Hey everyone! Welcome to the official Neoseeker liveblog and discussion thread for Microsoft's next-generation Xbox reveal event. If you haven't already, head over to Microsoft's livestream, watch live from your Xbox 360, or flip the TV channel to Spike TV. It's all coming at ya live starting at 1:00 PM ET/10:00 PT (about 20 minutes left). If you're wondering what to expect, check out our rumor roundup, or heck... just rant and rave in the comments (or hopefully chatbox) as you please.
The Xbox One has been officiall unveiled! Here's all the official details... that we know of. Let's be honest, today's event was for television viewers and not so much gamers. Details across the board were fairly scant. There was a lot of PR language and not so much hands-on with features. That said, this is a whole new console, so just seeing the thing is pretty momentous. Here are the facts, or at least the best we've got.
The official specifications of the Xbox One, while unspecific, mirror the rumored specifications discussed months ago. While the entirety of the specifications likely won't be listed until much closer to the console's launch, here's what's been announced so far:
8 CPU Cores
8 GB DDR3 RAM
500GB Hard Drive
802.11n Wireless with Wi-Fi Direct
The tech behind tying the Xbox One to your television is done entirely through HDMI pass-through -- no component cable tech in the console -- though there will also be an option for IR.
Xbox One's controller is said to have over 60 improvements on the Xbox 360's version. Some are more obvious, such as a smaller battery pack offering fingers more room around the back of the controller, an upgraded d-pad rather than the clunky disc, and textured grips on the analog sticks.
Other improvements are less evident, whether its the tech that likely allows the Kinect to sense the controller or more ergonomic changes. Perhaps many gamers will never notice the controller has changed, or perhaps many gamers won't really notice the striking differences until they finally do have the controller in their hands.
Whereas the current generation Xbox's Kinect retails for about $100 and is essentially superfluous to the functions of the console, the Xbox One's Kinect will be... well, it's required. Yes, the console requires the Kinect to be plugged in to function.
"The all-new Kinect is now an essential and integrated part of the platform. By having it as a consistent part of every Xbox One, game and entertainment creators can build experiences that assume the availability of voice, gesture and natural sensing, leading to unrivaled ease of use, premium experiences and interactivity for you."
In today's Xbox One reveal event the Kinect's voice features were used almost exclusively to show off the console and its features.
Rather than list all of the currently announced games for the Xbox One here, I'll focus on the games that were announced at the event. For a full list of titles make sure to check out our up-to-date list which includes titles from EA, Ubisoft and Activision.
Quantum Break - Microsoft will be publishing the next game from Remedy Entertainment. Yes, those guys who did Alan Wake and Max Payne. It's something to do with the apocolypse and a little girl with telekinetic powers.
Forza Motorsports 5 - Vroom, room. Lots of pretty cars.
Yes, only two games were officially unveiled at the Xbox One event. Other games were present, inlcuding the first showing of Call of Duty: Ghosts' gameplay and the tech behind the game. Otherwise, it looks like Microsoft is saving their big guns for E3.
Microsoft confirmed, and actually based their event around, the announcement that the Xbox One would have several features that tied into being connected to your television. That includes being able to switch between watching live television, playing a game, or browsing the internet with a simple Kinect command.
Also shown during the event was the Xbox One's ability to split the screen, so viewers can watch a show on one side of the screen and then browse the internet on the other. Microsoft announced a partnership with the NFL to offer exclusive content through the Xbox for sports fans who watch NFL games live. As usual, more details on this later.
Price & Release Date
What do you know, Microsoft was mum on the Xbox One's price and release date. All they were willing to say was that the Xbox One would be coming out in 2013. Not even a mention of two SKUs!
While again details weren't specified, Microsoft did mention that current Xbox Live "memberships" would continue with the Xbox One. Small details like stretching friends lists from 100 to 1000 and the addition of cloud server storage were mentioned, but it's difficult to tell how this will apply in the gaming spectrum.
Microsoft has confirmed that accounts will crossover between Xbox 360 and Xbox One, and even that users can communicate across the services. Yes, that means your gamerscore will make the leap across the generation. While gamerscore will crossover, store purchases will not. It has been confirmed that XBLA purchases will be stuck on the console you bought them on.
Always Online? Nope. Microsoft has made it clear that they've "got gamers covered" and that the Xbox One will not require an internet connection to play single player games. As for virtually every single other one of the Xbox One's features? Yeah, you're probably going to need an internet connection for those? The rumors continue, however, stating that perhaps games will require online activation before completing installation.
