The Xbox One won't be out until this November, but details about Microsoft's next-gen console have been hitting hot and heavy for the past couple of months. So for your convenience, we're rounding up all of that information and putting it right here.
As we continue to learn more about the Xbox 360's successor, we'll keep updating this post, so check back over the next few months to make sure you're totally caught up with all of the next-gen news. (And check Kotaku tomorrow for a roundup of everything we know about the PlayStation 4.)
Meet the Xbox One:
It's shiny and black — only black, for now — and it comes with Kinect 2.0 and a controller. Fancy! No word on dimensions just yet, but here's Stephen Totilo comparing the machine to various objects he had on him at the time:
Iterating on the Xbox 360's controller, the Xbox One controller is very similar to its predecessor, albeit a bit wider. In the middle, replacing the 360's Back and Start buttons, are new buttons called Menu and View. The back-trigger rumble is way improved, by all accounts, and each trigger can rumble separately thanks to two new rotors in the controller.
And then there's this creepy tidbit, via Microsoft: "An infrared LED on the front of the controller allows Kinect to automatically recognise you, making it easier to pick up and play." YOUR CONTROLLER WILL KNOW WHO YOU ARE.
Pre-ordered versions of the Xbox One will come with a special branded controller that says "Day One 2013."
Here's a video look:
- 8 GB DDR3 system memory, with 5 GB of that available for games (the rest is used for the operating system)
- 8-core, x86 processor
- 500 GB hard-drive
- Blu-ray drive
- Three USB 3.0 ports
- HDMI in and out ports
- A custom GPU based on AMD architecture
Four hundred ninety-nine U.S. dollars. $US499. (Also: 499 euros, or £429 for our British buddies.) Or $599 Australian.
In addition to a third-party lineup of next-gen software that currently includes multiplatform games like The Witcher 3, Metal Gear Solid V, and Dragon Age: Inquisition, Microsoft has secured a number of exclusives for Xbox One:
- Ryse, an action-adventure set in ancient, QTE-stuffed Rome
- Below: a quiet adventure by the folks behind Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery
- A reboot of the old fighting game Killer Instinct
- Crimson Dragon: a rail shooter designed by the creator of Panzer Dragoon
- Some sort of Halo, because of course.
- Sunset Overdrive, a colourful shooter by Insomniac, the folks behind Ratchet & Clank.
- An adventure game called Quantum Break that will blend with a TV show of the same name (not unlike Defiance)
- Forza Motorspot 5. vroom vroom.
- D4: an episodic murder mystery by the director of Deadly Premonition
- Dead Rising 3: Capcom's open-world zombie slasher
Some other games, like Harmonix's Fantasia and Respawn's Titanfall, will be available for both Xbox 360 and Xbox One (and in Titanfall's case, PC as well).
This one's a doozy. For a month or so, Microsoft was all about a digital Xbox One: you'd have to connect to the Internet once every 24 hours to play games, for example, even to play them offline. Used games would also be restricted heavily.
Then came the reversal: in late June, after intense backlash and criticism, Microsoft announced that they had changed their minds. Total 180. No more crazy DRM policies.
So, long story short: you'll need to connect to the Internet at least once before you can play games on the Xbox One, but after that one-time patch, it'll work just like the 360 did. You'll be able to play offline. You'll be able to buy and sell games just like you can today.
Also thanks to the big reversal, there is now no region-locking. Microsoft now says the Xbox One is totally region-free.
The Xbox One requires a Kinect to function, but this isn't your old body-sensing device: this is Kinect 2.0, which accommodates smaller rooms, recognises your facial expressions, and can even detect your heart rate. Some more info, via Microsoft:
It includes a 1080p, HD camera that captures video at 30 frames per second. All new, active-infrared capabilities increase precision, allowing it to work in nearly any lighting condition and expanding field of view to accommodate a greater variety of room sizes. Microsoft proprietary Time-of-Flight technology measures the time it takes individual photons to rebound off you to create unprecedented accuracy and precision. The new noise-isolating multimicrophone array filters ambient sounds to recognise natural speaking voices even in crowded rooms.
Worried about the privacy implications of having a device like that in your living room? Microsoft says you'll be able to turn it off, although the details are still a bit hazy.
You're never gonna believe this, but the Xbox One ain't just for playing games. Microsoft wants it to be a home entertainment system. I know — I'm shocked too.
At the big Xbox One reveal in May, Microsoft spent a great deal of time showing off a feature called Snap, which will allow you to multitask on your television. To quote MS:
Use Snap to do two things at once. Talk to friends on Skype, and watch the big game together. Follow what people are saying about your favourite show by surfing the Web. Listen to the music of your choice while playing the latest blockbuster game. Jump back and forth instantly between experiences without a loss in performance.
So you can Skype while watching a movie, check your fantasy scores during a football game, and so forth. Multitasking: it's the future!
Microsoft's online service has always had a bit of a reputation for being infested with obscene thirteen-year-olds, and now the Xbox makers are going to do something about it: with their new Reputation system, players will be held accountable for what they say online.
Getting muted or banned during games will cost you reputation points, and players will be matched online based on their reputations.
Also, more friends! The friend cap on Xbox Live is now 1,000.
Xbox One has a whole new system in place for Achievements: in addition to basic cheevos, developers will be able to give you Challenges, or timed events like, say, "a headshot weekend challenge that requires players to cumulatively headshot 1 million baddies in a 3 day period. And every person who participates and meets the challenge’s goals gets the unlock on his or her achievement history and reaps its reward."
Achievements will also be far more malleable thanks to Microsoft's cloud servers, and insanely enough, you'll also be able to earn achievements by watching videos or listening to music through your Xbox One. It's a much bigger system.
Some other random facts you should know:
- The Xbox One is not backwards compatible. "If you’re backwards compatible, you’re really backwards," ex-Xbox boss Don Mattrick told the Wall Street Journal back in May.
- You'll be able to record and edit gameplay footage on your Xbox One, then upload it online. You'll also be able to stream yourself playing games on Twitch. The system will automatically record the last five minutes of gameplay as you use it.
- Although the "family sharing" plan originally announced in May is no longer a confirmed feature, Microsoft's Marc Whitten has hinted that it could come back in some form.
- Microsoft is all about cloud processing — or processing that can be performed on their servers, theoretically lightening the load for your console and allowing for more impressive games than would be possible with the Xbox One's processing power alone. It's all theoretical for now, though.
- Many developers are using Microsoft's "SmartGlass" technology to allow you to use your phone or tablet as an accessory for games. In Dead Rising 3, for example, you can use a mobile device to call in airstrikes to blow up zombies all around you.
- Microsoft hasn't officially announced their indie policies for Xbox One, but we can expect more news on that front soon. They've vowed to support indies in some way or another.
Wondering when to expect more news? Microsoft rep Major Nelson says we'll find out the Xbox One's release date later this year.
Additional Australian information: