We all know the Xbox One is a bit of a wimp in the hardware stakes and with the seemingly imminent announcement of a new PS4k or whatever it may turn out to be you would expect a response from Microsoft. Well this week we got one and from the man himself, Mr Xbox Phil Spencer in an interview with GameInformer Phil shot down the rumours stating:
“I’m not a big fan of Xbox One and a half. If we’re going to move forward, I want to move forward in big numbers,” Spencer said. “I don’t know anything about any of the rumors that are out there, but I can understand other teams’ motivations to do that.”
I can see where Phil is coming from any suggestion that Microsoft maybe about to drop an updated Xbox so soon after the Xbox One launch could result in a nerd backlash not seen since the E3 announcement but you can’t escape the fact that Sony is marching towards total domination based solely on the superior hardware platform. This is before Nintendo throw the NX into the discussion, we still don’t know just how capable that hardware shall be but they have 5 years on the current gen consoles. Mario Kart in glorious 1080/60fps and handing Nintendo’s first party developers a supremely powerful platform to work on and you can see them doing something special.
This does thrown into question exactly what Phil Spencer meant when discussing how Microsoft could bring Hardware innovation to a console in the middle of it’s life cycle. Sony are doing exactly that with their VR solution that includes custom Hardware to drive the device without causing any system overhead. With the more powerful Sony console needing a little push I would expect the same to be true for the Xbox One and the interesting HoloLens.
Having that additional overhead running on an underpowered platform would be disastrous for Microsoft and the Xbox brand as a whole so it would make sense to see some kind of external hardware upgrade. Microsoft did look at a similar solution when designing the 1st generation Kinect launched and decided against going with additional external processing due to cost reason a decision which fatally compromised the experience. Any future upgrade or new console would only be launched if it was a big, step forward in terms of power and capability.
If we’re going to go forward with anything, like I said, I want it to be a really substantial change for people – an upgrade.”
Onto more positive news and we finally get the Bioshock Franchise on Xbox One via backwards compatibility in the coming months. Anyone that know me will be aware of my deep love for the franchise to the extent that I have Elizabeth and a Songbird tattooed onto my neck. I’m still hoping we get a full HD remastered collection sometime in the future and with E3 around the corner I wouldn’t be surprised to see something revealed then. Having played through them all on Xbox and then on PC where the beauty of the level design and visuals aren’t restricted by the hardware the PC experience is by far the best. Not all games benefit from enhanced visuals but games like Bioshock that are so heavy on design and atmosphere feel even more real, even more disturbing and beautiful to experience. This is especially true when playing the final game in the series where the engine really felt constrained on the Xbox and the Framerate always struggled to stay at a playable level. The PC version was sublime offering a full 1080p presentation and a super smooth framerate that really benefited the games frantic combat and large outdoor environments.
Knowing many of my friends may have missed the series the first time round is reason enough to want a full HD collection of one of gaming most iconic franchises.
Finally we get our hands on perhaps the first true Next Gen game with the Launch of Remedy Entertainment’s ambitious Quantum Break. First announced way back on the ZX Spectrum Quantum Break takes the staple 3rd person action game into new territory by weaving in live action, high quality interactive cut scenes that flesh out the story based on decisions you make in the game. Whilst we’re not talking about HBO quality just yet Remedy are again pushing into uncharted territory with their innovative approach to story telling within a video game. This is nothing new for Remedy who are of course responsible for the excellent Alan Wake series that put a strong, narrative heavy story right at the front of the experience. Early review are largely positive with glowing praise for it’s scale, ambition and visuals taking centre stage.
I’ll be picking this up once I’m done with the Division in a few weeks so look out for a review once I’ve completed it.