THE NEXT GEN IS HERE! Well, technically it came out last year, and this really should have been an earlier article, but you know what they say, “Deal with it”. Ignoring the cheesy title, yes, the Xbox One has finally arrived to our doorstep and the response has been huge, and it’s only going to get bigger with the release of a Titanfall bundle which has boosted sales by 96%. The Xbox One has certainly taken the markets by storm, but what do the gamers who have bought them actually think and what are they putting their money into? All will be explained below, with a few consumer (friends) quotes.
I suppose I should go into the boring nerdy stuff first and get that out the way, let’s talk specs. The Xbox One was built with massive games in mind, things like huge open-world RPGs, high intensity graphic action and fast paced, motion-based games. Because of this, it’s really no surprise it holds inside that smooth chrome-black body an 8 core CPU system and 8GB of RAM, which is pretty close to most gaming computers at the moment. Also, because of encouragement of downloading and streaming games, movies and music, it is accompanied with a 500GB hard drive. On the notion of movies, it also comes with a built in Blu-ray drive for all your Blu-ray needs, no more bad quality superheroes and gangster fights and more high quality romance scenes and ten-gallon hats. In terms of ports, on the back you will find a slot for the power cable (duh), a HDMI output with which the cable is handily given to you in the box so you don’t have to spend a fortune on one, an S/PDIF port for your home cinema, a HDMI input port to plug you cable box into for TV, two USB 3.0 ports for charge kits and external hard drives, a Kinect port (duh), an IR out because you can’t be bothered to find a TV remote and finally an Ethernet port for those who don’t trust their wireless connection. Unfortunately, the Xbox One is still missing some things that we want, things like backwards compatibility and party chat, but Microsoft say they are working on this with downloadable 360 games later and the next patch should sort the party chat out. The graphics have been upgraded to next-gen graphics, supporting 1080p and 60FPS which includes games, movies and even Skype chat, so you will be able to see your family and friends as if they were there with you. The design of the One looks smooth and modern, but this could be seen as a rouse as the console itself is actually quite a big hunk of metal rather than being streamline and small, and the top has been known to scratch really easily from things as easily as a game disk.
“Not as high powered as the PS4, but it fits in with what I want from a console.”
It doesn’t stop here, oh no. The One came with tons and tons of useful features, some quite critisied on its announcement. We’ll start of good shall we? And where to start? There’s the ‘snap’ feature which allows you to have a game running alongside an app on the same screen, allowing for some extremely handy combinations. For example, if you’re stuck on an unbelievably hard level on Dark Souls 2 (which, let’s be honest, is pretty much all of it), then you can whack a YouTube guide up or an Internet Explorer guide to help you out. Or maybe you just want to watch a movie on Netflix whilst playing a monotonous game of The Sims. There is also the switch feature, allowing you to jump instantly from games, to TV, to movies, to music and to sport, and then switch back again whenever you want. Another huge feature is the Game DVR and Upload Studio. Those who have YouTube accounts and regularly upload, not only does this save time and money, buts it’s surprisingly convenient as well. Game DVR is essentially the Xbox One’s version of recording and editing software, as it is constantly recording the last five munities of your gameplay which can be saved manually or shouting at Kinect to “record that”. When you launch DVR, you can edit the clips and set start and finish times, all of which are recorded on 720p at 30 FPS. After you have the footage, you can put into Upload Studio, where you can edit more of your video such as trimming and renaming, you may want to add a voiceover or change volume levels as well. After you’ve finished going all Gok Wan on your video with skins and volume, you can upload it onto social networking sites like Facebook or YouTube to show all your friends and viewers, it’s as simple as that. Of course you can record multiple clips and put them together to create masterpieces of video to put onto YouTube when you’ve got to grips with DVR and Upload Studio. Of course, there has been some problems, but that’s what you can expect from a newly released console and there are currently no life-changing problems that have caused people to regret their buy and the rumours and speculation on the release have all been cleared up – no, you do not need a constant internet connection, no, you do not need to have Kinect plugged in, and yes, you can use disked games and pre-owned games.
