The Xbox One: Did MS Screw Up? No. Are We Being Cranky? Yes.

My opinionated review on the Xbox One little under a month of release.

My Review of the Xbox One

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Back in June, during E3, Microsoft revealed a great deal of information about its latest piece of hardware, the Xbox One. Information like needing a to sign into Xbox Live once every 24 hours, must have Kinect 2 connected, no trading-in of physical games, along with its game sharing plans for family members. Boy did this kick up a storm.

People, (I say ‘people’ here because I don’t know how many of these people bought the console), complained, started and signed petitions to remove all these functions to suit them.

So what did Microsoft do?

They listened and removed the need to sign in the Xbox Live, no longer need Kinect 2 to be connected, allowed you to trade-in and buy preownded games, but took out its game sharing functionality. Again, this kicked up a storm. People, (again… people), complained, started and signed petitions to get the original functions back. Why? Due to the fact that Microsoft had gone back on themselves, having the new console labelled the Xbox 180.

Now I have several questions.

Did Microsoft mess up at E3?

No, no they didn’t.

At this point in time, hardware for the Xbox One was still being finalised. They could have come out and said all kinds of stuff about the Xbox One that people didn’t like and they still wouldn’t have messed up. Why? They always had time to make the changes that they needed to with 5 months until launch month.

Did Microsoft listen to their fan base and respond to it?

Yes. Plain and simple.

Microsoft changed software functionality according to the harsh feedback they received after their E3 press conference. They eliminated the need for constant Xbox Live checks. They allowed you to trade-in and buy preownded games as you see fit, but they took out the family game sharing function, which caused people again to complain about it. So what? They took out a function that you wanted but gave you what you asked for. Be grateful. People still ask if game sharing will be available and the answer I see from @majornelson (Larry Hryb, Twitter) is “Yes, just not yet.”

Are people kicking off and causing all this fuss because they don’t like change?

Yes.

console gamers become accustomed to the console they have used

Gaming nowadays is a very popular pastime. I study Applied Computing in University and in my class of 8, 7 of us are avid gamers, and there is a difference between each of us. There is 2 PC gamers, one of which will play on a console, the other wouldn’t as an example. Me? I’m an Xbox gamer. I grew up playing PlayStation One and went straight from that to an Original Xbox. Now I have a Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS1, PS2, PS3, Sega Mega Drive and PC. I will play on the other consoles but when it comes to it, I will choose to play Xbox over any other console, but I will get to that in another article.

Now, PC Gamers are dealing with constant change due to the constant change in hardware releases from new Graphics Cards to Processors. Console gamers don’t experience this constant change. A new generation of consoles come along every 5 or even 10 years, I mean its been 8 years since the launch of the Xbox 360 and 7 since PS3. My point is console gamers become accustomed to the console they have used for the past year, 2 years or however long they have had the console.

Now that the Xbox One has been out for little under a month, I thought it would be a good time to give my take on things. The Xbox One, in a sentence, is an absolutely brilliant machine. Sure, it has its bad points, but what doesn’t. So let’s go from initial impressions.

Set-Up

Setting up my Xbox One was a simple and care free exercise.
  • Plug this into there, plug this here and turn it on.
  • Position Kinect 2 somewhere suitable.
  • Sorted.
  • Turn console on, go through initial set-up and download 500MB mandatory update.

What? 500MB mandatory update? Well yeah, they did have to make changes remember. With a decent enough internet speed, the download would be done within an hour. For someone like me who has 2MB download speed, it took about 4 hours. I’m not complaining. I got mine at midnight and came straight home with it. Was set up and updating by 12:30AM. 4 hours for one update, when everybody else who got a console at midnight was trying to access the same file for the update.

Kudos to Microsoft.

Given previous experiences with launches that required the use of a server/(s) and crashes the following day, (looking at you Call of Duty), I had no issues with 300,000 cloud servers they had available for the users, and I still don’t. Once update was done and installed, it went on to set up my account and download my gamertag. Simply put in your email and password linked to your account and you are away. Your account is downloaded instantly and is there ready to play with. You can set it up to automatically sign you in through the use of Kinect, completely up to you.

User Interface

Moving on to the User Interface.

To begin with, I had a very strong dislike for it as I didn’t like the user interface that came with Windows 8. I got use to the whole Windows 8 tile thing and I actually like it now as you still have your good old trusty desktop available to you, there is just another screen available to you with all your apps and programs.

After a couple of days, the user interface of the Xbox One grew on me and I now navigate the same way I can navigate the Xbox 360 dashboard, like the back of my hand. The Snap feature works very nicely, especially with TV, Netflix or other television applications. It doesn’t take up too much of the screen, but allows you have a film, live stream or just watch TV to the side whilst you play Dead Rising 3 or keep up with what your friends are doing by checking out the Activity Feed.

Games

So let’s talk about the games available.

