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Xbox One Preview: 9 Reasons To Get Excited About Microsoft's Next-Gen Console (VIDEO) (PICTURES)

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There's a next generation of gaming consoles coming - and soon. The PS4 is set to be released on 29 November in the UK - and the Xbox One will hit around that date too.

But while hardcore gamers already appear to know every inch of the new machines, it still feels as though 90% of their potential market are waiting to be convinced that they should get excited - let alone pay £399 to get access to the potential on day one.

We've just spent a few days at Gamescom in Cologne, Germany, trying to figure out what the key features, experiences and games for this next generation really are. And we don't just want to get excited any more - we genuinely are.

Here's what we think are the 9 best reasons to get pumped-up about the Xbox One. Stay tuned for our PS4 edition, coming later this week.

xbox one

1. Kinect 2

Lots has been written about the tech specs of the new Xbox, and why they are, or aren't, that exciting. But we think the Xbox One's killer technical feature has been relatively underplayed. Because where the original Kinect was a neat toy, the new one is something else entirely - a vastly superior technical achievement, and potentially a far-more-important device to have in front of your TV.

It's three times as sensitive. It can see in a pitch black room with IR, can monitor six people at once and recognise joints as intricate as your fingers, and how your weight is distributed. It can tell if you throw a hard punch or a soft one, can recognise who you are and who's speaking or holding the controller. The cameras are 1080P, it's integrated more closely into familiar games (rather than requiring all-new titles) and - most important - it works. It's accurate, reliable and consistent. And some of the practical implementation we've seen is simply brilliant. Yes, developers (and Microsoft) have to deliver a great experience on Day One. But if it fulfils its potential, Kinect really could be a transformative living room gadget after all.

2. Forza Motorsport 5

We came to our demo of Microsoft's exclusive new racer with a sceptical eye - how different could it be? Turns out - especially if you're into tyre modelling, distributed cloud calculations and hyper-impressive graphics - a lot. Check out this interview with Dan Greenawalt for more insight:

3: Project Spark

Microsoft's new make-your-own game-engine is like Minecraft meets Construct 2, via Disney Infinity. It's also shaping up to be a genuinely exciting tool for creating, sharing and experimenting with making games and other digital content. With its palette of in-world editors, terrain creation tools and smartglass/Windows 8 cross-platform publishing, it looks to find a sweet-spot between ensuring accessibility for young creators, while allowing for complex creations to shine. As has already been shown, it's possible to make first-person games, 2D platformers, top-down shooters and third person adventure games with broad-strokes - and then place them on the community platform for others to play, remix and share. The beta starts in January on Xbox One - later this year for Windows - and it has the potential to make the console a really decent content creation tool for novice game makers, and not just a way to consume AAA shooters.

4. Titanfall

EA's upcoming mech/first-person shooter gained a new trailer at Gamescom, and it was ridiculously impressive. In fact it was the best game we saw at the show. This title could make the Xbox One a must buy - that is, if you can't stomach the indignity of playing it on Xbox 360...

5. FIFA 14

Microsoft has now announced that every Xbox One pre-order will come with a free copy of FIFA. And how can that be a bad thing, especially when the game is playing this well - and comes with exclusive content that includes the chance to bring David Seaman back to FIFA?

6. The New Xbox Platform

Much of the actual Xbox One OS is still under wraps, but we managed to get a quick glimpse at some of the new features of the UI - and we came away impressed. The integration with the new Kinect means the system feels more personal than ever before, automatically adjusting based on what you play, what you look for and who you play with. Setting and taking-up in-game challenges looks easier than ever and the lightning-fast shifting from games to TV and back is also mightily impressive - though we're still waiting to see what that looks like for UK users. Everything we've seen suggests this will be a massively more convenient Xbox to have under your living room TV.

7. SmartGlass

Microsoft made a special effort at Gamescom to point out the new uses for its tablet and phone app integration - not just for Surface, but iOS and Android too. Just how well it works varies from game-to-game: Project Spark is totally integrated, whereas the potential applications in Ryse: Son of Rome (arming your character, selecting levels…) look a bit more 'beta' right now. But taken as a whole, the push to get SmartGlass into more games, in more interesting ways, can only be applauded and should give developers opportunities to rethink how the 'second screen' works on new consoles.

8. Dead Rising 3

Hundreds of zombies, on screen at once, running towards you while you're riding a motorcycle equipped with flame-throwers and a steamroller wheel. Take a look:

9. It's Built To Last

For every graphical leap we saw from the Xbox One games at Gamescom, we never felt that any one title was making full use of the new Xbox. And that's a good thing, because it means the machine has potential to grow. The new console is a beast, and it's just starting to show its teeth. We think that's overwhelmingly clear from how Microsoft (and Sony too) have approached the specs. As for its online features, the picture is tricke. The message has shifted in recent months. And time will tell what the interface and platform look like, and how they work, in five years' time. But we're convinced that there is more to come. So yes - get excited. Because as Xbox One matures, so will Microsoft's vision for the system - and the games that emerge to run on it.

Also on The Huffington Post

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