The ball is squarely in Sony's court now. Microsoft announced at its E3 press conference that the Xbox One will cost $499 in the U.S. and launch this November. Twenty-one other regions will also get it as well. Pre-orders will begin starting today. Europe will get it for 499 Euros, and those of you in the U.K. can buy one for £429.
Microsoft also revealed that 343 Industries is developing the next Halo for launch in 2014. While there was no gameplay footage, a teaser trailer showed Master Chief (!) wearing a ragged cloak: take that for what you will. The game will be the first in the franchise to run at smooth 60 frames per second, and will take advantage of Microsoft's cloud-boosted Xbox Live computing farm.
The new Halo game was only a blip in Microsoft's game-packed press conference. Microsoft spent a ton of time showing off new exclusives including Ryse: Son of Rome, Killer Instinct (oh yes!), Sunset Overdrive, Minecraft: Xbox One Edition, Quantum Break, D4, Project Spark, Crimson Dragon, Dead Rising 3, The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt, Battlefield 4 (launching first on Xbox One), and Titanfall.
Then there was Forza Motorsport 5. As a racing fan, I'm super stoked that the game isn't just about shinier cars and higher polygon counts. Developers Turn 10 are implementing a cool feature called Drivatar in Forza 5 that destroys traditional A.I. and makes driving in-game car opponents more realistic and "human:"
"We suggest you think of your Drivatar as a clone of yourself. It is a replicant, a Driving Avatar made to your very own recipe. You teach it to drive like you do and you can keep on training it until it reaches the dizzy heights of perfection. Well, as perfect as you can make it that is. Drivatars are rather like your own culinary concoctions, they are only as good as you are and whilst you may have followed the recipe from the TV-chef-of-the-moment’s new book to the letter, that Moroccan-lamb-served-on-a-bed-of-organic-rice-and-sunflower-seeds will always have your own unique slant on the theme. Drive erratically, braking and apexing too late and so will your Drivatar. Drive consistently with early braking, fast apexing and fast corner exit and so will your Drivatar. It really is a realistic model of your own driving skills.
Basically, every time you drive, Drivatar learns and then gets smarter based on how you drive. This new dynamic helps make single-player racing more interesting and challenging.
One more thing: Microsoft Points are dead. Dead dead dead. Microsoft is moving to real currency. No more confusing point-to-dollar conversions.
What do you think? Xbox One priced just right? Too expensive? Sound off in the comments below.
(Posted on location at E3 2013 in Los Angeles, California. All photos by Raymond Wong for DVICE.)