Used Games? Details remain unclear! According to Wired all games will have to be installed on the Xbox One's hard drive. Then, if you want to install the game on another computer... you'll have to pay a small fee. Microsoft later contacted Wired about this statement and stated they have a plan for used games, but details were forthcoming.
Xbox One will have the tech to support background downloads, allowing gamers to play games as they install, and even boot up from a rest state instantaneously.
During the convention 343 Industries announced some sort of exclusive Halo television show, which Steven Spielberg is involved with.
EA has decided to drop a Need for Speed teaser today, of all days. Now before you get too excited, it's just an image of a supercar, painted to be a police vehicle. Fancy.
The image popped up on the official Need for Speed Facebook today, and while EA offered no other clues, the whole police car deal suggests the next Need for Speed could be a Hot Pursuitsequel. Hey, Criterion's 2010 reboot kind of rocked, so we wouldn't be opposed to seeing another one.
The caption for the image read simply: "Have no rules, show no mercy."
That said, Hot Pursuit wasn't the only NFS to have ridiculously pricey police cars.
In case you missed the big news, Call of Duty: Ghosts got its big gameplay (sort of) reveal today. An epic trailer debuted at this morning's Xbox One reveal, along with a rather in-depth behind-the-scenes video with Infinity Ward, showing off their new engine.
At this rate, we don't have enough gameplay to show exactly how similar or different Ghosts will be from its predecessors, but a new world, new cast, and new engine provide plenty of opportunities for interested changes.
Well, today has certainly been an eventful one for the industry. Microsoft finally unveiled the Xbox One, successor to the wildly successful Xbox 360.
While the reveal did showcase the new console's various functions, the gaming side fell short for many viewers. Microsoft, for their part, is asking gamers to be patient and wait for their E3 2013 conference. Fingers crossed.
In the meantime, here is a list of games confirmed so far for the Xbox One, with more popping up by the hour. Major publishers like Activision and EA have all hopped aboard the Xbox One hype train, and Ubisoft already announced plans to release "at least" six next-gen titles to the new Xbox within its first year.
Microsoft unveiled the Xbox One today and you might be surprised by what it looks like. Considering the bulky, unique original Xbox and the thin, sleek Xbox 360, the Xbox One is, well, a black block. Judging from the fact that Microsoft wants their Xbox One to be as much of a set-top box for televisions as a gaming console, the design is intentional. Simple, elegant, something that fits in every entertainment center.
We're not talking about just the console, however. We've also got a next-gen controller to look at as well as the next-gen Kinect. Both are said to have received outstanding improvements. While those improvements aren't really clear beyond, "better," it's evident from their design that Microsoft isn't going to shove them in your face. The Kinect and controller art simply... practical. They do their job. They're not system sellers.
So here's high quality images of the Xbox One, the Kinect 2.0 and the new controller. See if you can spot the upgrades and look forward to more... firm details when they break.
Most 360 owners have no doubt compiled quite a library of Xbox 360 games over these past several years. Well, if you were hoping to play them on your new Xbox One, we've got a spot of bad news. According to Xbox LIVE VP Marc Whitten, the Xbox One will not support backwards compatibility.
When asked whether the Xbox One will include this feature, Whitten remarked, "No, there's not. The system is based on a different core architecture, so back-compat doesn't really work from that perspective."
Sad as it may be, this does make sense when you consider the technological differences between Xbox 360 and Xbox One. Today's big reveal event confirmed that the new Xbox would be running on an x86 CPU, meaning games designed for Xbox 360 just won't run on the Xbox One. Bummer.
Sony went through a similar transition with their PlayStation 4, which also moved on to x86. This basically means PlayStation 3 games won't be playable on the new console.
Oddly, Microsoft is also planning to skip out on offering old 360 games for streaming or download. Another move that's less than surprising, when you consider the Xbox 360s continued dominance over the market. The company plans to continue selling Xbox 360 consoles and games through Xbox One's launch later this year, with no mention of when the current-gen machine will be retired.
Another year, another Call of Duty. At this point, can anyone really claim to be surprised when Activision unveils a new addition to modern gaming's most lucrative franchise? All that being said, something about Call of Duty: Ghosts tempts even the series' toughest critics and most jaded fans, daring us to rejoin the Call of Duty hype train. And you know what? I can't recall the last time I looked forward to a Call of Duty game as much as I do now.
