Microsoft unveiled details about its next console earlier today (5/21/13), and I yawned my way through the entire presentation.
The Xbox One, slated for release later this year, will be “an All in One System,” they promise, and revolutionize our connection with our televisions. And they meant that a little too literally, I think.
The vast majority of what the various presenters talked about was the interactive TV elements built into the new device.
Thanks to such new advances as “grab and pan” screen scaling (where users can interact with the display through an improved Kinect accessory) and “snap mode” (which allows the console to do two things at once, such as display a live TV picture and a Internet browser window), people will be able to see updates of their Fantasy Football stats in real-time while watching a game.
Or we can watch “Star Trek” on TV while watching a clip of the new “Star Trek: Into Darkness” at the same time!
And there's a built-in TV guide, once you program in details about your current TV service.
We can also switch instantaneously from watching TV to playing a game or listening to music and back again simply by speaking a command aloud.
This is thanks to the impressive technology that will be built into the Xbox One, which they flashed on screen for all of five seconds. All I could quickly glean was that it'll have 8 gigabytes of RAM, like the PlayStation 4, and a Blu-ray drive, so maybe we won't have to change discs on every game released in the future.
OK, OK, I admit I could go into more detail about what they said, but I don't really want to. It was all the usual buzzwords – immersive; new experiences; cutting edge – without anything shown to back up their grandiose statements.
Game reveals were very limited.
EA Sports' Andrew Wilson came on briefly to tell us that the new FIFA, Madden, NBA Live and UFC games will all use a new engine, EA Sports Ignite, which will make in-game AI more intelligent and lifelike.
Then they showed us the usual trailer consisting of in-game graphics, but not actual game-play.
Phil Spencer of Microsoft Studios took the stage and showed us Forza Motorsport 5 – but again, not game-play footage. Arguably, the trailer shown could have been for any of the games in the Forza series and I wouldn't have known any different.
Then he revealed Quantum Break, which was shown as a mix of live video and some CGI, but no real game-play.
Sensing a theme yet?
Microsoft promises about 15 new games, eight of which will be new exclusives. But that's just tell, no show, once again.
The final presentation was by Activision, which actually did go into some nice details about the upcoming multiplatform “Call of Duty: Ghosts.” Highlights: We'll have a dog as a squadmate; and multiplayer maps will change dynamically (a game-triggered earthquake could shift the landscape, or players may cause objects to topple onto members of the other team).
But that's a third-party game that'll also be on Sony's PlayStation 4. Unless you really care that Microsoft gets the game DLC first (and most of us don't) it's not really a selling point for the console.
Ultimately, all Microsoft has shown us about the Xbox One, to date, points to it being a great, state-of-the-art interactive cable box.
I, however, am looking for a game console.