This year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo hasn’t happened yet, but Microsoft has taken the time to show off its next-generation hand, with the new Xbox entertainment system.
It’s been a few months since Sony officially announced the PlayStation 4, and while we’re still no closer to knowing what it looks like, Microsoft has at least shown its hand for the third product in the Xbox canon.
Called the Xbox One, the console has been designed to integrate apps, multimedia, TV, social networking, and gaming in a way that has yet to be experienced in homes today.
“Xbox One is designed to deliver a whole new generation of blockbuster games, television and entertainment in a powerful, all-in-one device,” said Microsoft’s Don Mattrick.
“Our unique, modern architecture brings simplicity to the living room and, for the first time ever, the ability to instantly switch across your games and entertainment.”
Previously rumoured as being called both the “Xbox 720″ and “Xbox Infinity,” the Xbox One has matched up with some of the expected specifications, moving a fair ways from what the console was designed to be in its last iteration (360), and in some ways, bringing the insides closer to what Microsoft worked with in the first Xbox console some years ago.
What it looks like from the inside is similar to a PC, with Microsoft going with an eight-core processor from AMD with a new graphics chip, 8GB RAM, 500GB hard drive, and even a Blu-ray drive, making it possible that Sony’s PlayStation console won’t be the only upgrade-friendly Blu-ray player out there.
Connection options will include Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11n WiFi, HDMI 1.4 as both input and output we’re hearing, and there will be support for throwing both Full HD and 4K video out to the TV, so those of you lucky enough to buy Ultra High Def TVs in the next couple of years should be able to provide some content.
From the outside, this is a console that looks closer to a small computer than the slim home appliance we’ve seen from manufacturers of late, but that shouldn’t stop the Xbox One from being an impressive piece of kit.
In fact, aside for high-end specs, the console will also come bundled with a new version of the Kinect controller, which has been improved to pick up even more information with a newer depth sensor and a 720p webcam.
We’re hearing that the One will require the Kinect to work, but that games will be upgraded to make more use of this motion controller, while still letting you use a traditional controller, which has been updated with a slightly refined design and new vibrating triggers to make you feel as if you’re more a part of the gaming experience.
Games are, of course, one area where this console will shine, and already we can show you three games where screenshots have been released to the media.
First is a new Forza title, Microsoft’s premiere racing game series.
Now in its fifth release, the new Forza shots all show off a McLaren speeding along, and wow, these images just look simply stunning.
Next up is a title from “Alan Wake” developers Remedy Entertainment, the same group responsible for Max Payne.
We don’t know much about this, sufficed to say it will have guns, bullets, and explosions, as well as a lobby scene of some form.
And then there’s one that was previously announced by Activision a few weeks ago.
The next Call of Duty game will be “Ghosts,” and while the teaser we saw told us that the game was coming, the screenshots revealed today for the Xbox 360 tell us that the graphics for this new CoD game will be good, very good.
More games will, of course, be coming, with a FIFA title already announced, as well as NBA, UFC, and Madden NFL games from Electronic Arts, while Halo will see its stories turned into a new Xbox One exclusive TV show worked on with Steven Spielberg.
One thing the Xbox One won’t have, however, is compatibility with older games from the Xbox 360. Similar to the PlayStation 3, backwards compatibility won’t be shared, and any game you own for the current Xbox version won’t be playable on the next one, which likely stems from how different the technology is between the consoles.
Microsoft is hoping you won’t want to spend too much time with those older games, though, and will be integrating live TV, application multitasking, Skype for Xbox, a video recorder for your games, more achievements, and a new version of Xbox SmartGlass so you can get into gaming and video with your mobile phone and tablet.
As for pricing, Microsoft hasn’t officially announced anything yet. EB Games in Australia has put up a preorders page with a ridonkulous expected price of $900, a value we doubt will be real, though in fairness, we won’t know until Microsoft shows off its release plans, which at this time are expected by the holiday season this year.