Xbox One coming November 22 for $499 (hands-on)


Unless you’ve recently taken up residence under suitably large slab of earth, you’re likely already aware of Microsoft’s new Xbox One console. If not, buckle up, because there’s an endless supply of details coming your way — now. Here’s every last detail we know about the Xbox One:

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The Xbox One will have a $499 starting price when it hits stores on November 22, and with a price that high, it’s clear Microsoft is targeting the well-to-do consumer with the new device — at least at launch. By comparison, the Sony PlayStation 4 will cost $399 (and release a week earlier on November 15) — although its optional PlayStation Eye camera and motion detector will be a $60 add-on, while the Kinect accessory will be bundled with every Xbox One sold.

The Xbox One(Credit: James Martin/CNET)

For those not ready to drop half a grand on a new media device, Microsoft has refreshed its current gaming console, the Xbox 360, which is now available in a smaller redesigned chassis. The price has been kept relatively low ($200 for 4GB, $300 for 250GB), and Microsoft has sweetened the deal with a two-free-games-per-month deal for Xbox Live Gold members.

Design and Hands-on impressions
The Xbox One is large, sleek, and black, and looks like a piece of AV equipment. The controller and Kinect unit are redesigned, too: the Kinect and Xbox One, in particular, sport sharp-angled, glossy-black boxy looks. As a set, the Xbox One really does feel like some elaborate piece of home theater gear — and considering its mission to knit entertainment together into a modern all-in-one package, that’s clearly intentional.

At the 2013 E3 show in Los Angeles, we got a chance to play both Ryse: Son of Rome and Crimson Dragon at Microsoft’s booth, but if you were here to hear about games, you probably took a wrong turn at the corner of Giant Bomb and GameSpot. No, here we’ll focus on the look, feel, and functionality of the controller and system.

First of all, the new Xbox One controller feels a bit lighter than the 360’s, and looks like a slightly more angular version of its older brother. It’s just as comfortable, if not more comfortable than the 360’s, as it fits almost perfectly into my rather large hands.


(Credit: Josh Miller/CNET)

The plastic on the face of the controller feels noticeably smooth and the new A, B, X, and Y buttons have a new, more striking coat of paint on them (they’re now black buttons with colored lettering instead of colored buttons). The analog sticks feel suitably tight and precise; however, there’s a distracting, grooved texture that surrounds the top of each stick that I wasn’t a huge fan of. I can see where it might provide a more tactile feel, however.

The D-pad is pretty tight and clicky, but doesn’t feel quick as tight and clicky as I expected. It’s a definite improvement over the 360’s wobbly disaster of a D-pad. But as everyone knows, the true measure of a D-pad is how well it controls fighting games, but I’ve yet to have a chance to play Killer Instinct.


(Credit: Josh Miller/CNET)

The trigger buttons are wider, but still retain their trigger functionality — it’s a trigger initially, then slopes down away from the controller. The X (home) button feels a lot snappier compared with the 360’s; not as snappy as the other face buttons, but not nearly as slow to depress as the 360’s.

Shoulder buttons are wider and depressed quickly, but the plastic seems a bit too thin, giving it a somewhat hollow feel.


(Credit: Josh Miller/CNET)

On the back is a battery compartment door that on my controller has a screw on it, but I think that was specific to the demo version. There’s a very HDMI-looking port on the very bottom that I’m told is simply there for expansion.

As for the console itself, while I’d heard it was smaller than you’d expect, it actually looked as big as it does in pictures, to my eyes at least. If there’s a design theme of the Xbox One, it’s vents and lots of them. Both the console and the Kinect are covered with them.


(Credit: Josh Miller/CNET)

Speaking of Kinect, it’s a lot larger and thicker than the current version.

I didn’t actually get to lift the console, press any of its buttons, or get a clear view of its back, but it definitely feels like a device that wouldn’t be out of place in your entertainment center.

(For a second opinion on the Xbox One, be sure to watch Jeff Bakalar’s video at the top of this story.)