“The speech recognition was like a novelty, it was pointless to be using it at night or trying to talk to people whilst trying to talk stupidly to the Xbox”
Kinect was a small feature of the older Xbox, something that was considered an accessory. Now, with the Xbox One, it’s a mandatory addition to the package, and something a lot of people underestimated. When first setting up your One, you’ll go through the process of setting up your Kinect, and it’s important you get this right as Kinects room awareness is crucial to it working properly. It allows Kinect to recognise faces, smaller room spaces and even work in the dark, so Batman will have no problem at all in getting his Kinect to work in the Batcave. Kinect is extremely sensitive though and things like finger prints could interrupt the sensor or it not being able to see the floor, meaning it won’t be able to pin-point your position in the room, and trust me, a game of Marco Polo with Kinect is not fun. Along with these amazing features though, Kinect can detect who has the controller, it can be used for Skype calls and you can even use it to record voiceovers in Upload Studio. Kinect is also the hub of all your voice commands, which is the biggest reason people leave this baby plugged in. This is part where most people imagine they are part of the crew on the Normandy, where the future is actually coming alive. Kinect has one of the most accurate voice command systems going and it just feels so cool when you walk into your room and say “Xbox, ON”, then suddenly your Xbox lights up and the Home Screen pops up on the TV, if only your lights, TV, and sometimes your lazy best friend had this feature. The list of commands is endless, and more can only be added at this point, with you being able to get your Xbox to record things, change apps, snap apps, call friends, Bing anything, launch games, and the least used voice command – “Xbox, turn OFF”. Talking to some of my friends though, they have said that this feature is really just for “novelty”, as you will probably use it once and then never use it again. Along with this, the Kinect features a 1080p camera, night vision and depth perception camera features, and biometric scanning.
Just a short paragraph, because you’ve probably gotten bored already, on the One’s controller. They haven’t messed too much with the classic design of the controller, with all the similar features such as the A,B,X, and Y buttons. The main change is the back and start buttons, which have been done to fit the One and its multi-tasking abilities. The View and Menu buttons show the game menus like in most games but they work as a thread to other games and apps on the One, along with the double-tapping of the Xbox button which allows an instant change to another game and feature of the Xbox. One thing that you can’t appreciate until you have actually held the controller in your hands is the new rumble feedback. Extra rumble has been directed to the triggers, giving the player a massive sense of direction and accuracy, especially in first person shooters, and the thumb sticks are even more responsive and comfortable now so no more feeling like a Stormtrooper from Star Wars not being able to shoot anything. Lastly but not leastly (yes, that was a play on words not a misspelling, get over it), the controllers work in partisan with Kinect, no more annoying pairing with the controller as Kinect recognises them instantly and does the hard work for you.
As you probably will have guessed, Microsoft console = Windows format. The new Home Screen suits the Windows interface well and there are plenty of features for me to ramble on about here as well. The dashboard features three main panes which are Home, Pins and Store. Home is the first you will see and includes everything you’d expect your home screen to have, your info, games and news. Pins is where your favourite games and apps are all kept so you can access them easily whenever you want and Store, well that’s pretty self-explanatory. As you’d expect, the achievement feature is back on and you’ll get notifications whenever your friends come online as well, and there is addition of time based challenges on some games that give you extra achievements as well. The addition of OneGuide is good if you have connected your TV to your Xbox, as it gives you a guide as to what is on TV at the moment IF YOU LIVE IN AMERICA and can be simply accessed by pressing X on the home screen.
As you will have seen in one of my earlier posts, the games this year are going to be ground-breaking with things like Project Spark and Titanfall, and this is no different for Xbox One games. This includes some of the biggest blockbuster exclusives like Forza 5, Ryse, Dead Rising and Quantum Break, along with some of the best multiplatform games like Destiny, Watch Dogs, Ghosts and FIFA 14. There are some problems though, and pretty big ones too. Battlefield 4 was the biggest, with missing sound, complete lag and epic glitches and several multiplayer problems. Not only this, but CoD Ghosts has some problems as well with it not being able to run at 1080p, completely ignoring the new graphical features of the One. Despite the rumours, the Xbox One is compatible with discs and downloads meaning you can buy, sell and trade all your games as much as you want, so get scrounging off your friends now because at the price of £50-£60 a game, sharing really is caring.
“Good quality, FIFA looks much more realistic. Price is a bit steep and could come down though.”
Finally, Xbox Live is much more responsive now, whether you like it or not. Games are going to be monitored closely as more One exclusive games get released such as Arkham Knight, and it has been said that as you play, the AI will tailor themselves to how you play to make a more challenging game. Along with this, developers constantly want to change the games in some way, which can be done with small updates you won’t even notice instead of those large 10 minute ones on the 360 which forced you to get a drink mid-way through. This means extra achievements, enemies, storylines, objectives and features can all be added or improved through updates that you won’t even realised had happened until you die for the 20th time to same Elite on Halo.
As a next-gen console, the Xbox One has everything you would want to find in a gaming system and an entertainment system. It been made so you don’t have to do anything at all, no getting up to switch it on or sync controllers and access to downloadable games has been easier than ever before. But, for a console that has won 111 awards, there are some massive flaws. The pricing is ridiculous at £400 and the games are even worse with Titanfall being £60 at some retailers. Some of the features are also classed as one offs. The voice control is one of these as it’s something you may find yourself using once for a laugh and then never again, and it’s something you can’t really use at night when people are asleep or when you’re talking to friends on Skype or in party chat, as mentioned before. So really, it’s all good to those who can afford it, but in my opinion, you’re still going to get a couple of years out of your 360 or Slim, so don’t rush to upgrade just yet.