At first, I really wanted to shit all over this Xbox One reveal. Really wanted to shit all over it. I couldn't ignore the feeling that I hate the idea of an "entertainment" console. For whatever reason, the big three have this weird obsession with taking over our living rooms and making everything accessible from one platform and it just doesn't sit well with me. I guess it's too much to ask for just games nowadays, right?
Except, the more I thought about it, the more I actually liked the Xbox One reveal. During the reveal I found myself impressed and excited about what I was seeing, which was weird because I expected it to be a hide-your-kids-cuz-its-taking-over-the-living-space, multi-purpose console and that's exactly what I got.
I think this feeling stems from the Wii U, which too tried its hand at taking over the living room. The problem, and this is where I find my delight in the Xbox One, is that the Wii U's attempt in doing so ended up taking away from the most important part of a video game console: video games.
On the other hand, the Xbox One does not do this and I love it for it. As in, no matter how much Microsoft wants to control my living room, I am also given the option to completely ignore that bullshit.
The Wii U constantly reminds us of Nintendo's ham-fisted piercing of our living rooms with the tablet right in front of our faces. It's a gimmick I didn't like at E3 2011 and its one I still do not like to this day. Building a console around a gimmick that does not cater to the needs of gamers makes it easy to give it the cold shoulder. Instead of focusing on actually delivering games, Nintendo focused on essentially everything else.
This doesn't seem to be the case with the Xbox One. Sure, the reveal was mostly an odd claim that the average person can't watch television without some sort of dilemma apparently, but we also can easily understand that Microsoft still cares about an actual lineup of games for its system.
The best example of this is the new controller (which, by the way, looks majestic as hell and I can't wait to get my hands on it). There's no gimmicks here. The d-pad seems refined; the analog sticks look better than ever; and the controller overall maintains the sleekness that the preceding 360 captured so well. There's nothing stopping me from picking up an Xbox One controller and hoping into a game of Call of Duty: Ghosts Forza Motorsport 5 while completely ignoring all the new features.
Not only that, but we're promised 15 exclusives for the console already, half of which are new IPs. I seriously cannot stress enough what it feels like as a passionate Nintendo fan to see a new Nintendo console come out and the best they have to offer is a Mario game that has been released three times over already and "launch titles" that still aren't on shelves yet. So, yeah, that's big.
I felt that the Wii U's attempts to control my living space were not only fruitless, but half-baked (and not in the good way huehuehuehue). I feel no need to try and traverse the Wii U's assortment of gimmicks with the big tablet, while the features present on the Xbox One not only seem better executed, but less intrusive. I don't need a huge iPad-like device on my lap to watch TV. I might as well use the remotes given to me by the TV company that I already have. But if I can watch TV with a swipe of my hand and with an interface that seamlessly integrates multiple aspects of the Xbox One experience all at the same time, why in the world would I ever use Nintendo TVii?
Sure, the reveal had some bumps. Ten minutes devoted to a new Call of Duty game? T'was only worth it for the dog. Numerous segments devoted to sports games? They aren't exclusives, move along. What did we really get? Not much. Still, it's clear that Microsoft is saving a ton of juicy goodness for E3 (a smart move since the PS4 already laid its cards on the table and Nintendo won't be having a presser on its own) and with all of that stuff out the way, Microsoft can now focus on what really matters for this upcoming conference: the games.
Now, I find myself more comfortable with the idea having a big entertainment console The new interfaces, features, and the like look amazing! I'm genuinely excited about them. And, I'm genuinely excited that I can enjoy my games without feeling like I'm being forced into buying a DVD player, cable box, and low-powered PC, too. I mean, technically I am, but at least I can game as much as I want without having myself shoehorned into gimmicks.
Is there some stuff I'm worried about? Of course. I don't really like the always-on Kinect feature (I think that's the first time I've even mentioned Kinect in over a year). I think competitive gaming may run into some roadblocks as well and that bothers me, too. A lot of the requirements just to play a game or play a game with my friend may put me off. There's a lot of unknowns. That's good - we only saw an hour's worth of content.
Yet, I feel oddly optimistic. Yes, PC is still where its at and I'm not regretting saving up for a godlike desktop, but after the Wii U being essentially dead-on-arrival as far as I'm concerned and the PS4 only barely able to keep my attention, this is the first time I actually have interest in the next generation of consoles.
Or maybe it's just the CoD dog. It could be just the CoD dog. We'll have to see when E3 arrives if the hype is actually real.
UPDATE: Instead of writing an entirely new blog, just wanted add this.
I liked the reveal for another reason - Microsoft got all the non-game stuff out of the way. Wanted a press conference devoted entirely to television features and Skype? Of course not. Now we don't have to worry about it. We got the chance to meet and understand the console without having to do so at E3. Microsoft can now dedicate their E3 presser and floor plans entirely to games rather than trying to fight the media hassles of revealing a brand new console at the event itself.
So yeah, the reveal was good for that, too.