The games I mention here are all titles released on the day of launch (22nd November). I bought:

  • CoD: Ghosts
  • Dead Rising 3
  • Forza Motorsport 5
  • Zoo Tycoon
  • Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
  • Need For Speed: Rivals
  • and got FIFA 14 free with the Day One version of the console.
FIFA 14

FIFA 14 first since I had played it on Xbox 360 first. There is a massive difference. Maybe not graphical way, but through the use of the new Ignite Engine that EA Sports are using in their 4 sports titles (Madden 25, NBA 2K14, FIFA 14, UFC (not yet released)). I noticed straight away the way the game plays is totally different to how it played on the Xbox 360. The physics of both the ball and player seemed more life like, the stadiums felt alive with crowd chanting and reacting to every action happening on cue.

I never really notice a difference between FIFA games from year to year but I noticed a small difference from FIFA 13 to FIFA 14 on Xbox 360, despite not being able to utilise the new Ignite engine. Stepping up from FIFA 14 Xbox 360 edition to FIFA 14 Xbox One edition however saw the difference that players had been waiting for.

Dead Rising 3

Another game I will talk about here is Dead Rising 3. There are a few short sentences I can say about this game. No loading screens. Immense, immersive environments. Thousands of assets on screen. Brilliant game play. Yeah, about sums it all up right?

The game has such an amazing feel to it, going seamlessly from scene to scene whilst having a horde of 200 plus hungry zombies coming at you, all without the game play quality being compromised. This game, in my opinion, is the best game to come out for the Xbox One and will maintain that title for a long time, probably until the release of TitanFall in March.

Features

Game DVR

Another point I will go into detail about is the Game DVR function. It can record up to a maximum of 5 minutes… so not suitable if you wanted to start up a YouTube channel. Certain games has functions that utilise the DVR to record automatically. FIFA 14 is a culprit of this as it records 30 seconds of gameplay for every diving save, punching the ball out, scoring a goal from distance and the list goes on. Although can be handy from time to time, it gets to be a right pain in the ass because each recording takes up hard drive space and let’s face it, it gets flaming annoying.

Again, this feature can be turned off, but it turns off the whole DVR function so even saying ‘Xbox record that’ wouldn’t record clips of you getting a 360 no scope headshot on CoD.

Accessories

Kinect 2

A final section on accessories, so Kinect 2 and the controller. I’ll start with Kinect 2. IT WORKS! Unlike the original Kinect Sensor, the Kinect 2 is absolutely brilliant. I was just going to leave it in the box and never use it but I thought that it deserves a chance, and I’m so glad that I did. Its voice recognition is top notch. It’s very rare that I have an issue with it, and I have a lisp so. It now requires only 4 to 6 feet of space, making it perfect for small rooms. It recognises different people and relevant functions related to this works, such as auto sign-in with the passing of the controller. If you are unaware of this feature, if Kinect/Xbox One has your face/body scanned and linked to a profile, it will automatically sign the person in to who is using the controller. Downsides to that is if you are taking it in turns with somebody and they don’t have the relevant saved data for that account, but the feature can be turned off, just means
that you will have to sign in manually every time.

Controller

The controller is absolutely fantastic. I thought the Xbox 360 controller could not get any better. Boy was I wrong. I first got to hold a controller a week before launch at work (I work as a Shop Floor Sales Assistant at GAME Ltd. as a Christmas Temp). It’s a suitable weight, it fits in your hands nicely, the d-pad is a massive improvement and the haptic feedback vibration is top notch. It gives a new level to the immersion. The one problem I had with the controller was the bumper and triggers due to the different shape of them but as time went by and I used it more and more, I learnt how to use the controller better to suit the new shape and I must say it is a much better feel to the whole experience. I recently returned to playing Xbox 360 to mop up a few games for achievements and it felt so weird going back to using the Xbox 360 controller. It felt like a natural transition from Xbox 360 to Xbox One controller but going backwards just doesn’t feel right.

There are always some bad points

So yeah, that’s enough in detail. Let’s go into some bad points about the console. The party system has changed and not for good either. You have to start a new party if you wanted to play a different game, well from my experiences anyway. Again, sticking with the party theme, you have to manually turn on party chat when joining a party. Wouldn’t it make more sense to have it on by default? The connectivity range on the controller is not as great as it is on the Xbox 360, but that’s not such an important downside. Previous headsets will not work with the Xbox One due to different connections. No backwards compatibility. Every game must be installed but to a non-changable 500GB hard drive. That will hold on average about 15 games if each game were 30GB, although it has been confirmed that Microsoft is working to allow for External Hard Drives compatibility.

To sum up

Good Points

  • Range of Games
  • Easy to setup
  • Brilliant hardware
  • User Interface
  • Kinect 2

Bad Points

  • User Interface
  • Annoying DVR auto-recording
  • Non-Changable Hard Drive
  • No backwards compatability with games or hardware.
9
The Xbox One: Did MS Screw Up? No. Are We Being Cranky? Yes.
My opinionated review on the Xbox One little under a month of release.

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Author
Escrudo
Hi there. My name is Liam. I'm a uni student in Weston-Super Mare, UK studying Applied Computing. I love JRPGs and the like. I'm also an avid achievement hunter.