Review by BigReed
"While the Xbox One offers a good experience so far, It's hard to recommend it over the ps4"
Big leap in power compared to last generation, Kinect is included and a part of the core experience, interesting launch exclusives, multitasking capabilities, provides a full living room experience, Skype
Xbox One controller is inferior to the 360 controller, the user interface is sloppy and confusing, game installs take a long time, most expensive 8th generation console
The last of the 8th generation of consoles has finally released with the arrival of Microsoft's new Xbox One. The Xbox One, during a brief stint, may have been the most unpopular console of all time. During the now famous E3 of 2013, Microsoft seemed to say all the wrong things, and Sony ended up looking like the white knight of gaming. Needless to say, Microsoft did some back peddling, and was able to turn things around with the Xbox One. From all of the negative press, some of the things Microsoft employees said, departures of said employees from the company, and the extreme backlash from gamers around the world; I seriously did not expect the Xbox One to even release without some heavy changes. Basically, everything that was hated about the Xbox One has indeed been changed prior to launch, and Microsoft mended most of the relationships with their fans. The Xbox One is powerful, features Kinect controls and facial recognition, syncs with your other features outside of gaming, and also has a healthy launch library; but with the elevated price tag, slightly inferior controller, and confusing interface, the Xbox One is hard to recommend over the ps4 if you can only pick one.
If you liked the Xbox 360 controller, you will be slightly disappointed
Let me begin by saying, that the Xbox 360 controller is probably the best controller I have ever used. Until recently, with the dualshock 4, no other controller has come close to providing the comfort and precision that the 360 controller was able to offer gamers. That controller was also the only controller that has ever felt natural in my hands. I received both and Xbox One and ps4 recently, and while setting my new consoles up, I decided to hand a few of the controller to my wife, and then ask her what she thought. Now, while my wife is not a gamer by any means, and really is not into technology as a whole, she offers insight that I often do not realize because of how invested I am into consumer electronics, specifically gaming. My views are often biased because I enjoy playing games, whereas her opinions are more natural. Anyway, she tried the 360, ps3, Xbox One, and ps4 controllers all out. The 360 controller won, in her opinion, because it felt that her hands naturally went with the design of the controller. I felt that Microsoft did not need any major changes to the Xbox One controller. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, as they say. Sadly, the Xbox One controller has made some questionable changes, and I am not exactly sure why. Now, there are certainly improvements to the controllers. The analog sticks are a nice improvement. They feel slightly smaller, but with much better grip due to the material. The dpad, thank goodness, is also a huge improvement over the 360, and now can actually be used effectively for gaming. But the overall feel of the controller is a little more uncomfortable. The home button is much harder to reach, and the hand grips feel boxier. I have not held the original Xbox controller in a while (the remodel), but it reminded me of that when I first held it. The Xbox One controller is still a good input device of course, and I am sure I will eventually become used to it, but I was honestly surprised at the changes Microsoft decided on, considering they had a near perfect controller to improve upon.
Kinect The Xbox is watching and listening
Last generation, Microsoft entered the motion control market with the Kinect for the Xbox 360, to capitalize on the non-traditional gamers that Nintendo had seemingly discovered with the Nintendo Wii. The Kinect ended up being a huge success within the casual community, but the core gamers were left wondering how this could innovate traditional titles. Well, the Kinect is much more improved, and comes with every Xbox One, but I believe that Microsoft, and publishers as well, are still going to be attempting to discover how this camera device can innovate gaming. Microsoft made the right choice by including the Kinect into the experience, as opposed to selling it separately much like the PlayStation Eye. A decision had to be made. Should Microsoft give up on the Kinect entirely, and sell the Xbox One for a lower price? Or, should the Kinect be included in the experience rather than be set aside as an add-on device? Microsoft chose the latter, and now developers and publishers must integrate the Kinect into the experience in some capacity. Making motion controls, or other innovation, a side element that is not required, means that many companies will just simply ignore the device. It will certainly be interesting to see where Microsoft, and third parties, go with the use of the Kinect, but I am assuming that it will end up just being used to control the Xbox One, rather than offer gameplay elements to traditional games.
While the Kinect only offers small gameplay elements currently, it can be used extensively to navigate the Xbox One. Voice and facial recognition make up the bulk of what the device does in terms of input commands. During the setup process, the Kinect will view your face and body, and will associate your face with your gamertag. When your Xbox One turns on, it will automatically log whoever on, that is within the view of the camera. And to top that all off, you actually can turn the console on by saying Xbox on. Most of the commands begin with the user saying Xbox. These commands, and the idea overall, still feel a little bit stiff and goofy. Yes, you are turning on your console with your voice, and yes, you can do an internet search while in a game, all with the sound of your voice. But saying Xbox, and a following command, is still something that will take some time to become accustomed to. Much like the Wii mote, the new ideas associated with a new controller are often ignored. Everything can be done with the regular controller as well, but I do agree that using the Kinect makes the experience much faster. For now, I believe Microsoft will stick to their guns in regards to the Kinect, but I also would not be shocked if they released a 399 dollar model without a Kinect sometime in the future.
