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Xbox One revealed: OXM's definitive guide to the next generation

A massive 5000 word dissection based on exclusive pre-reveal access

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Taking a leaf from the search engine rulebook, the new Xbox will be able to identify trends in content consumption, and surface media to you appropriately. Via "Smart Match", meanwhile, you'll be able to watch TV or fiddle around with movie applications while waiting for your game to nail down a multiplayer session.

Achievements are a particular focus area. They're now detached from the client of the game in question, which means developers are at liberty to add achievements after release at set intervals, perhaps to reward the kind of playful abuse of the systems that leads to FIFA physics system bungles, or C4 trolling in Battlefield. This will give wayward players an incentive to go back to games six months after release, without the expense of releasing achievements via DLC.

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In terms of more effortful uses for cloud power, much naturally depends on how developers decide to build their games. Gibson can think of a fair few possibilities, however. "There's a lot of transformative things we want to do, such as allow large scale computing systems to move into the cloud - things like artificial intelligence systems - or allow more epic 100-person battles." At their most basic, cloud resources could fill in as dedicated servers for hefty online titles like Battlefield and Call of Duty.

Will it be always online?
Enthusiasm for all this aside, one thing we're eager to hear about is whether we can play Xbox One offline in the event of a connection outage. The answer, thankfully, appears to be yes, though Microsoft has yet to delve into specifics. "So much of the experience is based on things that come from the internet, and obviously I will tell you that if you're not connected, those things will not work," begins Marc Whitten.

"You will not be playing multiplayer, you will not be surfing the web, all those sorts of things. It is built to be a box that is a digital native of the web, it always wants to be connected, it always wants to be up to date, so you can get these great experiences. That said, we understand how the internet and the world works, and the box will operate with movies, TV, Blu-ray or whatever, you can play the single player side of your game while there's an outage." One analogy for the new Xbox is a modern smartphone, we're told - a device that's clearly at its best when hooked up to a network, but not one that's dependent on it.

All that said, Xbox One can't go without an internet connection indefinitely - according to Microsoft's corporate vice-president Phil Harrison, you'll need to sign in once every 24 hours even when playing a single player game. We're still waiting for final details on this front - it's possible Microsoft hasn't decided exactly how the new Xbox will manage the business of offline play. We're also still waiting for a full explanation as to how Xbox One will handle game trade-ins, given that installed games are locked to a single user (who can then share that game with other users once signed in). Microsoft appears to be working on a system that automatically uninstalls content when you sell off the associated disc - details of the latter are forthcoming soon, hopefully.

Update - In a major turnaround, Microsoft has now completely changed its Xbox One game licensing policies following internet controversy. You'll be able to rent, gift, share and trade in next generation Xbox games exactly as you currently can Xbox 360 games.

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When's it out, and how much will it cost?
Microsoft has confirmed that Xbox One will arrive in November this year. The console will cost £429 in the UK, or $499 in the USA, and will ship with Kinect and a controller as standard.

Interviews and transcription carried out by Jon Hicks.

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