15 years thats no longer the case.

          I genuinely liked this response, glad im not the only one to harshly point out silly things in Kotaku articles :P

          Personally every single video i have seen looks definitively next gen, you can see an immense difference across the board from lighting, shadows and other on screen effects and the polygon count is basically enormous by comparison. If you ever saw a current gen version, of the ps4 character "knack", even a laymen could tell the immeasurable difference.

          Just compare Elder scrolls screens of Morrowind to Oblivion as seen here.
          http://thedlm.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Oblivion-and-Morrowind-vs.-Skyrim-Characters.jpg

          Its about the same difference we are getting currently in jumps from 360 - XB1. The largest difference of course is the Oblivion to skyrim which show how much more juice can be pushed out from a machine after a few years.

          For another example, I Just upgraded my PC monitor from a 1680 res to 1920 HD IPS monitor and yet my less than knowledgeable friend said "it looks the same" Despite the leap being extraordinarily profound.

          I sounds like the author is one of those people who can't even notice the difference between 30 and 60 fps, in which case he really shouldn't be commenting on such a thing.

          Rubbish.

          DOES NO ONE REMEMBER PERFECT DARK ZERO?!

    I think anybody expecting to be blown away by launch titles on any new system is likely to be disappointed. Launch games on 360 / PS3 didn't look much better than the latter PS2/XB games, other than having a bit of an HD sheen to them. Hell, I'd argue that God of War 2 on PS2 looked better than any of the PS3 / 360 launch titles.

    But then you compare the launch titles to what came later on and it's hard to believe they're all running on the same hardware.

      I think this was true for all "next gen" titles. Truth of the matter is most of these games can still run on last gen systems with watered down detail.

      Example: Watch_Dogs, Destiny etc.

      I think we will see those completely next gen titles, when they start ditching the last gen, and start creating stuff for the new baseline hardware only. But overall, I think we'll see those improvements quicker than last time, because they made it easier to program for this time around.

      In the end it all depends on adoption rate for the new consoles, if they have a very poor adoption rate, most games [specially the big budget ones] will be still made to work on the last gen platforms.

      Last edited 24/07/13 1:28 pm

    Both consoles seem to be lacking those 'wow-factor' graphics in their launch titles. Which makes it all the more annoying that MS ditched the truly next-gen sounding online/digital features.

      Killzone looks a lot better than PS3 versions. But that could be because there is more colour.

    Everyone is expecting real life from these new consoles....
    The major improvement is going to be in Aesthetics. Not Graphics.
    Things are going to look prettier. Better shadows, lighting, sweat on the brow. But as far as photo realism goes. That's a job for high end PCs.

    i don't think the graphics is what he was disappointed in most, i think it was the fact that that besides a few bells and whistles from a gameplay perspective the jump wasn't as dramatic as the last gen to the current gen. alot of current gen launch titles were not possible previously despite looking a bit pooey. i definately remember being more impressed with previous previews for console launches.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_video_game_console_launch_games

      Looking at that list of launch games for various consoles, I'd struggle to find anything on 360 or PS3 that couldn't have been done on PS2 with a bit of a graphics downgrade.

        Super Famicom/SNES [Japanese launch: November 21, 1990]
        - Super Mario World
        - F-Zero

        Probably the best launch titles ever.

    "I’ve [watched] fifteen minutes of Crytek’s Ryse: Son of Rome."

    fixed.

    Perhaps if Ryse was actually connect and motion controlled as it was advertised in early concept videos then it may have felt like the next-gen quasi-VR experience it was originally intended as?

    Hearing that they've turned the game into a button masher with no kinect input would indicate that the camera is still an under performing piece of hardware for gimmick games.

    Hey Mike, I think the only reason launch PS360 games were 'noticeably better' is because they went from SD to HD.

    In terms of the actual visuals themselves, the step up wasn't much at all really. Hell, Halo 2 looked as good as Perfect Dark Zero outside of the texture work.

    Leaps and bounds in Tech are not as visible these days, In the past we had such leaps and bounds as the Commodore VIC20 (1980) > Commodore 64 (1982) > Commodore Amiga (1985). And in console realm we had Nintendo.

    Tech these days changes too quickly (especially graphics) and consoles are a set piece, So you are not going to see leaps and bounds until the consoles are at least in their mid cycle. The developers are showing us a small window to look through in hopes of catching our attention, whether the developers did that with the XBOXOne we will have to wait and see.

    The Xbone/PS4 launch titles just look like PC versions of 360/PS3 games with the specs turned up.

    I'm just looking forward to 1080p console gaming that isn't upscaled 720p (or lower in some cases)

    The next gen consoles are going to massively dogged by the 'been there, played that' tenet. The affording of new power to actually effect new kinds of gameplay, beyond visuals is something developers are going to take a looong time to exploit; if ever. Especially if the main market keeps on buying the same old crap and saying it's better cause it's newer.

    At the moment, GTA V can pretty much hold a candle to most of the launch games. Destiny and Watchdogs are both cross-gen games so there won't be anything major added to the next gen version barring a few whistles and bells put on top. That's not going to stop me from buying them for my PS4, but it's to be expected that it'll be a year or so until gameplay improvements come along.

    I won't expect major gameplay improvements though when they do arrive as since the mid-late PS2 era, games have largely played in the same way with relatively minor improvements. What I would expect though is for gameworlds to be more realised, environments to be more destructible (as seen already in inFAMOUS), NPCs to be more realistic and almost like human players.

    So it's the same sh!t, different generation. I expect that with first gen machines. Pretty visuals cannot replace substance.

    http://img21.imageshack.us/img21/1509/slowtaku.jpg

    Did you actually play the console, or use a wired controller that went into a mysterious box under a TV?

    Sell the Xbox One without the Kinect and my friends and I will consider buying it.
    Until then NO Spybox One gimmick for us.

    Any one who has been PC gaming for the last 5 years knows that once the HD generation started the lead in fidelity from year to year has simply been smaller. Games on this gen have no way of impressing the way 360 did compared to xbox nor the same way the leap from 2-d to 3-d was at the time so dramatic. The only thing this gen can do it create a slightly sharper visual with more on screen maybe and some great effects,

    Lets consider that high end pc games are constantly being ported over to consoles now and most convert very well. This will be the generation of more and hopefully of better AI or more impressive gameplay or at least that is the hope.

    So by in large anyone like this writer expecting a huge graphic kick this gen in going to be underwhelmed

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