Microsoft is taking the wraps off of its next-gen Xbox at an event tomorrow and will duly end up kicking off a new generation of console war against the likes of Sony’s PlayStation 4. With the event being right around the corner, we believe it’s a great time to take a look at what we can expect from the console.
In terms of specifications, we’ve known for quite some time now that the next-gen Xbox, codenamed the Durango, will use x86 architecture, just like the PlayStation 4. Both consoles are even rumoured to be running on the same AMD-based hardware. This is a major shift away from the Xbox 360, which used the PowerPC architecture. As a result of this shift, the downside is that not many games, if any, will be backwards compatible. The upside is that x86 is easier to develop for, and because of this, we’ll get to see games that are much prettier and stable.
Judging from all the leaks and rumours we’ve seen so far, it also looks like the Durango will have the Kinect pre-installed. This, coupled with some of the patents that Microsoft has been registering earlier that allow the Kinect to detect the number of people in the room and limit content, does end up raising some privacy issues. On the flipside, however, the Durango is also rumoured to come bundled with Microsoft’s fabled Illumiroom concept. Illumiroom basically uses the Kinect along with a regular projector to make a game more immersive, for example, by simulating real snow with the projector when the game being played has a snowy level.
Another concept for the Durango
The Durango will be using a Blu-ray drive this time, mostly because of the fact that Blu-ray discs have a much higher data capacity than any other optical media – although the read-write speeds on Blu-ray are slower. This means that a lot of games that you play will have to be installed on the hard drive before being playable, much like many of the games from the PlayStation 3’s early days.
Although it’s very unlikely that those of us who live in India will have access to it, the Durango is also said to have cable integration. It would essentially replace a set-top box and become the ultimate device when it comes to anything related to a TV. This, along with the fact that many streaming services will be releasing their apps for the Durango, including Netflix, Hulu and SugarDVD, gives hint that the Durango could very easily dominate the market for set-top boxes.
We don’t know much about the Durango on the software front, but we do know that Microsoft being Microsoft, the Durango’s interface will have healthy doses of the Metro UI that we have seen in the company’s other products, such as Windows 8 or Windows Phone. We’ve had Metro UI for quite some time now on the Xbox 360. We do know, however, that the console will have provisions for developers who might want DRM for their games that revolve around connecting to some back-end server to authenticate the game.
Rumoured launch titles for the Durango include the very obvious Call of Duty: Ghosts, which is set to be showcased alongside the next-gen console. Other titles that are rumoured to be launched alongside the console are Ryse and a new Forza game. There are also rumours of a game featuring zombies and a family-oriented casual game set on an island. The last one of these will undoubtedly make heavy use of the Kinect.
Many of the other features that are rumoured to make it to the Durango include things we've already seen before, such as the ability to share videos and a revamped friends' list.
You will be able to check out the Microsoft Xbox event live on Xbox Live.