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Xbox One: just the facts

Michael French
Xbox One: just the facts

Have you been left exhausted by the information overdrive regarding the new Xbox One last night? Us too.

Thankfully we’ve distilled the whole thing down to a handy list that covers the basics of everything we – and in some instances don’t – know:

THE MACHINE

  • It's called Xbox One.
  • That's because it is designed as an 'all-in-one' device.
  • It combines next-gen games playback with Xbox Live apps and a mix of new TV services.
  • It will be released in Q4 this year.
  • No, we don't know how much it costs or the exact release date yet.
  • A new Kinect comes with each console.
  • The new Kinect features a 1080p camera with expanded field of view.
  • Kinect's software has been updated for better body tracking.
  • In fact Kinect can track details so finely it can monitor your heartrate for fitness games, Microsoft says.
  • The Kinect microphone has also been improved with advanced noise isolation.
  • The console will not run with Kinect unplugged.
  • The Xbox controller has also been updated, with 40 purported tweaks - and a new look.
  • Joypad improvements include a new directional pad, new thumbsticks and ergonomic design.
  • New rumble means even the triggers on the game pad vibrate.
  • It uses Blu-ray discs.
  • The new design of the chasis means it can only be laid horizontal.
  • Underneath the bonnet there is an eight-core, x86 processor plus 8GB of RAM.

THE SOFTWARE

  • Xbox One runs three operating systems: the Xbox OS, a version of Windows, and a bridge between them.
  • The mix of operating systems and the high-speed hardware means users can seamlessly switch between functions such as Internet Explorer and watching TV.
  • Something called 'Snap' lets you run two such apps or functions at once - such as playing a multiplayer game while watching a film.
  • If you say 'Xbox On' the machine goes to a personalised home screen for you. 
  • Voice recognition software will learn from what you say and improve over time. 
  • But voice functionality won't be available in all languages - just those supported (with more presumably added over time).

THE TV ELEMENTS

  • With a HDMI feed from other set-top-boxes or cable providers, Xbox One can act as a TV guide and live television service.
  • This function will not necessarily be immediately available in the UK, however - it will launch in the US first, and requires a separate device.
  • The OneGuide is a new electronic programme guide that can be controlled via voice or used to create playlists of favourite TV shows.
  • 'Trending' functions will track what TV shows are popular on Xbox Live. Although this too will be a US-only feature at launch.
  • As part of its push into TV, Microsoft has teamed up with Steven Spielberg to produce a Halo TV show, presumably broadcast through Xbox Live.
  • Microsoft has also scored a deal with the US' NFL to offer interactive sports TV exclusive to Xbox One. 

NEW XBOX LIVE

  • Xbox Live has been improved for Xbox One.
  • Downloaded games can be installed in segments so you can play them faster
  • It has background update downloads.
  • Game saves and profiles, plus entertainment content (music, movies or TV shows) you buy are saved in the cloud.
  • Membership from Xbox Live Gold for 360 will transfer over to Xbox One.
  • Your gamerscore and achievements will also carry over to Xbox One's version of Xbox Live.
  • In fact the achievements system is being expanded: it now records what you do and adds new achievements and objectives over time.
  • But some elements of the existing Xbox Live - such as avatars - will NOT be transferred over to Xbox One. 
  • The in-built game DVR records your gameplay and saves footage to the cloud, complete with sharing tools.
  • Competitive elements mean other players can compete against your 'shadow' and tracked performance.
  • Smart Match is a new matchmaking tool that aims to eliminate waiting for multiplayer games to start. 
  • Skype has also been redesigned for Xbox One to take advantage of Kinect and HD TVs, plus it allows for group calls. 

THE GAMES

  • Microsoft unveiled two new first-party titles: sequel Forza 5 and new IP Quantum Break from Alan Wake creator Remedy.
  • Quantum Break mixes TV footage with gameplay, with the two promising to interact and change depending on how you watch or play.
  • There are another 13 first-party games in the works, 7 of them are new IPs.
  • Microsoft says it is investing more than ever in first-party development and has more titles in development than at any other time in its history.
  • EA unveiled four sports games at the event: FIFA 14, Madden, NBA live and the new UFC.
  • All are powered by a new next-gen engine, called EA Instinct.
  • FIFA 14 Ultimate Team will have exclusive game modes on Xbox One.
  • Activision closed the reveal event with the first public look at Call of Duty: Ghosts.
  • Microsoft and Activision have also renewed their agreement for Xbox owners to get Call of Duty DLC and competition content first.

THE THORNY POINTS

  • All software needs to be installed to the device.
  • Xbox One does not require an 'always on' connection. But regular connection to check updates and software licences is required.
  • Cloud functionality will track which licences for which software players own.
  • It is not backwards compatible.
  • It is not expressly designed to block pre-owned.
  • But it might implement a system where publishers can control the pre-owned sale of their games, or charge for fees to activate used games. 

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