The Bulletin

Xbox One

Xbone

Microsoft made a mess of the Xbox One reveal last week. Now that the dust has settled, here’s what we know (and what we don’t).

By Sam Barsanti • May 28, 2013

The Bulletin is a roundup of a few game-related news stories from the previous week.

Microsoft reveals a new generation

You probably already know that there’s a new Xbox on the way later this year. Maybe you watched the unveiling on Spike, between re-runs of Cops and The Ultimate Fighter, or maybe you followed along with the Gameological liveblog. Either way, we’ve had almost a week to let the dust settle, so this seems like a good time to dig through all of the information and answer some questions about the newly unveiled Xbox One.

What is it? The official website goes into more detail than we will here, but here’s the lowdown: Xbox One is a machine that plays video games and also does other stuff. Its insides are fancier than the Xbox 360, it has a Blu-Ray drive, and every system comes with an upgraded version of the Kinect camera. It also allows HDMI pass-through, which lets you connect your cable box to it and watch TV on your TV, which might not seem very revelatory, but it means you can yell at your Kinect to put on Adventure Time, and it totally will.

What’s with that name? Surprisingly, the Xbox One is not called that because it’s a prequel. The idea is that it’s the one device you need in your living room, since it gives you access to games, movies, and now TV. Of course, in order to watch TV you need a “supported television tuner or cable/satellite set top box,” according to the fine print on the official site. So that means you need at least one other thing under your television. I guess the name “Xbox One Plus A Cable Box And Maybe Some Other Stuff” was too clunky. Plus, Xbox One can be shortened into Xbone, which is awesome.

Xbox One

Can it play my old Xbox 360 games? Nope, according to this Wired article. That includes both disc-based and downloaded games. But apparently any movies or music you’ve bought will transfer over to the Xbox One. That seems like more of a happy accident than a conscious design decision, though, since most 360 owners would probably prefer to keep access to their Rock Band songs or Xbox Live Arcade collection than that copy of Ryan Reynolds’ Safe House they bought when they were drunk.

Does it require an internet connection? Remember the latest SimCity? In order to play it, you needed to be online. People weren’t crazy about that. Recently, the internet citizens who care about such things have been worried that both new consoles—the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One—would have some similar feature in order to fight piracy. Now we know where the Xbox stands, sort of. As reported by Kotaku, the official word from Microsoft is that “it does not have to be always connected, but Xbox One does require a connection to the internet.” That’s not clear at all, so Kotaku pushed a little further and got Microsoft vice president Phil Harrison to admit that the system needs to connect to the internet once per day. That seems like a straightforward answer, but then someone else from Microsoft told Polygon that the once-per-day requirement is just another “potential scenario.” In other words, Microsoft is probably in damage control mode and wants to keep information that people might not like under wraps.

Can it play used games? The other big concern was that the Xbox One would somehow stop people from playing used games. That Wired article mentions that the console allows (or possibly requires) you to install any game to its hard drive and play it without the disc, which seems to suggest a potential hurdle for pre-owned titles—that is to say, it’s a potential hurdle that completely wipes them from existence. Wired says that Microsoft would allow you to pay a fee to grant ownership to a second account so that someone else can play the game as well. A Microsoft representative, however, said in that same Polygon article that this is only a “potential scenario.” So, yeah, damage control. The Xbox One is supposed to launch later this year, and hopefully we’ll know more about it by then.

Max Payne and Alan Wake creators break quantum on the Xbox One

Despite Microsoft’s best efforts, the Xbone reveal wasn’t all about watching TV on your game console. It also showed off a few of the new games that will be coming to the system. First up was Quantum Break, which, as reported by The Verge, will “merge a TV show and gaming together.” So, again, it involves TV. Before I get too snarky, I should point out that Quantum Break is being developed by Remedy Entertainment, the studio that created Max Payne and Alan Wake, the latter of which is the secret best game of the last few years. (It’s a secret because that’s really not true, but I still like it a lot.) In related news, Remedy’s creative director, Sam Lake, took to YouTube to explain why the studio isn’t currently working on an Alan Wake sequel, despite the fact that it ended on a crazy cliffhanger and I really want a sequel.