We take a look at the Xbox One (pictures)

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New Kinect
As mentioned above, a new Kinect comes with the Xbox One, complete with improved accuracy. It has a 1080p camera, Skype connectivity, and understanding of rotational movement in a structure like a skeleton. Microsoft even claims the new Kinect can read your heartbeat. It can also recognize your controller, not just your hands — suggesting uses that sound a little like the ones for PlayStation Move’s wand. Unlike what was originally reported, Kinect won’t necessarily need to be activated for all of Xbox One’s features.

The Xbox One’s Kinect.(Credit: James Martin/CNET)

Kinect will also be the brains of the Xbox One’s ability to control all of your devices. An array of infrared blasters flank the front of the new Kinect, which will shoot commands back out at the room you’re in and bounce them off walls and other objects so that they’ll reflect back to all your devices. If you keep items behind cabinet doors you’ll need a hardwired IR blaster akin to what you might see used in a Slingbox setup. For more, check out what Jeff Bakalar found out when he talked to Microsoft’s Marc Whetton about the tech behind Kinect.

‘Always on,’ used games, indie publishing, and lending (reconsidered!)
Following E3 2013 and after nearly a month of taking beating in the press, Microsoft has changed its stand on the Xbox Digital Rights Management (DRM) policies.

First, the good news. The Xbox One will no longer require an Internet connection to play games. Users will connect the console to the Internet during its initial setup, but afterward can play any disc-based or downloaded game for as long as they want, without ever connecting to the Internet again. Of course, if you desire a multiplayer match with people over the Internet, then you’ll need to connect to it.

To drive home the point, Microsoft states, “There is no 24-hour connection requirement and you can take your Xbox One anywhere you want and play your games, just like on Xbox 360.”

Microsoft has also pulled a 180 (I’ll leave any “Xbox 180” jokes to the Internet at large) on how the Xbox One will handle the trade-in, lending, reselling, gifting, and renting of game discs. Essentially stating that it’ll work “just like” it does today on the 360, and “there will be no limitations to using and sharing games.”

Xbox One games will still receive Day One digital downloadable versions; however, games will no longer require that you install them to the One’s built-in hard drive. Also, there will no longer be any regional restrictions on games.

According to Microsoft, the changes will affect its plans for sharing games digitally. Its previous policy stated that Xbox One users would be able to share their entire game library with up to 10 “family members.” So while you played Forza 5 on your Xbox One, a “family member” could be enabled to play your version of any other game in your library on their own Xbox One.

This will no longer be the case. “Downloaded titles cannot be shared or resold. Also, similar to today, playing disc-based games will require that the disc be in the tray.” So much for the brave new digital world. We can only hope that Microsoft slowly integrates these sharing features over the lifespan of the Xbox One, because despite the very vocal (an in many ways justified) DRM critics, that sharing feature was really cool.


Home entertainment
Microsoft promises that Xbox One is a better-connected way of linking live TV, games, and entertainment in one unit — something the Xbox 360 already does, but will do more via commands like “Xbox, on.” As was said during the initial press conference, you’re “going to have a relationship with your TV.” The elevator pitch: take on a living room that has become “too complex,” and make a system that knits together games, TV, and entertainment. Microsoft wants Xbox One to intercept every cable or satellite connection before it gets to your TV and tailor the Xbox experience around the content you already view everyday.

The Kinect sensor again comes into play here. The accessory enables voice and gesture control, both of which are integrated into the Xbox One’s TV control. Watching live TV will involve maximizing and minimizing the screen in a top corner. Live TV will be part of the Xbox One experience, via HDMI-in. Yes, cable TV compatibility looks like part of the package. Judging from what Microsoft has shown and told CNET, almost every cable and satellite provider will be compatible with Xbox’s live TV integration (as long as the source box uses an HDMI-out).

(Credit: CNET)

We still have yet to see or fully understand the technology Xbox One will use in the ambitious integration of your pre-existing TV service. However, Scott Stein got to see how the NFL and ESPN integration will look first hand.

