Everybody's heard of it, it's about to be released, but what is the New Xbox Experience (NXE)? I asked myself the exact same question, and so I went searching the web. In the process I decided to write a short blog post with some of the cool features this fall update brings to us.
During the Microsoft press conference at E3 2008, John Schappert unveiled a completely new GUI for the Dashboard. It's a complete revamp of the Dashboard we are used to, and is an important part of the NXE. The new Dashboard will also be built in to the Xbox Guide. Not only will we be able to read and write messages, communicate with friends, see achievements, etc., but we can now launch another game directly from the Xbox Guide. Doesn't matter if we're already playing a game, we just have to bring up the Xbox Guide and launch a new game. The Xbox will automatically close the game we're playing and start the new game we've chosen.
Also, The update adds support for 16x10 widescreen through VGA or HDMI.
We are given the chance, or rather required by Xbox Live, to create our own avatars similar to the Mii on Nintendo Wii. The avatars will be customizable, we can change the avatar's gender, body shape, face, hair, accessory, and clothes. In 2009, Microsoft has planned to launch an Avatar Store that will allow us to purchase additional clothing, and unlocking achievements may give us the opportunity to gain new clothing for our avatars. Although we are still able to use our usual Gamer Picture on your Gamercard, we can use a 2D representation of the avatar's face on our Gamercard. A number of games, either already released or yet to be released, are planned to support the avatars.
In an avatar creation demonstration posted by Major Nelson, we can see towards the end that the avatars also has a set of random emotions bound to the Left Bumper, and the avatar will burp of you click the Right Stick. Also if you spin the avatar around a bit, he or she will get dizzy.
Avatar creation video
&amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;a href="http://video.msn.com/?mkt=en-US&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;playlist=videoByUuids:uuids:af0e0dcd-5cff-43a2-bd32-4841fe6a89d1&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;showPlaylist=true&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;from=msnvideo" target="_new" title="Avatars in the new Xbox experience"&amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;Video: Avatars in the new Xbox experience&amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/a&amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Play via the hard drive
Microsoft will also give us the chance to install our games directly onto our hard drives. This should speed up the loading times of the games we play, and - hopefully - it will silence the noisy DVD-drive. "No DVD required? Wow, I gotta go borrow some games and copy them to my hard drive!" Sounds great, doesn't it? Although, that's not how it will work. With all the anti-piracy measures Microsoft have taken over the years it would be hard to imagine that they would simply let us start copying games that we do not own to our hard drive. No, you see, we are still required to have the DVD of the games we play present in the DVD-drive upon launching the games. Understandably it's a precautious decision, and I have no problems doing that to rid myself of the horrible jet engine noise coming from my Xbox from time to time. It's a win-win situation, really. We're happy, developers are happy, publishers are happy, and Microsoft are happy.
Stream movies and television shows
Along with the new update comes Netflix. The cooperation between Microsoft and Netflix allows gamers to stream movies and television shows directly to their Xbox 360. At the point of release, about 12,000 movies and shows will be available for the public to stream, although this service will only be available to the North Americans with an Xbox Live Gold membership.
We will have the opportunity to create Xbox Live parties with up to 9 persons total. This feature allows us to communicate with them simultaneously, and even start games, watch slideshows or watch Netflix content with them. While in the party, you will stay with them until you decide to leave, so if the party wants to start a game while watching the slideshow, it's possible.
Xbox Live Primetime
Another exciting feature this update was supposed to bring is Xbox Live Primetime, however it had to be postponed. The reason why I'm including the feature in this post, is that I think it's relevant to NXE, and not just the fall update.
Primetime a series of scheduled games that allows gamers to compete against each other -- for real prizes! The concept is basically similar to any game shows, it's a battle between contestants. One of the first announced games is 1 vs 100, featuring Bob Saget as the host. The game concept is fairly simple: One contestant is answering questions vs a group of 100. For each answer the contestant answers correctly, the players among the group that answered incorrectly are eliminated, while the value of the next question increases. If the contestant answers incorrectly, he or she will lose the game, and the prize money is divided between the remaining group members.
Unlike the previous Xbox updates that could be stored on internal memory, this update requires at least 128MB disk space available (why wouldn't you want a 120GB hard drive now that you can install games?). This could naturally be a pain for all the Xbox360 Core/Arcade owners out there, but luckily, our friends at Microsoft came up with two solutions. You can get a 512MB Memory Card for free, or you can get a discounted 20GB hard drive. All you need to do is visit this site, enter your Xbox360 Serial Number and Console ID, and submit to see if your console is eligible for the offers.
When does it arrive?
Good news, everyone! It arrives tomorrow! When you turn on your console and log on to Xbox Live, you will be prompted to download and install the update. The installation process should be fairly simple, and hopefully without any hiccups.
There. I hope I got most of the important features this update brings. Now that I know what the fuzz is about (apart from the revamped GUI), I'm even more excited about it, and I honestly can't wait for tomorrow! Hopefully this also gave you an idea of what NXE really is. Feel free to make a comment on this post if there's anything you would like to point out.