Next Call Of Duty to prominently feature the tragic death of a beloved dog

Aside from the briefly glimpsed racing game sequel Forza Motorsport 5, the only other big game at Microsoft’s event was Call Of Duty: Ghosts. Viewers were treated to some behind-the-scenes video and a trailer that consisted entirely of clips from cutscenes. At first blush, it looks shockingly similar to every other Call Of Duty released in the last six years, with its slow-motion shots of helicopters and soldier dudes aiming guns at stuff. But then comes the megaton reveal: a dog. Welcome to the next generation of video games! The Call Of Duty series has never shied away from cheap attempts at narrative depth, between its infamous “No Russian” mission and the tragic deaths of main characters whose names I couldn’t remember if my life depended on it. This dog, however, seems like a slam dunk. Imagine if he’s hanging around you for the whole campaign, carrying your ammo, growling at terrorists, chasing butterflies around the battlefield, and rolling around asking for belly rubs. Then suddenly, BAM—a sniper nails Mr. Barkington. He’s laying in your arms and licking your face as he drifts off to doggy heaven, and then you pull out your Desert Eagle and single-handedly save the world or whatever. It’s a lock for game of the year.

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  • ferrarimanf355

    Um, you guys forgot about Forza Motorsport 5, that was revealed at the X1 launch. Even though I wanted a new Project Gotham Racing, I’ll take it.

    • ferrarimanf355

      And in other racing game news, EA unveiled Need for Speed Rivals last week.

      Ferrari is back. That is all. EA has my money. Can’t wait to smoke cops in a F12berlinetta.

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    • Sam_Barsanti

      Ah, right. There were a lot of sports games, too, but COD and a new game from the Alan Wake folks seemed the most exciting to me. 

      • GaryX

        I can’t wait to see all the unavoidable “think-pieces” that are going to come out about the narrative depth Call of Duty: Ghosts has because of that damn dog. It’ll be the series Cortana or something which probably means we’re in for some really awkward slash fan fiction that inevitably makes its way into the main series for some reason, but that’s how video games roll.

        • Simon Jones

           There was a brief period a couple of years back where it seemed like every fucking game had a dog.

          There were a bunch of think-pieces on those dogs as well.

        • http://warren-peace.blogspot.com/ WarrenPeace

          What was that game from the early 00s where you were some sort of shooting guy with a dog? Dead to Rights? That was enjoyable enough, but the best part was totally just sending your dog to maul guys in the middle of a firefight. I also enjoyed the over-the-top nature of the story and action, but yeah, the dog was what made the game.

        • Simon Jones

           Dead To Rights would be it.

          But I was mostly thinking of the Fable 2 era, where there just seemed to be dogs everywhere and articles about how awesome these dogs are and to hell with dogs.

        • djsubversive

          Barkspawn (the best name for the dog in Dragon Age Origins) and Dogmeat (Fallout 3) were awesome, but I don’t confuse that with narrative depth. 

          Dogmentation from DX:HR, though? Fuckin’ brilliant.

        • KidvanDanzig

          If Fable taught us anything, it’s that an in-game dog is a route to pathos for a lot of gamers that requires very little development effort. You just have to make it look and sound like a dog. Not even that, in some cases. Movies do the same thing but have the benefit of using real dogs (unless they’re CG, I guess).

          The sister pathos shortcut of the dog is the human child, but uncanny valley problems and the fact that not a lot of people like spending time with kids, real or imagined, has prevented them from being a staple of manipulative game plots. 

      • HobbesMkii

        Uggh, no Alan Wake 2? This is worse than hearing Max Payne 3 was going to be a Rockstar-only production set in Brazil.

        • KidvanDanzig

          Maybe they realized late-period Stephen King is not the best bag to take all your tricks from for more than a single game.

    • Aurora Boreanaz

      Any game with “Gotham” in the title that doesn’t involve Batman holds no interest for me.

