After lining up for over two hours to secure a decent seat for the Xbox One presentation, guests were finally allowed to enter the main hall at PAX Aus where the conference would take place. Luckily the wait was well worth it, as the crowd were presented with a professional, fun, informative and quite frankly awesome showing that I’m sure managed to disspell some negative opinions about Microsoft’s latest console.
Starting off with the E3 reveal video, some points were then brought up to feature the systems highlights. Many focused on the computational power of the Xbox One and how the system has been future proofed for the next ten years with the addition of the Cloud. The presenter stated that for every Xbox One in your living room, another 3 Xbox One’s were behind the scenes providing additional processing power. The Cloud can also be used to give unlimited storage to the user. Some other features discussed include 1080p Skype on your television, multi tasking and fast switching between applications and the 2 operating systems working side by side.
The presentation then moved onto the Kinect 2.0 which seems much, much, much more impressive then the original Kinect. The sensor has been greatly enhanced and can track the player with much more fidelity. The camera can now recognise individual fingers and different facial expressions and emotions. The Kinect demonstrator would change his face and the sensor would accurately depict his experssion such as happy, angry or neutral.
In terms of the camera’s ability to actually sense you and your movements, Kinect 2.0 can now detect up to 6 seperate players at once, track the player in a much wider area with only one metre required between the player and the camera and the new IR Mode, which is essentially night vision for the Kinect and means no more needing to play in perfectly lit rooms. IR Mode can also filter out external light sources. Some other impressive Kinect 2.0 features included the ability to track the users heart rate by checking their blood flow and being able to detect the orientation and speed of movement as well as the distribution of weight in the player. For example, a quick jab will register different to a heavy punch.
For people that still hold some resentment for motion controls, the improved controller was next up on center stage. The 40 improvements made to the 360 controller were discussed briefly and alot of focus was placed on the new impulse triggers, which provide haptic feedback to the fingertips. Some examples shown were different recoil on different guns, feeling the heartbeat of the character when they are near death or feeling the pressure of the ABS brakes as you brake in Forza 5.
Then came what everyone in the room wanted to see, live demos. First game up was new IP Ryse: Son of Rome. The medieval demonstration shown was similar to the E3 build and featured all the brutal kills and sword clashing action that had been shown previously. The girl playing seem well practiced as she easily slaughtered armies of enemies trying to cut her down with cool finishing moves like stabbing someone in the neck with their back turned or crushing their face into the dirt.
The most impressive part of the demo was when the player rallied his troops to charge the castle and the enemy would fire back with a barrage of flaming arrows. The player could command the army to raise the shields at the right time and then counter with their own arrows and throwing spears. It might have just been because of the loud booming speakers in the presentation hall, but the sound was truly awe inspiring as you could really hear the heavy impact of every arrow raining down on your squad. At the end of the demo the presenter said over 100 finishing moves will be present in the final game.
Next up was Battlefield 4 with the single player Angry Sea demo. The presenter mentioned they wanted to bring the things people loved in the multiplayer over to the campaign such as vehicles and marking opponents so your AI team mates know where they are. He also placed some heavy emphasis on the campaign, saying while in the past Battlefield has focused more on military like campaigns, this one will be a much more character driven experience. The development team are using ‘full performance’ capture technology to bring more realness to scenes as opposed to capturing an actors movements and then syncing them up with the vocals provided by a seperate voice actor. Battlefield 4 will also feature enhanced destruction (because destruction is to Battlefield what Tim Tams are to hot cocoa apparently) and a feature that really stood out to me, the ability to create your own paths in the environment to flank the enemy. The demo featured multiple paths the player could take and various options to utilise in combat, such as taking out the tracks holding fighter jets in place so they would roll down the ship, taking out enemies below.
At the end of the Battlefield 4 demo the presenter also stated that the game will launch alongside the Xbox One and will have first access to the Second Assault DLC which includes 4 fan favourite maps redone to fit with the Frostbite 3 engine.
The last game shown was Killer Instinct which again was a similar showing to E3 with a match between Sabrewulf and Jago. The match consisted of many savage combos and the one c-c-c-c-combo breaker executed garnered a large roar from the crowd. Jago ended up with the win much to the dismay of the crowd who really wanted to see a big comeback from Sabrewulf with an ultimate combo. Killer Instinct led as a segway to discuss some of the Xbox One’s community features that seem perfectly suited for fighters. These included live Twitch Broadcasting so players can watch and comment on your match in real time, the game DVR in the Xbox One allowing players to record and share content and the huge amount of dedicated Xbox Live servers meaning things like P2P and host migration will be a thing of the past.
The show wrapped up with one final announcement before displaying the Halo 5 trailer to close out the presentation. The EB Expo in Sydney will be host to an Xbox One mega booth, where players can get their hands on over 100 consoles to try it out for themselves.
As Borat would say, the presentation was ‘great success!’ It definitely helped swing my opinion of the Xbox One which seems to be en route for a PR turn around after the recent decision to reverse all the controversial DRM decisions. Hopefully the positive momentum can continue before the system launches later this year.
Stay with Capsule Computers to check out all our coverage from PAX Aus 2013.