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Sunday, September 26, 2021

The Aggie Arcade

Xbox Reveal Wish List

On May 21, Microsoft will reveal the successor to the Xbox 360. Rumored names for the upcoming console include Xbox Fusion, Xbox 720, and simply Xbox — not to be confused with Microsoft’s first console (but let’s be honest, that’s pretty damn confusing). For the purposes of this article I’ll use the console’s codename: Durango.

Sony impressed a lot of people with its PlayStation 4 reveal event back in February, and though I often find myself critical of Microsoft, I would love for the company to follow suit. Two successful next-gen consoles mean more gaming time for me and millions of other players. At the end of the day, I have no allegiances — I’m simply a fan of the industry.

There are some specific things I’d like Microsoft to focus on during next week’s conference though, if it plans to sway me. So here is a short wish list for the big event:

Games, Games, and More Games
One of the main reasons why Sony’s PS4 press conference played so well with audiences was because it focused on actual video games. I understand that Sony and Microsoft want to rule the multimedia world, but these are called video game consoles for a reason.

Microsoft will probably allude to services such as Netflix and YouTube during its press conference, but the company needs to focus on games just like Sony did. This means trailers, gameplay demos and anything else that will immediately grab the audience’s attention.

Unfortunately, Microsoft has shifted away from platform exclusives over the course of the 360’s life cycle, so the games with the biggest impact will likely find their way onto the PS4 as well (e.g. Call of Duty: Ghosts). Perhaps Microsoft saves a surprise or two for the attendees and viewers — a new platform exclusive that does not contain the words “Halo” or “Gears of War” in the title.

Always On … with a Twist
One of the biggest sources of controversy among preliminary reports/rumors on the Durango is the fact that it will require a constant internet connection. This raises legitimate concerns about playability when a user’s connection is down or if Microsoft has to shut down servers for maintenance.

The always-on dynamic is all but confirmed at this point, so Microsoft needs to come out and stress how that will not affect gameplay experiences. I think the best solution involves shifting the responsibility to developers. If a developer feels the always-on requirement positively impacts its game, then that company makes the final decision.

This also allows studios the freedom to neglect the feature, namely for single-player experiences. I still don’t quite understand why any game focused on single-player game modes would ever need an internet connection. It creates needless barriers that only work to frustrate gamers. Microsoft doesn’t have to do a whole lot of research to understand that.

Less Kinect, More Durango
Let’s get this out of the way — I hate the Kinect. I think it’s a silly device that adds nothing to gameplay experiences and makes people look stupid on camera (though that makes for some good YouTube videos). So yeah, I admit bias when it comes to the subject.

But Microsoft supports it and I guess enough people buy it, so expect an appearance during Microsoft’s press conference. That appearance needs to be brief though, if the past is any indication. I recall E3 a year or two ago in which Microsoft went on and on about the Kinect and its family-focused titles, much to the dismay of the audience.

Instead, Microsoft needs to emphasize the whole point of the event: the Durango. The Kinect may be an important companion piece to the upcoming console, but it’s just that, a companion piece.

ANTHONY LABELLA can be reached at arts@theaggie.org.

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