      • GaryX

        Too bad Batman games can’t have that title.
        It’s increasingly hilarious to me that they’re going to have to stick with the name Arkham for that franchise even though it makes less and less sense.

        • Aurora Boreanaz

          Batman: Arhkam Sir Not Appearing In This Game

      • ferrarimanf355

        Give Project Gotham Racing 4 a try. You won’t regret it.

    • fly

      they didn’t forget it, just spent as much time on it as the xbone reveal did. 

  • His_Space_Holiness

    Peyton. Don’t name kids Peyton. Especially girls. The Mannings can get away with it only because they’re a family composed entirely of quarterbacks, so unless you’re throwing a touchdown right now, don’t name your kids Peyton.

    This message brought to you by The Foundation To Make Middle School Remotely Livable.

    • PaganPoet

      Also, Skyler. And Madison. And other boojee unisex names. Stop it.

    • DrFlimFlam

      I am going to have six kids, three of each sex, and name them some variation of Aiden. Brayden, Jaden, Kaiden (Alenko), Maiden (Manhattan), Zaden, and maybe Haydn. Pronounces Hayden to drive people insane.

      Not really. Just one with his regular name that was popular back in the day and isn’t now.

      • djsubversive

        Funny gaming-related story (because outdoors? other people that I don’t already know? no thank you). I’m running an Old Republic Star Wars game for my tabletop group. Three of the players made human characters (a Jedi, a Scoundrel, and a Soldier) and independently came up with the names Jaren, Garen, and Barin (all pronounced like “Aaron” with different letters at the beginning). They didn’t discuss this before, and when everybody did character descriptions/introductions, we all had a good laugh. 

        Now it’s become a Thing. They named their medical droid RN-4, and their newest Jedi-who’s-losing-faith-in-the-Order is named Tethys, but they’ve nicknamed her Karen (she’s a Miraluka, basically a human with no eyes, so she wears hoods and blindfolds and stuff).

        I was considering making an NPC following the naming convention and seeing how long it takes them to either recruit them or decide “oh, this fucker’s gotta die. can’t have any more -aren’s running around.”

    • Effigy_Power

      Can’t go wrong with Pat.

  • The_Helmaroc_King

    Oh, Sam, you’re such a card.

    I remember in the first Modern Warfare, playing as the dying American soldier after the helicopter crash. It felt novel for the time, and it was a refreshing change of pace that helped cement the tone of the game.

    I also remember them killing the player character no less than two or three times in the immediate sequel. Come on, guys! It’s not a party trick.

    • Sam_Barsanti

      The first Modern Warfare had a lot of cool and creative ideas in the campaign, but all of the sequels just kept ripping off the same ideas. I played all of ‘em, and I’ll probably play this one, but ehhhhh. 

      • The_Helmaroc_King

        I don’t remember them killing the player in the third one, so maybe they backed off of that trick by then, but it was pretty crazy regardless.

        The most ridiculous death in the second one was probably the astronaut. For anyone who hasn’t played the game: yes, really.

        • caspiancomic

           Man, that was totally an astronaut. You were not kidding.

        • NakedSnake

          SPOILER You play as the dog and watch the main character die.

        • GaryX

           @baneofpigs:disqus Ah, so it’s basically SHIX then.

      • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

        Hey, in this one, you have next-gen fish technology to look forward to!

    • Simon Jones

      Modern Warfare is one of those game series we’re not allowed to like anymore, even when they do something innovative or clever that we will go on to praise in other games when they regurgitate the exact same idea.

      They’re not my cup of tea but holy shit are some of the criticisms of them really stupid.

      • Citric

        Well to be fair, some of us never liked them – alright I only played the first Modern Warfare, that was enough.

        I don’t like any games where it feels like I’m in the way of their precious scripted content, and that was definitely my overriding impression of MW.

      • Professor_Cuntburglar

         That’s because that aren’t very good.

      • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

        Yeah the hate hard-on the internet has for these games is pretty ridiculous. Sure it’s michael bay-esque entertainment, but that kind of fluff entertainment works way better in videogames (imo), so whatever. 