The Xbox One does knit together new voice commands to do some PC-like stuff: you can order movie tickets, for instance, engage in Skype, or pull up fantasy sports stats while watching a game. The conversational, Siri-meets-Google Now-like voice commands hopefully will have clear menu representation on the console, as otherwise it could get confusing.

“It’s an all-in-one entertainment console” is a pitch we’ve heard before, dating back to the PlayStation 3 and before that — really, going back all the way to the 3DO. It hasn’t always worked, but the Xbox One is better positioned because the Xbox 360’s already pretty successful at being an excellent streaming-video device.

Microsoft is also bringing exclusive video content and some unique interactivity to the TV party. At the Xbox One’s May 21 rollout, Steven Spielberg announced a new TV series based on Halo, and the NFL demonstrated some level of interaction with fantasy stats and Skyping with NFL broadcasts.

Under the hood, details so far include an eight-core processor and graphics made by AMD, 8GB of RAM, Blu-ray, USB 3.0, HDMI in/out, and a 500GB hard drive. Besides all of this, Microsoft is promising a new operating system fusing Xbox and Windows.

The Xbox One architecture has “three operating systems in one”: Xbox, a kernel of Windows (perhaps like Windows RT), and a multitasking interface. The idea seems to be that this console will be a multitasker at heart. Check out a head-to-head comparison with the PlayStation 4 specs known so far, however, and you can see that the distance between Sony and Microsoft, in terms of hardware, will be shorter than ever.

On a number of occasions Microsoft has shared with CNET that its Xbox One team has been relentless tweaking the system’s GPU specs. In fact, they recently announced that they’ve upped the clock speed in the Xbox One’s processor from 1.6GHz to 1.75GHz. In addition, the Xbox One’s GPU clock speed has been bumped up slightly from 800MHz to 853MHz.


The Xbox One controller(Credit: James Martin/CNET)

The tablet-based SmartGlass experience will center on the Xbox One, and will work as before with a variety of phones and tablets. Baked-in Wi-Fi Direct on the Xbox One will allow Bluetooth-like direct communication between external devices, which could come in handy for other future peripherals, too.

Now with SmartGlass you’ll be able start single-player games, set up multiplayer matches, view achievements, and purchase in-game add-ons. With the new game Ryse, Microsoft demonstrated the ability to get instant real-time stat comparisons with friends you play with. You’ll also have access to any Game DVR videos they’ve uploaded.

Of course some of these features will be tethered to the desire of third party developers, but judging by their enthusiasm it’s safe to say most first-party Xbox One titles will feature SmartGlass in some capacity.

Xbox Live
Built on the existing service and usernames, the new Xbox Live promises 300,000 servers for the Xbox One, a whopping number. Matchmaking services will work while you’re doing other tasks like watching movies or Web browsing, and bigger, more quickly connecting matches are promised, too. Microsoft has discussed some cloud services on the Xbox One that seem promising: user-based cloud game saves, uploaded game recording, and even the potential for cloud-processing-enhanced games. You can read what CNET’s Roger Cheng learned about cloud computing and other Xbox One tech here.

For all you football team and cheerleading squad captains out there, Xbox Live’s maximum friends list gets a boost from 100 friends to “all of your friends.” It’s unclear, though, if that truly means an unlimited capacity. Also, Microsoft says if you’re a Gold member, anyone in your household will be able to use your Gold member benefits, including multiplayer matches, without you being signed in at all.

Microsoft stated at E3 that Xbox Live will no longer use its sometimes misleading space bucks Microsoft Points currency, but is joining the rest of the world and using real-world currency.

Game DVR automatically records the last few seconds of your gameplay and allows you to upload video of your latest triumph for others to see. Using Upload Studio, gamers can “curate, edit, share, and publish” videos of gameplay, directly from the machine, according to Microsoft.


Upload Studio’s editing options seem pretty limited. Not to take away from the potentially cool feature.(Credit: Josh Miller/CNET)

In the demo Microsoft gave, Game DVR recorded the last 31 seconds of Killer Instinct gameplay, but it’s unclear whether that number can be adjusted. Through the interface, you’ll have the option to cut the footage down to whatever bad-ass moment you want to focus on.