Last week, we joined many other industry writers, journalist, bloggers, and all-around personalities in Santa Monica for Activision's pre-E3 show, and guess what the publisher focused on? Okay, yes, Skylanders Swap Force was a big hit too, but I'm referring to Call of Duty: Ghosts, obviously. The upcoming shooter tags Modern Warfare studio Infinity Ward back in, right after Treyarch's latest hit Black Ops 2, but the new Call of Duty won't be another Modern Warfare -- it won't even be in the same world. Continuity, that is.
New Story, New Cast
Modern Warfare started out with this really great story that was actually being told rather effectively. By Modern Warfare 3, however, things had gotten a bit rough. Infinity Ward isn't about to let past missteps get in the way of Ghosts, however, and just to prove that story still matters in the Call of Duty universe, the team brought in Stephen Gaghan to pen a proper story. If you're not aware, that's the fellow behind the 2000 film, Traffic, for which Gaghan won an Academy Award.
Infinity didn't go too much into the story, and that's understandable. We did learn the whole premise of the game, at least, and where the "Ghosts" in its name comes from. In the not-so-far future, the United States ('MURICA) has crumbled under a yet-unrevealed enemy, and our military forces are left decimated. Unable to stand idle and do nothing, a few surviving members from various special forces branches take it upon themselves to form their own unique squad of vigilante freedom fighters, and they strike back as vengeful ghosts of the people. Well, something along those lines.
Point is, these guys have a very particular set of skills; skills they've acquired over a very long career. Skills that make them a nightmare for people like our enemies.
A new cast of characters will be introduced -- the ghosts, if you will -- though we didn't get to meet any yet. Not unless you count the currently-nameless dog. Yeah, Infinity threw in a dog that works alongside you as your greatest ally and best buddy. Finally, a f*ck you to all those damn enemy hounds trying to rip out the back of your knees.
Either way, the developers are hoping to actually put together a more robust cast, with characters that the audience will hopefully develop an emotional attachment to. You know, like Ghost... sob.
The New Engine
Call of Duty: Ghosts will feature a new world and run on a new engine, and that new-ness is something Infinity Ward really wants to get across. This transition into the next generation provides the perfect opportunity for that rebirth. The gameplay will no doubt be as familiar as the Call of Duty name, but a new coat of paint can go a long way. Kind of like remodeling the old house you grew up in.
Incidentally, the Ghosts preview was really our first in-depth look at a next-gen quality title. Infinity spent the majority of their presentation actually going over the game's graphical improvements and the new tech that made it all possible.
"Gameplay drives tech," remarked IW executive producer Mark Rubin. Indeed, every visual improvement only deepens the gameplay experience.
He also pointed out that much of their new talent came from Hollywood, allowing the studio to take advantage of technological advancement already in use by the CG movie industry. The Sub-D tech, which Rubin spoke endlessly about, raises the particle cap for a higher polycount, resulting in much smoother objects.
Hilariously, the Call of Duty: Ghosts tech demo was actually reminiscent of Bethesda's Skyrim video from a couple E3's ago, in the way the devs showed off the game's environments. Look at the water. Look at the salmon in the water. Examine the salmon meat in your inventory.
While Infinity Ward didn't have any highly detailed fish meat to show off, the demo did offer an impressive look at Ghosts' beautiful world. That did, of course, involve a lot of running water. A segment that was shown took us through a jungle, where we were able to see all the details that went toward making the in-game setting feel more realistic. When stepping through a waterfall, the game actually captured the mist effect in the air, created by the water colliding together.
More impressive were the textures, which adopted a more three-dimensional feel. In most games we see now, surfaces tend to be flat with only the appearance of texture. Rubin referred to this as "implied geometry." By comparison, Ghosts' new engine actually creates dimension within these textures, so the rock wall actually protrudes differently. The rocks exist, no longer just wallpaper plastered over a... wall.
The actual gameplay sequence, a snippet taken from a longer demo meant to debut at today's Xbox reveal, offered a better look at the new engine in action. In a rather Call of Duty-esque segment, we see the player character and an ally stealthing their way through tropical waters in order to reach and take out an enemy vessel. During this time, we're able to compare exactly how Ghosts stacks up to its predecessors, and boy, what a difference it is.
The underwater environment also provided a means of showcasing some of the AI, as in the way smoke billows and how fish swim and react to you. We don't normally give these kinds of things much thought while we're playing through an incredibly tense or action-driven game, but knowing the work that goes into these details really allows us tobetter appreciate the product.
While the preview focused more on tech rather than gameplay, Mark Rubin did take care to point out a few ways Infinity has advanced on that front, though not in any exceptional detail. Greater mobility will come into play thanks to the new engine, allowing players to pull off some quick reflex-based moves, like wall-jumps, sliding, and wall-leans.
