Xbox – Making the jump to Next-Gen!

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There’s been quite a lot of rumors floating around about the next generations of consoles. Some are beyond obscene and extremely over the top, where as others are probably more correct that some people want to believe. I’ve missed just about every generation when it comes to the next generation, I’ve always been late, and always only been casual to the point of playing the odd game series. With this currently generation that changed for me seeing as I started to get into writing guides and reviews.

So as we’ve been running this site for nearly three years, it hit me that I’ve not been part of the change from one system to the next. I’ve managed to adopt every platform I’ve played on at least 2 years later than everyone else. Now that my time has finally come to enjoy the reveal and launch of a new set of systems and next generation of games, I thought I’d put together what I’d like to see for the next Xbox seeing as the reveal is tomorrow.

We’ve already seen quite a few games announced for the next generation, which from my standpoint has been good and bad. I’m not going to go into game releases as it seems that all the next generation games will also launch on the PS3 and 360. This is obviously to keep people interested in the brands, but does that sort of kill the whole exclusive right to upgrade your system to say hey, I got this game, it’s awesome. Yet so did everyone else because they just picked it up for their current systems.

With tomorrows reveal, there’s a lot of speculation about what’s going to be shown. I for one hope there’s a lot of information for us to enjoy, and I also hope that this event doesn’t suffer from what seems like a dying presentation format used for every big reveal. The past few E3 events haven’t really been stunning, they’ve also been full of terrible jokes, lacking information and overall boring presentation.

For me, a reveal should be exciting, I want to see the hardware, even if it’s just a concept design. I want to know the general specs, I want to see Blu-Ray. I don’t want to be shunned into seeing genera specs of 8gbs of ram and an “advanced processor” and hardware. Give me something I can really think about. There’s a lot companies don’t want to spill for the fact that they use it for marketing further down the line. This if fair, as if they put all the details out on the table early on, people will forget and move on quickly.

From my standpoint, I’d rather know more sooner rather than later so I can make up my mind about the system, and if I really want to invest any time or money into it.

Now I’ve got past the general stuff, there are things I really like about the current Xbox which I really like, obviously there’s a huge amount of people out there who hate a lot of what the 360 has become, but here are a few things I hope continue forward.

The Live Experience

Xbox Live, even though it’s over priced hasn’t really put me off paying for it. I enjoy my profile, avatar, gamerscore/achievements and the ability to communicate with friends via party chat and xbox.com. There’s not much I’d really do to the current model, apart from add to it. The biggest request by far is obviously the friends list limitations. I’d like to see an extension to xbox.com which allows you to do more, be more social, make it more like some of the other websites out there that track achievements and your friends. And of course, extended the friends list.

The Dashboard

The 360 dashboard is either loved or hated by the masses. Personally, I have no issues with it aside from it can be a huge annoyance to find some things. So if you want your new DLC or arcade title, you may have to dig for it. There’s the obvious addition of ads, but with the mass complaints about the advertising, as far as I’m aware, it’s always been the same amount, it’s just been placed differently with each release. I have no complaints, but it could do with some alternations to make it faster and less bloatwarey.

The Controller

For me personally, the 360 controller is the perfect controller design. It fits my hands perfectly, which the PS3 controller doesn’t. It has the right weight and feels just right so I don’t get uncomfortable while playing. This is something I hope doesn’t get changed too much, if at all. My only complaint about the controllers are the thumbsticks tend to wear in a way that you will always walk to the left or right, and end up with an unbalance in controls.

The Online Experience

So a lot of people have been set on this always online rumor were used games will become obsolete, and your console will need to validate everything. I personally don’t think the always online information that was mentioned some time ago was taken in the right context. I do think the new consoles will always be online, but not to the extent where it’s to force you to play online. I don’t think it’s a form of DRM, and I don’t think it’s there to punish people for wanting used games.

The way I see it is, the console will always stay connected to the internet so it can download updates and make your connection to the Live network faster. So your profile will sign in quickly, your cloud data, if used, will be ready to use and so you can jump into the online experience faster. If you don’t plug the console into a network or internet connection, I don’t think you’re going to be punished and end up with a box that doesn’t do anything.

I do enjoy the Live experience to an extent, but only because the community can make some games completely unbearable to play. This would be my main reason for avoiding games such as Call of Duty for their multiplayer.

The Hardware

Something I really want to see is a huge upgrade to the current generation’s hardware. We already know this system will continue its current formula as they have done from from the xbox to the 360. This generation is starting to struggle with visuals and game performance, so obviously a decent processor, GPU and Ram is a must, but please don’t shaft me with hard drive space. We live in an age where you can now pick up a 2tb external drive fro $100, there’s no reason to charge $100 for a third of that size. Ship the console with a decent size hard drive, say at least 250gbs, and offer a 1gb upgrade for a reasonable price.

The machines design will obviously fall somewhere similar to what we have now, or I hope we do. The simple design works well, and it doesn’t look out-of-place. There’s far too many super fancy designs going on with Blu-Ray players these days, as well as console designs. The only thing I do like about the Wii-U is the fact that it looks simple.

Please include some some form of HD media, as games get better looking, DL-DVD’s just fall behind with storage capacity. This obviously leads to developers compressing games which look stunning on their PC platforms.

The Applications

There’s no doubt about it, Microsoft are pushing the 360 towards a media hub, this is something that isn’t going away, but if done right I have no problems with it. The current issues I do have with the apps is that you need to be a gold subscriber to use them. This is a bit of an insult to anyone who doesn’t have a gold subscription as if you want Netflix, you obviously have to pay out twice for two services.

So far, I’ve found little use for the applications on Live, mainly because I’m not into streaming movies and tv shows from a service that rarely updates their library. If future streaming services come to the network, please make sure they function correctly. Netflix is one of the few apps I have used in the past, and it failed to impress once it was upgraded to the latest and greatest. It would often crash, or lock up while browsing the rather large flood of information.

As this is part of the future of the Live network, please continue to add apps, but make sure they work properly and give the users the best experience without making it feel like a chore.

Playing Backwards

Backwards compatibly isn’t something I’m really too concerned about, but a lot of people want it. I hope the step forward means that you can take your 360 discs and play through the next Xbox without emulation or extra software. Unless there’s some crazy configuration that doesn’t allow for this, I would be great if we could use either or disc to play our favorite games current and next gen on the same system.

The Conclusion

There’s a lot to be desired in the world of games, and have a decent system to play your games on is one of them. I’ve been a PC gamer in the past, I’ve also taken the Playstation route. I’ve played anything and everything from retro to the current generation, and soon to be the future generation of games. This generation has had its ups and downs, but there have been some great steps forward. I hope Microsoft takes the route of just enhancing their current experience with a new system that takes the current fundamentals, then adds to them, beefs up the hardware and allows you to continue the same experience they’ve been offering for the past few years.

So hopefully tomorrows event will bring us up to speed with the latest and greatest. I want to see the system, new IPs, GPU/CPU power and I want to know what the system looks like. Holding off what the console looks like just makes me lose interest. I may know the specs, but with no visual representation of what to expect, it’s just information with no box.

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