        The conversations around Battlefield vs CoD are especially hilarious/awful.

        • Canadian gamer

          COD games are the gaming equivalent of Justin Bieber in music: no comment thread is complete without a gratuitous reference to them. On Youtube and IGN, at least, that is, on the best commenting communities on the web. 

        • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

          @canadiangamer:disqus: the cod series was a very good series i to an extent agree with you

        • Enkidum

          Woah there Hitler.

        • KidvanDanzig

          I’ll say this for CoD: It’s manna from heaven for anyone who really missed Quake’s color palette.

    • Afghamistam

      I was outraged. Because one of the guys was British and I enjoyed hearing his British voice.

      But then I remembered that it was the guy from the previous game that they brought back from the dead, so it didn’t outrage me as much.

  • RyanTheBold

    I hope one of this console’s features is an advanced warning version of its red ring of death, so I can plan ahead and get GTA5 for the PS4.

  • duwease

    I’m starting to feel guilty for never playing Alan Wake.  I’m one of the few (in the larger market) people who likes story videogames, and I totally spaced on supporting a major one!  This is why I can’t have nice things..

    • Sam_Barsanti

      It was dirt cheap everywhere last week. $5 on Xbox Live and part of a Humble Bundle on PC. I think those are all done now, though, so I don’t know why I’m telling you….

      But yeah, AW is great. 

    • GaryX

      It’s cool, but sort of never really fulfills it’s promise. Probably doesn’t help that I jokingly guessed the ending to my brother–who had played the whole thing–and he just like “Uh, yeah, that’s actually basically what happens.”

    • zerocrates

      Alan Wake’s actually currently the Humble Weekly Sale game, any payment of a dollar or more gets you the games on Steam plus the DRM-free versions.

      • Citric

        Is it weird that in spite of my computer not being man enough to run it at the moment, I’m considering buying it anyway? Anyone want to send me a new computer? 

        • http://i821.photobucket.com/albums/zz132/toemali/stuff/bosun.jpg Colliewest

          I’ve owned it on the xbox for at least a year, never played it, don’t have a computer that will run it and I still gave them a dollar. For the extras, I suppose?

    • STOP_RIGHT_THERE_CRIMINAL_SCUM

      the gameplay can get repetitive, but it’s one of the most interesting stories to come out of games in the last couple of years  

    • KidvanDanzig

      I hope you like bloat

  • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

    “The Xbox One is supposed to launch later this year, and hopefully we’ll know more about it by then.”

    I nearly did a spit-take when I read this. That is some grade-A O’Neal-level snark there.

    • zerocrates

      I believe this strategy is now called The Pelosi.

  • GaryX

    What we know: I won’t buy one.
    What we don’t know: why is anyone going to buy one.

    • Professor_Cuntburglar

       Because video game nerds are unnecessarily loyal to brands and franchises?

      • GaryX

        Because video game nerds mankind [is] unnecessarily loyal to brands and franchises.

      • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

        This is one of those truths that is just annoys me to my fucking core. Goddamn it nerds, quit being so fucking spineless. No, you DON’T need to buy every hot new release by preordering it and going to the midnight release. Fuck. It’s really not hard to just not buy anti-consumer stuff.

        • The Otter White Meat

          Ooo, that reminds me; I need to pre-order my line reservation for the midnight release.

        • ProfFarnsworth

          Oh…then you shouldn’t see this: http://www.theonion.com/video/sony-releases-new-stupid-piece-of-shit-that-doesnt,14309/

    • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

      Because Halo.

  • Fluka

    Call of Doggy prediction:

    Not only does the dog die, but you’re forced to put down the dog.

    Call of Duty: Old Yeller edition.

    • GaryX

      The dog dies at a pivotal point in the plot, deeply affecting the main character, but…

      SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER

      at the end of the game, Janus is revealed to be Mr. Barkington who is behind the whole thing in order to create a new Dog State.

