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Everything You Should Know About Next-Gen Gaming

Eric Parra |
June 8, 2013 | 8:16 p.m. PDT

Tech Editor

Each system has its own unique controller and rundown (image from IGN)
Each system has its own unique controller and rundown (image from IGN)

The past few weeks have been an onslaught of information towards the next generation of gaming and home entertainment, and with mere days before the E3 and even more news and insight approaching, there’s no better time to go over everything that’s been discussed. 

 

 

 

 

WII U

While the Wii U has already kick-started the entirety of the “Next-Gen Wars” it’s a difficult console to weigh in next to the Playstation 4 and Xbox One. The specs are closer to the previous gen with the PS3 and 360, and just as well, the majority of games released are really just ported sequels to older games for the aforementioned consoles. 

SEE ALSO: A Buyer’s Guide To Wii U 

The big news for the Wii U is that most retailers have recently begun to recall the “Basic Bundles,” a cheaper model with only 8GB as opposed to the more premium 32GB model. Whether or not this means that the Basic will be off the shelves for good, or if they’ll be replaced by something else has yet to be revealed, but time will eventually tell.

 

XBOX ONE


Short for the Xbox “All-in-One” the console has been met with varied reception since its initial announcement. To most gamers, this is largely due to the handling of Microsoft PR, which has been inconsistent and contradictory from all types of sources, official or otherwise. With that being said, it’d be easiest to just list everything that is currently confirmed. 

The Xbox One Specs (Microsoft)
The Xbox One Specs (Microsoft)

The most emphasized detail so far is that Xbox One will be capable of providing entertainment unlike ever before, intentionally meant to replace all other entertainment devices. The new functions will rely heavily on Cloud computing, providing online interaction so that you can see what your friends are up to and talk to them through Skype while accessing any other features on their system such as movies or TV shows and games. You’ll also be able to control your Xbox through audio recognition, changing to recognizable channels and switching back and forth between games and shows without any pause or delay, which can be useful to kill time while a game is loading, installing, or if a player is waiting in a lobby for an online match.

As for watching TV, whether or not this means Microsoft will make deals with certain cable companies or consumers wasn’t addressed, but there should be answers for that closer to its release date.

SEE ALSOXbox One Impressions 

There were rumors that the new Xbox would need a 24 hour internet connection in order to run and play games, but executives from Microsoft explained that this was both true and not true. How it should work for now is that yes, the Xbox will need to connect to the internet, but no it will not need to be connected for 24 hours. If you have a primary console, you will need to connect ONCE every 24 hours, but on any secondary console (like if you sign into your account on a friend’s system) you will have to log on to the internet once every HOUR.  

On the other hand, some games will require a constant connection to the internet in order to access features like Cloud gaming, but Microsoft isn’t taking responsibility for those calls. 

So in essence, if you have no internet, then you can’t game with the Xbox One. Watching Blu-Rays and TV are exempt from this restriction, however, so you should be still be entertained. Theoretically. 

In an official statement from Microsoft: 

"While a persistent connection is not required, Xbox One is designed to verify if system, application or game updates are needed and to see if you have acquired new games, or resold, traded in, or given your game to a friend. Games that are designed to take advantage of the cloud may require a connection." 

The Xbox One controller design (Microsoft)
The Xbox One controller design (Microsoft)
Now when it comes to playing games, any game you purchase will be electronically registered to your personal system and account. Whether you buy a copy that’s physical or digital, only you can play it on your account. That being said, if you lend a friend a copy of your disc, they would still be able to play it themselves, but only on your account. Hence the reason for a persistent internet connection, it constantly registers any new games that you own and that are being played.

Summarized nicely in a Eurogamer interview with Phil Harrison 

"I can come to your house and I can put the disc into your machine and I can sign in as me and we can play the game. The bits are on your hard drive. At the end of the play session, when I take my disc home - or even if I leave it with you - if you want to continue to play that game [on your profile] then you have to pay for it. The bits are already on your hard drive, so it's just a question of going to our [online] store and buying the game, and then it's instantly available to play. The bits that are on the disc, I can give to anybody else, but if we both want to play it at the same time, we both have to own it. That's no different to how discs operate today."

