The console war is hotter than ever.
It's strange, to me, that my choice of next-gen console was so easy to make. Microsoftâs Xbox One has soared ahead in the battle for gamers hearts, in my opinion, and Iâm going to tell you why. I wonât start with the usual âI own every consoleâ argument in an effort to further validate my opinion - because the console war, regardless of what is said, is also a war for our hearts (or brand loyalty), and I canât seem to get the Xbox One out of my mind.
The Xbox One will be the third console from Microsoft, who have undeniably been extremely successful with the Xbox 360. Microsoft share prices have been increasing in value throughout the life cycle of the Xbox 360, although in terms of raw sales the Xbox 360 and PS3 are neck and neck.
It also seems that the console war is at its most potent around launch time, due to limited financial resources meaning that gamers have to make a choice, and inevitably pick up the pitchforks to justify their position.
Since the Xbox One was announced itâs been at the forefront of controversy with itâs earlier (now cancelled) online policies. But despite all this, the Xbox One seems to be offering a true next-gen experience.
The Xbox One promises to pack a big punch - sure, on paper, the PS4 has a performance advantage, but if Iâve learnt anything in the last years, with the rise of Indie games, itâs that pure horsepower isnât everything when it comes to designing masterful videogames. The previous generation of consoles had an even greater performance gap. But the Xbox One is sleek, beautiful, and whisper quiet in operation - an enviable prospect.
We also know that Microsoft have an enormous wealth of experience in the software development area, and have ensured that the Xbox One has a newer than new version of DirectX running - and itâs this driver support that I believe will see a reasonably level playing field once both consoles hit the market. Great API support also means that games become easier to develop, and the ease with which developers will be able to float between Windows 8 and the Xbox One will result in some great cross-platform titles.
Sporting three operating systems which run simultaneously, it will make sure your games are always up-to-date via background updates. One of the strengths of the Xbox 360 was the ease with which games were updated, but it definitely was missing an auto-update feature which would ensure when you were ready to play, so was the game.
Gaming - it has been argued - is taking a backseat for Microsoft, with the Xbox One vying for the desirable position of top dog in your entertainment unit. Television and streaming media are being pushed in a big way. The Xbox One is set to revolutionise the way we watch TV, by using the console's power to allow you to snap between TV, media, and gaming, or do two things at once. Not only that but the Xbox One now sports a Blu-ray player - a must have for any console wanting to take the lead.
The HDMI input will allow you to run any HDMI device through the Xbox One â such as your TV set-top-box. What this means is that you will be able to control your TV through the Xbox One, right down to the channel you are watching. It remains to be seen if we will be able to access New Zealandâs Electronic Programme Guide (EPG) - so the console can overlay this information - from the get-go; some localisation questions that have yet to be answered by Microsoft. For someone who uses their Xbox 360 for media in a big way, all this media functionality is great news.
I canât write an article about why Iâm sold on the Xbox One without emphasising the importance of Xbox Live. Microsoft are really throwing their weight behind Xbox Live, and ensuring that the Xbox One will have immense server-side support. This âCloudâ will allow gamers to store their content, and for developers to utilise dedicated servers. What this means is that we will be able to connect to fast, consistent, and well-supported online multiplayer matches. The benefits of dedicated servers proved themselves this generation and Microsoft appear to be taking the concept to another level.
An added benefit of the Cloud is that games can utilise it to help generate additional game content or processing. An example of this is how the Cloud supports Forza Motorsport 5âs âDrivatarsâ - effectively a merge of gamer's personal racing styles with that of an AI - in order to generate a multitude of realistic driving behaviours that, in theory, will make the AI come truly to life when you connect to Xbox Live. How the Cloud is taken advantage of definitely remains to be seen - and as many have pointed out it really is just a server array, so how it works will likely be down to developers.
An enhanced reputation system too has been developed for the Xbox One which hopefully means more fun online. People who consistently grief other players will ultimately end up in a game full of other griefers, leaving those of us who want a bit more casual fun just to get on with it. Matchmaking undoubtedly has always been a strength on the Xbox 360, and itâs likely to just get better on the Xbox One.
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