      Call of Duty: Goldeneye

      • https://www.thegamecrafter.com/designers/xyvir-games Xyvir

        Hey, to all you video game bigwig execs who lurk on the comment sections of video game journalism sites to get a feel for your consumer base: Put this man in charge of the story of the next CoD game. Now.

    • PaganPoet

      Fluka why are you doing this to me

      • Fluka

        Better to soften the blow now…

    • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

      I wonder how they trained the doggy to mocap his own death.

      (In all seriousness, that dog mocap looks pretty nifty.)

      • OldeFortran77

        For the wargs in The Hobbit, they covered Alsatian dogs in lycra and mo-capped them. That must have been a lot of fun for everyone involved.

    • Simon Jones

       Oh, you will kill that dog.

      It’s not even as if it’s in doubt.

      It’ll be hurt and make little mewling hurt sounds and you will have to kill it.

      Or possibly just leave it to make little mewling hurt sounds that slowly fade away as you walk off.

      • Effigy_Power

        And it’ll have so many polygons that you will require years of extensive psychotherapy after. Because graphics.

        • Enkidum

          POLYGONS!!!

    • mizerock

      You will have to strap explosives to Mr. Barkington and send him into the enemy encampment. It’s the only way to save the world. He gives you a little salute as he trots away.

    • caspiancomic

       Call of Doggy prediction: DLC alternate animal companions.

      Chimpanzee with a Kalashnikov
      St. Bernard with like a medkit instead of that little barrel
      Grenade cat
      Tactical airstrike owls
      Turtle with rollerskates instead of the RC-XD

      Just spitballing ideas here. Only like 40% joking.

      • Bakken Hood

        Bat with flamethrower…oh right, they’re not doing WWII anymore.

      • The_Misanthrope

         Metal Slug 3 has a monkey with an Uzi!

        http://metalslug.wikia.com/wiki/Utan

      • djsubversive

        I stopped at Chimpanzee with a Kalashnikov because I doubt you’d be able to top that. fuck yeah.

    • alguien_comenta

      Will the dog be a psychic? Can you choose between him and some floozy?

  • zerocrates

    A later Polygon article makes it sound like the used game system is closer to an automatic version of the CD keys of yore: giving the disc to someone else will result in that new system being authorized to play the game, and the old system will be simultaneously de-authorized, unless/until you go get the disc back and do the same thing in reverse. 

    There wouldn’t be an associated fee, a person who gave away, sold, or returned a game would just be left with an inert, unusable copy of the game files on their system once the next person down the line started to use it.

    That’s actually a fairly reasonable-sounding way of dealing with the combination of not needing the disc to play but still doing physical distribution.Still, that system would need the consoles to be checking up with Microsoft regularly (maybe whenever you start the game?) to make sure they’re still authorized, so that much sounds the same, and there’s an awful lot of “sources familiar with the system” handwaving in the article.

    • DrKumAndGo

      What you describe sounds like the best we can hope for from microsoft, i.e. only moderately more confusing and cumbersome than the current system.

      This is sort of how Microsoft deals upgrades with all of its products,  isn’t it?

    • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp Unexpected Dave

      That would be a perfectly reasonable thing to do, and it should wean players off of retail games.

    • Bakken Hood

      If it was that innocuous, they’d have said so already, in plain English.

  • Ralphie_in_Vegas

    I tried to watch the “unveiling” but it immediately became  clear that they were going to pad it out with a lot of nonsense no one cared about.  (“Who’s ready for the next generation of entertainment?  Let’s ask 65 strangers before we show you!!!!”  Ugh.)

    I’ve been an xbox guy for the last two generations of console, but this just seems bad.

    • Sleverin

       TVTVTVTVTVTVTVTVTVTVTVTVCANYOUSAYTELEVISIONTVTVTVTVTVTVSPORTSSPORTSSPORTSSPORTSSPORTSCALLOFDUTYHASADOGCALLOFDUTYCALLOFDUTY

      XBOX GO HOME

  • zerocrates

    Cheap games news: the new Humble Bundle started today: it’s Little Inferno, Awesomenauts, Capsized, Thomas Was Alone, and Dear Esther, with Hotline Miami and Proteus as the “beat-the-average” games.