On the flipside, while you can’t really lend your friends your games, you can GIVE your games for them to own and install on to their system, but this transfer is limited to one use per game AND you also have to have been Xbox Live friends with that person for at least 30 days. Basically, this means that your friend gets to keep your game and you can’t have it back, so be careful who you trade with (hence 30 days of friendship, in case it wasn’t complicated enough).

None of these features, as well as any renting features like gamefly, will work on launch.

Just a bit more information regarding the new kinect, which will be packaged along with the system: It can not be turned off so long as the system is on, but you can pause it’s recording if you don’t need it. The microphone, however, will always remain on, but Microsoft has claimed that they are not planning on using or uploading any information you may let slip, just in case you were wondering.

They also want people to know that they reserve the right to change any and all of these policies as time goes on. So basically, don’t hold on to tightly to these details.

 

THE PLAYSTATION 4

Only the slightest images have been revealed on what the PS4 will look like come this holiday.
Only the slightest images have been revealed on what the PS4 will look like come this holiday.
A much less original, albeit a safer name, the PS4 announced everything they felt was needed for their press conference with only a few more minor details released in the meantime. And here’s what we know so far:

It will also revolve around the Cloud, meaning more internet social interaction, but also that older Playstation games can be played as well, just not through physical copies. More on this will probably be disclosed closer to the release, but unfortunately PS3 and PSN data will not transfer.

The system will also track your downloads on online interaction through the Cloud, which will culminate in the ability to automatically predict software based on a players gaming habits and then download whatever the system feels will help enhance the playing experience. Something along the line of Pandora’s internet radio and Netflix’s suggestions, but whether this will be useful or weirdly annoying will be left up to you.

SEE ALSO: Sony Kickstarts The Next Gen 

It will have an updated Blu-Ray video drive and handle 4K video output, although the 4K has already been confirmed to not be used for gaming. That being said, there has been a lot of gameplay footage already released at a higher resolution and frame-rate than current gen gaming while Sony officials have claimed that the hardware will be easy enough for game developers to figure out and work with, so there should be a good balance there.

The new Dualshock 4 controller will have a touchpad on the front and should work like the touchpad on the back of the PS Vita, supposedly influencing game play, as well as a share button that lets you upload footage to your friends or social media.

The new Dualshock 4 controller (Sony)
The new Dualshock 4 controller (Sony)

Like the Xbox Kinect with the Xbox One, the Playstation Eye and Move will play a large role with the PS4. The updated technology should be able to cut out the image of a player from the background or differentiate between players in the background and foreground which should come in handy with motion controls. The Playstation move will also work around this and both should be able to sync up with the new light bar on the controller.

The interface will be completely different from the current Playstaton home screen, looking more like Xbox’s menus that allow instant switching between windows, games, and other features. And this brings up another feature: Sleep mode. Similar to a feature that Sony’s PSP and PS Vita have used (as well as each iteration of the Nintendo DS), this mode allows you to turn your game off and then later back on right where you left it, allowing you to take a long break from gaming without having to quit and start playing from the beginning of wherever you last saved.

And while there hasn’t been much said on the matter, SCE World Wide Studios President Shuhei Yoshida told Game Informer that the Playstation 4 will be usable offline. “Oh yes, yes, you can go offline totally,” Yoshida said.  “Social is big for us, but we understand there are some people who are anti-social! So if you don't want to connect to anyone else, you can do that." There were also some obscure references that used games would still be possible with the system, but again, not much more information has been divulged.

 

CONCLUSION

To sum everything up, there’s still a lot of information that needs to come out before anyone knows anything about the next gen. At a first glance, the Playstation 4 has the most prospect, but that’s really just because Microsoft revealed too much half-baked information at the wrong time from the wrong sources.

In reality, the Xbox One probably won't be all that different from the Playstation 4 once it comes out, and as each company reveals more information, the two will likely look even more similar.

The Wii U, on the other hand, is not in the best shape as it stands and definitely not on par with the future of gaming. A lot can happen before the holiday season, though. If more games can come out and the hype that Nintendo has been looking for since their early launch last year manages to return with some unexpected announcement that they're known for, then there still might be a place for gamers to get what they want after all. 

 

Make sure to check back in the next few days as Neon Tommy provides you first-hand coverage of this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo, E3.

 

Reach Tech Editor Eric Parra here or follow him on Twitter.



 

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