You can then add commentary using Kinect and choose a skin to add what looks light predetermined thematic elements like slowdown or comic-book-like panels showing multiple hits in dramatic fashion. Hopefully, we’ll have a chance to play around with this option soon and get more details on its interface and option.

The Xbox One fully integrates Twitch’s live-streaming capabilities. Xbox Live Gold subscribers will be able to not only live stream their own gameplay — with the option to add voice or video to the stream with Kinect — but also watch streams of others as well.


Killer Instinct footage on the Xbox One getting its own live stream, thanks to Twitch.(Credit: Josh Miller/CNET)

This is all accomplished within the Xbox One’s interface and seemed to deliver a simple and quick interface, at least during the stage demo. Microsoft said that viewers watching the game stream will also have the ability to participate and affect the game, but whether it was simply referring to joining the live Twitch chat (seen on screen) or something more specific isn’t yet clear.

Live streaming my games is something I’ve thought about doing for a long time, and the fact that it’ll be this easy to actually do is endlessly intriguing.


The Xbox One will not be backward compatible with the Xbox 360, but anyone doubting the Xbox One’s gaming cred need only to sit through its 1.5-hour Pre-E3 press conference presentation where it showed off about about as many as it could fit into that time.

A new Halo game was previewed as well as other sequels: Dead Rising 3, Forza 5, and Metal Gear Solid 5. That’s great and all, and must delight the fanboys, but what was more impressive was the number of new franchises that were featured.


Project Spark looks incredibly cool and original.(Credit: Josh Miller/CNET )

Some of these titles include games like the ambitious sandbox-building Project Spark that features an ever-changing player-dictated game world or the open-world shooter Sunset Overdrive, with its wall-running, shotgun-toting hero and an impressively colorful — but still violent — world.

Also, the Super Brothers EP-developed (makers of Sword and Sworcery) game called Below that demonstrated, beneath the senses-shattering bombast of its presentation, that smaller games will still have a place on the Xbox One.

On August 20, Microsoft released a list of 23 games that will be available alongside Xbox One when it launches November22.

  • Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag (Ubisoft, Ubisoft)
  • Battlefield 4 (DICE, Electronic Arts)
  • Call of Duty: Ghosts (Infinity Ward, Activision)
  • Crimson Dragon (Grounding/Land Ho!, Microsoft Studios)
  • Dead Rising 3 (Capcom Vancouver, Microsoft)
  • FIFA 14 (EA Sports, Electronic Arts)
  • Fighter Within (AMA Ltd., Ubisoft)
  • Forza Motorsport 5 (Turn 10 Studios, Microsoft Studios)
  • Just Dance 2014 (Ubisoft Paris, Ubisoft)
  • Killer Instinct (Double Helix, Microsoft Studios)
  • Lego Marvel Super Heroes (TT Games, Warner Bros. Interactive)
  • Lococycle (Twisted Pixel, Microsoft Studios)
  • Madden NFL 25 (EA Sports, Electronic Arts)
  • NBA 2K14 (Visual Concepts, 2K Sports)
  • NBA LIVE 14 (EA Sports, Electronic Arts)
  • Need for Speed: Rivals (Ghost Games, Electronic Arts)
  • Peggle 2 (Popcap, Electronic Arts)
  • Powerstar Golf (Zoe Mode, Microsoft Studios)
  • Ryse: Son of Rome (Crytek, Microsoft Studios)
  • Skylanders: Swap Force (Vicarious Visions, Activision)
  • Watch Dogs (Ubisoft Montreal, Ubisoft)
  • Zoo Tycoon (Frontier Developments Ltd., Microsoft Studios)
  • Zumba Fitness: World Party (Zoe Mode, Majesco)
Babatunde Akinsola
Babatunde Akinsola
Babatunde Akinsola is aNaija247news' Southwest editor. He's based in Lagos and writes on the Yoruba Nation political issues, news and investigative reports

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