    • HobbesMkii

      I plan on beating the average, so if someone would like a Hotline Miami key, hit me up on Steam.

      • http://twitter.com/MikoSquiz Miko the Squiz

        And trust me, people: You want a Hotline Miami key.

  • Liebheart

    This gif sums up everyone’s reaction pretty well.

    • STOP_RIGHT_THERE_CRIMINAL_SCUM

      I knew what that was gonna be even before clicking on it 

    • Sleverin

       I love that gif, I’ve been showing it to whoever I can when we talk about the new xbox.

  • HobbesMkii

    Crusader Kings 2: The Old Gods is out today! Hooray! Crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentation of their women!

  • https://www.thegamecrafter.com/designers/xyvir-games Xyvir

    After reading this article I will forever and exclusively refer to this system as the XBONE.

    • Sam_Barsanti

      Then I have done my job!

    • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

      See, when people write XBONE, it makes me think of the crossbone, which is a skateboarding trick. This makes me want to go and play some Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3. Then I realize that there are no digital-download versions of that game available. Then I get sad.

      • djsubversive

        I bet you can get SKATE, which is a much better skateboarding videogame series.

  • Chuck Spear

    As someone smarter than me pointed out, sarcastically, Call of Duty got a playable dog character before it got any playable women characters.

    • STOP_RIGHT_THERE_CRIMINAL_SCUM

      eh, to be fair, how many female special forces soldiers do you know? GI Jane was just a movie 

      • Professor_Cuntburglar

         Yes, realism is very important to the Call of Duty franchise.

        *drives snowmobile off ramp as enemy base explodes behind him. The explosions are fireworks and form the American flag.”

  • cookingwithcranston

    I had a B&O compact disc player back in ’86 that looked a lot like the Xbox One

    • Effigy_Power

      It does look like Bang and Olufsen stuff… I knew it looked familiar.

  • STOP_RIGHT_THERE_CRIMINAL_SCUM

    the ONLY thing that interests me about the Xbox One is Quantum Break, since I’m a big Remedy fan (love Max Payne, love Alan Wake) 

    it’s gonna be a bummer if I have to miss out on their latest game, but I can’t justify buying a whole console for just one game (and at least it isn’t Alan Wake 2, meaning that if it does ever happen it might not be exclusive to the Xbone)

    chances are Quantum Break is gonna be exclusive to the Xbone, what with all that “TV show” business

    • djsubversive

      I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks of this Nuka Break when I hear “Quantum Break.”

      Maybe I am.

  • Lord Autumn-Bottom

    Sam Lake, Alan Wake, Quantum Break, Shake ‘n’ Bake.

    Anyway, Microsoft seems to not be very good at stuff.

  • Halloween_Jack

    They lost me at the whole “The Kinect will always need to be connected to the XBone, and will basically always be on, which we’re justifying by promoting the notion that activating the ‘Bone by voice is so much more convenient than picking up a controller and pressing a button.” Not only will you volunteer to have a telescreen installed in your home, but you’ll pay Big Brother for the privilege.

    • KidvanDanzig

      Depends on whether it will require things like mocap. Otherwise there’s no reason why you couldn’t just cover the camera with electrical tape or w/e

      • Halloween_Jack

        Don’t forget the microphone. Not to mention the real point, which is that there’s no particular reason to require that this accessory be plugged in and active at all times, save that MS wants to gather some data about the people that use its product (possibly even when they’re not actually using the product). I actually like Kinect, as it is now, and think that it’s a generally good idea to have at least some games that require physical movement, but that’s with the assumption that I can walk around naked in my own apartment or make out with someone on my couch without having to throw a tea towel over the thing first. 

        There is no valid reason to have an always-on Kinect, and they’re gambling that a combo of XBone exclusives and general ignorance of the privacy implications of this gadget will let them get away with it, and I’m sincerely hoping that it’s a gamble that they’ll lose.