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Everything you need to know about the Xbox One

2:00 PM on 11.04.2013 // Steven Hansen

Xbone up

Microsoft's new console, the Xbox One, comes out in North American on November 22. That's soon! It will cost $500. That's fair chunk of money! I think it's time we Xbone up on the Xbox One with everything we know about it thus far.

Here's your first factoid. Not everyone at Microsoft appreciates the nickname "Xbone," but Microsoft's Phil Spencer has admitted, "I think it's going to stick." In a move Microsoft likely appreciates even less, parents will hopefully still just call it "a Nintendo."

The Xbox One will launch November 22, 2013 in 13 world markets: Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, United Kingdom, and USA.
It will retail for $499 in North America, £429 in the U.K. and €499 in Europe.

Markets that were previously slated to see the console launch on the same date -- Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and Switzerland -- can expect it in 2014. So too can Japan, though an exact date and pricing are not available. The Xbox One is North America and Europe-centric.

Well, this Xbox One unboxing video will show you exactly what! I'm still going to tell you, though.

  • Xbox One videogame console (it's looks like a VCR! Such nostalgia!)
  • Kinect 2.0 (More on this later!)
  • An HDMI cable (for plugging the Xbox One into your television in HD!)
  • An Xbox One controller (It's really nice!)
  • A mono headset (Your current headsets won't work until 2014!)
  • A box (You can wear it on your head or let a cat sit in it!)

The Xbox One comes with a 500gb hard drive (and 8gb flash memory), which you'll need. Games like Battlefield 4 and Call of Duty: Ghosts are about 40gb and 50gb in size, respectively, and the Xbox One requires you to install games to the hard drive -- even if you have the game on disc. Note that the Xbox One hard drive is not easily replaceable and currently the console does not support external hard drives for storing data.

Xbox One discs are able to hold that much data, versus the Xbox 360, which sometimes required games to span multiple discs, because the Xbox One has a blu-ray drive. You will be able to watch blu-ray disc films on the console. 

The console is riddled with ports, too, including HDMI in/out ports, S/PDIF, a new Kinect sensor port, three USB 3.0 ports, and both Wired and Wireless (A/B/G/N dual-band 2.4 and 5ghz frequencies) networking. The latter means that, unlike with the 360, the Xbox One can pick up wifi without a separate, pricey wireless adapter.

Want harder details? The One has 8gb of DDR3 RAM (3gb reserved for the operating system) and 32mb of embedded eSRAM. It sports an 8-Core x86 AMD CPU. 

One of Microsoft's strong selling points with the Xbox One is an upgraded version of the Kinect, which originally was an Xbox 360 add-on that allowed for motion-based gaming without a controller. This enhanced Kinect works at an improved minimum distance of 4.5 feet (rather than requiring you to be 6 to 8 feet away) and has a 1080p, HD camera in addition to its four microphones, allowing for high quality video calling via Skype.

You can have Skype running in the background no matter what you're doing, be it playing a game or watching a movie.

Beyond games that use the Kinect in certain ways, like Dance Central, the camera has a number of different features. You can use it to turn the Xbox One on with just your voice and it can translate speech to text. It can distinguish between different voices in a room and has facial recognition abilities; for example, some games will be able to assess your facial expressions to infer emotion.

Of course, this has opened up privacy concerns, which Microsoft has addressed in the Kinect portion of its privacy policy.

Thankfully, the Kinect no longer has to be on for the Xbox One to function (though it has to be on for any Kinect functionality). The Kinect can also be used as a microphone to chat with friends online if you would rather use it over the packed in headset.

A mono headset is packed in with all Xbox One consoles. It can be used to chat with friends online in lieu of the Kinect. Should you want another, it is on the Microsoft Store (and elsewhere) for $25.

The console will not support third party headsets (or any Xbox 360 headsets) until 2014 and even then it will require an adapter built by Microsoft. Hopefully it will allow your current headsets to work with the Xbox One as well as any newly produced third-party headsets.

Voice chat on the Xbox One sounds much better than it did on the 360, too.

The Xbox One controller is generally great, at least in my first-hand experience (it no longer has the world's worst d-pad, as the 360 controller did). There are a few things to be aware of, of course.

Like the 360 controller, the Xbox One controller runs on AA batteries. You can buy a rechargeable battery pack from Microsoft (or elsewhere, like Amazon) for $25 or you can buy one bundled with a controller for $75. The controller is $60 on its own, so you would be saving $10 on the battery pack.

You can also wire the controller to the console with the packed in USB cord and use it without batteries. Wiring will also reduce input delay for those who need the extra responsiveness.

Up to eight controllers can be paired to the Xbox One, though few developers make games that support more than four players.

Unfortunately, the controller will not work with PCs until some time in 2014, so don't throw out your Xbox 360 controllers yet.

The following games (some are physical, retail releases; some are downloadable only) will be available for Xbox One at launch, November 22. If you own certain games on Xbox 360, you can "upgrade" to the Xbox One versions for an extra $10.

Exclusive to the Xbox One:

The rest:

There's also this big list of games that will be coming to Xbox One after the launch titles. Notable titles include Below (timed exclusive), D4 (exclusive), Dragon Age: Inquisition, Destiny, Final Fantasy XV, Metal Gear Solid V, Quantum Break (exclusive), The Witcher 3, and more.

A paid "Xbox Live Gold" subscription ($60/year) is necessary for access to most of the Xbox One's additional features, including online play, streaming via Netflix, web browsing, Skype, NFL on Xbox, Game DVR, and so on.   

Games that employ free-to-play pricing models on Xbox One generally still require a paid Gold subscription, too. One notable omission is Microsoft's Project Spark, which is said to be truly free-to-play.

Only one Xbox Live account holder needs to pay for a Gold subscription per system for all accounts signed into that system to have access to all the things locked behind Gold's pay wall.

The system will require a day-one update through the internet, though the console no longer has the "always online" requirement introduced at launch.

You can play games as they download. This is the case for disc and digital titles. No word if this works with Forza 5, which needs an update to finish the game at launch.

The Xbox One Game DVR is always recording your last 5 minutes of gameplay (at 720p and 30 fps) in case you do something neat and want to share the footage.

The console also records all Achievement unlocks, which could help Achievement video guides.

You can also broadcast your gameplay to Twitch.TV or watch other live streams.

This is the Xbox One at start up and transitioning seamlessly to the new dashboard interface.

Microsoft features extensive Skype support, as mentioned, because Microsoft owns Skype. Other third-party applications will likely be available, too. It's believed the Xbox One will support Windows 8 apps.

Xbox One games will not be region-locked.

The new Friends List is feed-based, like social media sites such as Twitter, and allows for a "following" function in addition to the ability to add friends.

Sometime next year, you will be able to use your real name instead of a "gamertag" to identify yourself on the console.

All mulitplayer games on Xbox One use dedicated servers for a smoother experience.

The Xbox Entertainment Studios will provide programming such as a live-action Halo series and this soccer reality show.

What are we missing? Let us know in the comments!

Steven Hansen, Features Editor
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Steven watches anime & sports, buys meat out of trucks, dates a Muppet, and is only good at cooking. He stands before you bereft of solace and well on the road to perdition. ('^ω^) more   |   staff directory

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