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Xbox One Launch Roundup

Posted Fri, Nov 22, 2013 by Martuk

Last week the PlayStation 4 had its day when it shipped out in NA on Friday, November 15th. This week it’s Microsoft’s turn to debut its Xbox One console. The countdown to the midnight launch is on and you’ll be able to watch a live event broadcast from New York once again hosted by Geoff Keighley on Spike TV starting tonight at 11PM ET. If you happen to be in New York City, you can drop by the event at the Best Buy Theater at 1515 Broadway. Doors open at 9PM ET and the first 1,000 people to buy an Xbox One on-site can enjoy an exclusive VIP concert with Macklemore & Ryan Lewis as well as prizes for the first 2,000 to buy an Xbox One at the event.

The Xbox One launch event will include a fan celebration in Times Square New York complete with zombies, Roman soldiers, and supercars themed after the launch game lineup. Other launch events will also be held around the country as well as in other locations around the world.

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If you’re picking up an Xbox One tonight there are a few things that you need to be aware of, the first of which is the day 1 patch. You’ll need to connect to the Internet and get your new console patched with this before it will do most anything. Essentially, until this patch is installed, your Xbox One is little more than a $500 paperweight. So make sure that you have access to the internet if you want to enjoy any new games online or offline tonight.

If you were hoping for Dolby Digital sound to be part of your Xbox One gaming experience tonight you’re going to be a bit disappointed. Microsoft’s Director of Product Planning Albert Penello confirmed in a Neogaf post (via Polygon) that Dolby Digital will be coming post-launch, but Penello does explain what will be available with tonight’s launch.

“Dolby Digital is coming post launch,” Penello wrote. “This was a SW scheduling issue pure and simple, and I know people are disappointed, but we will have it.

Anyone with an HDMI receiver should be fine, as we pass the uncompressed 5.1 and 7.1 through HDMI as well as DTS. Even if you have a Dolby only HDMI receiver (which I'm not sure exists), you will still get 5.1 or 7.1 sound since those receivers should accept uncompressed surround.

For the Dolby only headsets, my understanding is that these will work but you will only get stereo audio since we only pass Stereo and DTS through the optical port. I have not tested this myself, but I'm told it works. Regardless, I understand this is an inconvenience, but again we're going to have Dolby coming.

This is unrelated to the HDMI-IN "Surround Sound" beta. To clarify, we default HDMI-IN audio to be converted to Stereo. However, we do have a feature you can access in TV settings/Troubleshooting that enables Surround Sound in "beta" form. If you check the box, and you get Surround, you're golden. We found some inconsistencies in STB's during testing and decided to disable it by default to insure a good initial setup experience for people.”

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Gaming gear manufacturer Astro Gaming posted an update on its Facebook page explaining how the change will affect their headsets as well as what players can expect when using their gear on the Xbox One.

“ASTRO Gaming still provides a Dolby® Headphone 7.1 experience on the Xbox One – even from a stereo input.

Microsoft’s decision to drop Dolby® encoding on their SPDIF output at launch does have ramifications for ASTRO’s products. While our products do not process DTS signals, we do have on-board Dolby® encoding in both our A50 Wireless Transmitter as well as our Wired MixAmp™ Pro. An Xbox One gamer will need to select Stereo output for game audio, but our MixAmps will process that stereo signal with Dolby ProLogic II and encode it with Dolby® Headphone – *the* gold standard for simulated 7.1 Surround Sound for gaming headphones.

So have no fear gamers, your ASTRO’s will still provide a Dolby® Digital Surround experience no matter what your console choice.”

Xbox Corporate VP Marc Whitten confirmed on Twitter that the HDMI-In is currently in beta and can be toggled on and off on the console.

While neither console has a launch lineup to get overly excited about (especially with the delay of Watchdogs), most of the launch titles save a few are present on both consoles as well as PC. Microsoft’s Day 1 exclusive games include Dead Rising 3, Fighter Within, Forza 5, Zoo Tycoon, Zumba Fitness, and Ryse: Son of Rome, which has not managed to impress early reviewers, earning ony a meager 61 average on Metacritic, with the Quicktime-like events cited as a tedium in Adam Sessler's stinging 2/5 review.

As for the Xbox One’s Twitch streaming capabilities, that will also come in a post-launch update in the first part of 2014, so don’t expect any console streaming at launch. According to a post on Xbox Wire, users will be able to watch livestreams and earn 10 achievements at launch, but the streaming option will come post-launch to ensure a smooth user experience.

“We know the ability to instantly broadcast gameplay is something the gaming community is excited about, and we are too,” Microsoft writes on the Xbox Wire site. “We are working to ensure the initial Twitch on Xbox One broadcasting experience meets the expectations of the Twitch community, so while this feature won’t be available right away, we’ll let you know as soon as it is ready. Our goal is to deliver it during the first part of 2014.”

Like the PlayStation 4, you’ll need to install your games to play them as well as a subscription to play them online. Luckily, you can play while it downloads, so it’s not all long waits and frustration. And once you're up and running, the Xbox One will support 8-player party chat, so you can jump right in with your friends. And if you want some downtime from games, there's always Xbox One's entertainment options for taking over your living room.

Lastly, if you intend to use Microsoft's controversial Kinect device, you'll be happy to know that Microsoft went on record wit h IGN this week to confirm that the Kinect, in fact, can't see your genitals through clothing. If you're lost on that statement it stems (no pun intended) from a video demoing, ironically, the sophistication and detailed scanning ability of the device. Something that some speculated was a bit too detailed given the video in which the man demoing the tech appeared to have his dimensions a little too-well read, something Microsoft called a crease in his pants (and it does appear to be just that) rather than a full outline of his dangly bits.

"First, if you watch the video you will see that what is being represented here is a fold in the denim," a Microsoft representative told IGN. "There is no tech magic going on here and Kinect cannot see through clothing. Furthermore, the video was an illustration of the various camera views available for the creation of games and apps. This view is only accessible on a development kit and is not viewable on retail consoles."

You have to love new mainstream tech and console launches. It brings out the best of speculation and worse-case scenarios in often hilarious ways.

As for those of you that don't care for the heavy camera that serves little use for gaming, Microsoft changed the requirement to keep the Kinect hooked up at all times for the Xbox One to function earlier this year following a massive backlash from gamers. So now we're back to optional. Well, as optional as you can get while still being forced to buy it if you want the system.

So what’s your console choice this time around? Will you be picking up the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, sticking with your trusty PC, or opting for all three? Tell us below and read more about the new console on the Xbox One website


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