Xbox One is a Real Number 2
(h/t Adam Douglas)
If today’s reveal was meant to inspire hope that consoles are not, in fact, an endangered species, let’s just say I’m still preparing my eulogy. I went into the event with no expectations of being wowed and still left remarkably disappointed. After being shown a giant black brick, and being subjected to a good hour’s worth of empty platitudes about vague ideals of what that giant brick should be, my fellow Schmamers and I were left grasping for any real substance by the end. Voice controls, fantasy integration with live sports, and Halo TV is what we were left with.
They were hyping their “innovative D-pad” design for fuck’s sake!
While there were things that did pique our interest, like Remedy’s Quantum Break, there was absolutely nothing that grabbed you by the collar and screamed “THIS IS WHY YOU NEED ME!” In fact, the most remarkable things about the Xbox One (Halo TV with Steven Spielberg, namely) had little to do with the actual console. Games they showed, like Forza 5, the EA sports lineup, and CoD: Ghosts, while all very pretty, were nothing more than pre-rendered movie montages with no gameplay nor any information about how the One will change any aspect of the experience, save a more powerful graphics engine. That shit just isn’t going to cut it anymore, boys.
“Interactive television” seems to be what Microsoft is banking on to sell consoles in the market at large, the idea being to have the Xbox One serve as an indispensable Home Entertainment hub, but the only thing that really stands out is the ability to shout at your TV and have it switch from games to television to movies and back. Other highlighted features, like the TV Guide-like application and cumbersome motion controls, had us all scratching our heads. I won’t deny it could be useful, depending on how intuitive the commands are, however it’s hardly indispensable. Plus all of these features are something other companies can (and will) utilize to better effect on their own devices.
Other than that, Microsoft seems to have completely abandoned “mass appeal” as a selling strategy. An almost overbearing emphasis on sports, Call of Duty, Halo and Forza left no one wondering who Microsoft considers their core audience to be. But even with these, the only real significance is that they exist. EA was by far the worst offender, having RGIII and Lionel Messi serve us startling insight into “what defines sports at the highest level” like physicality! And atmosphere! And then ending with more vague bullshit about revolutionary new nothings.
I think fellow Schmamer Adam Douglas put it best; this felt like DLC for consoles rather than a new generational leap. I know there are diminishing returns on graphics— that the leap from gen 1 to gen 2 will always feel much bigger than its progeny— but this feels like a diminishing return on innovation too. There was nothing here that touched anything close to a sense of wonder or excitement; there was nothing here that made us long for what marvelous possibilities the future has in store. That’s really a shame, because if there is one thing this medium should and does excel at, it is inspiring imagination.
Don’t even get me started on the fucking name.