This past year has been rough for Microsoft. Not only did they have to fix all of the Xbox One drama, but their new operating system, Windows 8, was met with an equal amount of consumer backlash. Now me, personally, I love Windows 8. The operating system needed a redesign, because even though many consumers were used to the Windows XP style, they did not actually know how to use, or even fully understand it. Microsoft needed change, and once again, much like the Xbox One drama, they were able to overcome the backlash and move on. The Xbox One uses an operating system very similar to Windows 8, and will welcome 360 gamers back who were used to the metro design on that system. There are some slight differences of course, like the ability to multitask on the Xbox One, but overall, the operating system if familiar to the Windows experience as a whole. Right now however, the Xbox One experience, even with the use of the Kinect, seems clunky and confusing due to how the operating system is organized. While you can use the snap feature to do multiple things at once, navigating the console feels like work sometimes. Gaming has taken a backseat on the Xbox One, with whatever game disc you have in the console appearing as a very tiny square on the bottom right of the screen. And any time you go into a menu, the entire thing is launched like an application on a phone. Meaning, if you want to check your friends list real quick, but do not want to utilize the snap feature so a chunk of the screen is not taken up, then you have to wait a couple seconds to launch the app, and also a couple more to load the data once the app is open. The experience of the operating system, which greatly decides how the console will be viewed, seemed slower and harder to do in almost every aspect, compared to the ps4. This is something Microsoft will have to work on, and this is also something they thrived at with the 360. You can pretty much bet on Microsoft releasing a big update to the operating system sometime in late 2014. Hopefully they can clean the operating system up a bit, and smooth out the user interface.
Software and install times
In terms of launch titles, the Xbox One has more attractive software than the ps4 has available. Now, last generation spoke a different tale, with Sony dominating the industry with exclusives, and Microsoft either paying for timed exclusives, or losing them to multiplatform releases. I remember early in the life of the Xbox 360, games like Bioshock and Mass Effect were exclusive, but time makes fools of us all, and Microsoft was eventually left with their big three exclusive franchises (Halo, Gears of War, and Forza). Xbox certainly has other exclusives as well, but once the ps3 picked up in terms of sales, then fewer and fewer titles remained exclusive to one company. The Xbox One has several exclusive titles at launch like Dead Rising 3, Ryse: Son of Rome, Forza Motorsport 5, and Killer Instinct. None of these games listed are generation defining titles, but they are worth buying or checking out. While the launch titles of the Xbox One are pretty impressive in terms of variety, only time will tell if Microsoft can keep up the exclusive content years to come.
The Xbox One comes with a 500 GB hard drive, which is a nice improvement over the Xbox 360, but also a necessity due to the fact that each and every game must be installed on the hdd. Each retail game you buy will be installed to the Xbox One, and then the disc will be used to verify ownership of the license. This improves energy consumption, load times, and noise reduction. I did this constantly on my Xbox 360, and the ps3 actually forced players to install certain chunks of the game to the hdd. The only issue I have with the process, is that it takes forever on the Xbox One. Both the ps4 and Xbox One require the install to be done, but the Xbox One takes a substantially longer time to do so. A game on the ps4 takes roughly ten to twenty seconds for the install, and an Xbox One game takes roughly ten minutes. When installing Dead Rising 3, I thought my Xbox One had locked up because of how long it was taking. This is a huge downside to the console, and something that Microsoft needs to take into consideration since the process is mandatory for every game.
Recommendation: Buy It
I am giving the Xbox One the Buy It recommendation, but with a few stipulations to consider before the purchase. If you are a multiple console owner, then pick up the Xbox One. There is plenty of software to keep you busy, and those familiar with the Xbox experience, will find themselves at home with what the Xbox One offers. However, if you are a single console owner, or the decision for you is either the ps4 or the Xbox One, then I would have to suggest the ps4 instead. I have owned both consoles for a little over two weeks now, and have put almost all of my free time into gaming recently, and so far, the ps4 does almost everything just a little bit better than the Xbox One, when looking at it as objectively as you can. Regardless though, the decision comes down to preference, and owning both has been a good experience thus far.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 01/02/14, Updated 01/07/14
Game Release: Xbox One (Day One Edition) (US, 11/22/13)
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