It’s coming up to two months since the Xbox One launched. Our first 168 hours with the Xbox One turned out to be rather successful but now, over 1000 hours later we’ve started to notice the really great things about the new console…..and others that are a tad annoying.
But with a sunny outlook on life, we must really look at the positives first. Coming up, three things that Microsoft absolutely nailed with the Xbox One and then three things that they quite frankly buggered up.
The Lost Island – Surely we have to start by mentioning the potential. In the initial line up of games we got some hints of what this machine will deliver in it’s future life. Whether it’s the amazing Prague track in Forza 5 when you climb over the hill to see a city in the distance with a draw rate like you never experienced on a console before, or in Dead Rising 3 where the sheer amount of undead on the screen at once is astonishing, all moving independently from each other and waiting for you to dice them up with a sword attached to a leaf blower. The whole of RYSE, however flawed, is a taster in the what the Xbox One can offer in the way of spectacle, life like acting and an amazing story. Hell, even Fifa has it’s amazing new crowds and grass effects, while Battlefield’s smoke and fire effects are very pleasing to the eyes. The future is very bright I think. I am very, very, very excited and hopeful about where this console will take us in the next couple of years.
James – It’s the game installations that I’ve been impressed with. Yes it takes a little while when you first play a game to get it installed onto the Xbox One hard drive and each one takes up a large amount of storage generally, but the benefits certainly make it worthwhile. Most importantly it shortens the initial loading times to the point where if you want to switch between Battlefield 4 on disc to a FIFA 14 downloaded game it takes all of five seconds. No more time wasted when you want to play a game, the installations make the smooth transitions between games better than I’ve ever seen. Add to that the lessened loading screens between levels (with an exception or two), it frees up more time to spend actually playing the games.
Neil – For me, a major plus has been something that many may overlook, the headset! There’s no debating that a decent headset improves a game, there’s also no debating that the official headset that came bundled with the Xbox 360 was a bit rubbish. For that reason, most 360 owners quickly discarded their boring official grey offering for something with a little more punch, with those from Turtle Beach or Astro being the usual sets of choice. The news that the Xbox One wouldn’t support these headsets at launch sent shockwaves around the community, but thankfully the Xbox One official ear piece is a bit decent. Coming in with a sleek black squared off design, it most definitely fits nicer on the head than its predecessor (unless of course, you have yourself a strange head!). The volume and mute button, which was previously found hanging around the chest area, has also been moved and what at first glance looks like a chunky unneeded addition turns out to be an inspired choice. It’s now so simple to adjust your mic volume without even having to take your hands off the controller and I for one couldn’t even imagine going back to the 360 way of things. The sound is also incredible, having been upgraded in every way and you can now hear party chat members coming through in absolute crystal clear digital audio. In turn, the mic part of the headset lovingly fits around your face so those party members can hear you with just as much clarity…..Can’t they?
Neil – Well, yes those party members can hear you, but only once you’ve turned on numerous options in the Party Chat menu. There’s no two ways about it, party chat is rubbish and for everything I said earlier in regards to the headset, having a decent ear piece is no good if no one can hear you. And when I say no one, I obviously mean your friends on Xbox Live. There are many issues with the chat system, whether you can’t hear your friends unless you are in the same game as them, or whether it kicks you out for no reason at all, what was a massive plus point on the 360 has unfortunately been turned into a game itself, a game of roulette! Things have come to a head recently for me whilst in games of Need For Speed Rivals. I’m sat there minding my own business, playing the single player game when whoosh, a load of inane chatter pours out of my tv speakers and into my living room. Chatter from complete strangers that I don’t wish to hear. If there was one thing I would like to see Microsoft change/fix/destroy, then it would be to go back to the simple party options of the 360 and do away with all this Xbox One party chat nonsense. Or at least make it that when I join a party of friends, I don’t have to bother switching voice chat on….that should be a default setting!
James – I currently have a hatred of the notification system. Not all forms of notifications are necessarily bad; however it’s the sheer lack of some that disappoints me the most. I’ll set the scene… I’m in an online FIFA match, suddenly my player stops moving, what on earth is happening?! Oh my controller battery is dead and I’ve just conceded a goal. There’s absolutely no way to know when you’re about to need new batteries or a quick charge. After investigating the settings it’s also clear to see that there’s no way to receive a pop-up when people on your friends list come online. This means coming out of games or apps to have a look every so often and I feel that’s a massive step backwards in connecting with our friends, especially when they worked so well and were so easy on the 360.
The Lost Island – I opened this article by bigging up the potential of the system, dropping a few titles in with a view as to what we might expect in the future, but I’m going to close it with a negative. The starting line up of games. It wasn’t hot and it wasn’t cold. It was lukewarm and like my gaming skill in general, very average. We had mostly ports of Xbox 360 games that had been out months before, with a few graphical extras added. The two main Xbox one exclusive games were part of a franchise that you felt would of happened anyway regardless of the new generation. The only two notable interesting original games were RYSE and Zoo Tycoon. But even then both had problems with the gameplay itself, even though they looked great. It all felt a bit rushed and the next six months are also looking a bit sparse gaming wise. We have a few old titles from last year (Tomb Raider and Rayman) updated for Xbox One and of course the major excitement of Titanfall. Then apart from Elder Scrolls there is no firm release dates confirmed yet. Why has this happened? Were the game developers not given the development kits early enough? Did no one trust the new machines? Is it to expensive to make these games for the consoles? I am sure we will soon have loads of games coming in by next year, but it’s such a shame we have to wait like we did when the Xbox 360 launched.
So that’s it from us. Whilst it’s not in doubt that we all love our first foray into the next gen and are more than happy it is here, there is still that little niggle at the back of our minds that things aren’t totally sorted. With an Xbox One update seemingly just around the corner, lets just hope the issues get fixed and the Xbox One continues to wow us on all fronts.
Authors: Neil, James, TheLostIsland