Despite all the focus on single-player, multiplayer remains a staple, and as always, the newest Call of Duty will see improvements. Customizable player characters were mentioned, but not shown, and new obstacles will force players to think a little more in gunfights. What kind of obstacles? Traps, for one thing, plus other elements not necessarily created by players. Floods, earthquakes, and such natural phenomena add more depth (in theory) of play. The keyword here is "revamp."
As for a date, Call of Duty: Ghosts has already been confirmed for November 5, at least for PC and current-gen consoles. With both the PlaySation 4 and Xbox One set for launch later this year, I suspect Ghosts will be quick to follow.
With the next-gen Xbox quite literally less than an hour away from officially being unveiled, I wanted to quickly drop a post going over what to expect from the event. We've already gone through the PlayStation 4 announcement, but this could still be one of the first console announcement experiences for our young or newly discovered nerds out there. Here's a collection of rumors, some closer to reality than others, about what to expect from today's next-gen Xbox unveiling.
It's actually rather surprising, but everyone's sort of been in agreement about the specifications of the next-gen Xbox. To be honest, they're not that dissimilar to what we know about the PlayStation 4, though you'll have to go to talk to one of our hardware guru to figure out exactly what those differences are.
Basically, the rumor is that Microsoft is planning to release two SKUs. One that will serve as a set-top box with functionality like Apple TV, but can play certain digital games, and another that's a full blown console. Both are said to be perpetually online, though Microsoft itself has said that single-player games will be playable offline without issue.
Rumors on price have been fairly stable, much like our expectations from the next-gen Xbox's hardware specs. It's worth saying now, however, that we do not expect Microsoft to announce prices at this event. They might not even announce prices at E3. They could take it all the way and only announce the price a month or two in advance of the console's release. Nevertheless, here's the rumors.
Yup, that's it. The rumor is the big Xbox will sell for $499 and the small one for $299. There are also rumors about a multi-year contract price plan that will result on either a free console or a cheaper one. That price plan will of course depend on perhaps the bigger mystery: What's Microsoft doing with the Xbox Live system? Will it still cost money to play games online? Will they charge as much or more as with the Xbox 360? Will someone make me a peanut butter sandwich?
Again, surprisingly all the rumors here point to a specific release window: November. This is the same window that we're hearing about Sony. It makes sense, as November is the month that most consoles are released in and also the month most consoles are sold. Got to get that Christmas money.
Here's the big mystery: What games will be revealed at the event? To be honest, beyond a couple of already confirmed third party games it's all a big mystery. Here's what games we know about and also a few that we're thinking about.
That's only say half of the rumors going around. We could also see Ryze from Crytek and a half dozen other rumored next-gen experiences we've already heard about. If they dropped a Witcher 3 demo on me I might faint.
Beyond Forza, however, we have very little idea of what first party studios Microsoft will be bringing out on stage. Here are some of the rumored studios working on titles for next-gen:
343 Industries - Halo
Microsoft Studios - Next-gen "core cinematic title"
Black Tusk Studios
Platform Next Studios
Microsoft could be making it rain games soon.
Uh, well that's about it for now. I could go over some more rumors like what's lined up for Xbox Live (Skype, streaming, Pando, etc.), but I want to publish this before the event actually starts so I hope this will do! Check out our upcoming liveblog when it hits and have fun! Next-gen Xbox, everyone! It doesn't happen very often!
That oddball Japanese game from Sony Japan Studio revealed last week has received a quick rebranding. What was initially called Panopticonis now named Freedom Wars. Described as a "multiplayer action game," or in other words heavily inspired by Monster Hunter, Freedom Wars will cap out at 8 players co-op and competitive modes. Unfortunately Freedom Wars will be exclusive to the PS Vita and remains a Japan-only release for now. Expect it out there in 2014.
So what about the insanity that was the first trailer for Panopticon/Freedom Wars? Well, players will take on the role of a convict in a post-apocalyptic future. No word on if you're a robot, alien or just super evolved human cyborg anime badass. You've been sentenced to a million years of hard labor fighting aliens known as Abuctors. Through fighting them and rescuing civilians and allies you can reduce your sentence until ultimately you're free... and still an anime robot kid.
Expect more information on Freedom Wars soon. Perhaps not at E3, unless they're going to announce it's a global release, but probably some time in the months ahead. Again, Freedom Wars is a PlayStation Vita exclusive planned for release in 2014.