Xbox One – Six Months In

Xbox On

I am now six month in to my next-gen experience, so now is a good time to evaluate how it has been. I always was a PlayStation guy. I had the original PlayStation, then the PS2 and the PS3 but when my PS3 broke, I switched platforms to Xbox 360 for two reasons – Kinect and Forza. I enjoyed the 360 and in fact still have it to play F1 and Tiger Woods PGA Tour on it, but when the announcement for the next-gen Xbox was being made I watched with baited breath. Then Xbox One was announced. I was excited but also didn’t really know what to make of it. Much was made of the entertainment features such as Skype and TV integration – the latter of which I was dubious about given that I am in the UK and technology features such as these rarely cross over seamlessly. But still, I liked what I saw but I never imagined that I would be in a situation whereby I could afford one on launch day and obtain a Day One Special Edition. However, through circumstance I was lucky and after missing opportunity after opportunity to grab a Day One model, I came home after lectures on Day One and saw a few Day One consoles available at a UK high street retailer. I immediately jumped at the opportunity and secured one and awaited delivery. The agonising wait was made worse by the fact that the console was delivered to my home whilst I was still in university halls.

Eventually though I got to use it and immediately loved it. Kinect voice control was slick and the whole feel very clean. Then came for me the first test of the gaming. I started with the copy of FIFA 14 which was included with the console. What took my breath away more than anything was the detail – the individual grass blades when the ball is kicked was the biggest detail that I noticed. A tiny thing which makes just a huge difference. Then came the big hit for me in the form of Forza 5. The minute I played that game I loved it. The precision. The detail. Simply exquisite. Every time I play it, I still get that excitement that I did on day one. Also included was Call of Duty: Ghosts which truth be told, overall I was not as impressed with. It just wasn’t as crisp or slick as the other two I’d played and then when I bought Battlefield 4, Battlefield put it to shame. I absolutely love Battlefield 4 though I do wish that there was a CoD:Ghosts style ‘Squads’ mode.  Overall, gaming is fast and slick. It looks so sharp and for me, switching back to the 360 for certain games, the difference for me at least is night and day.

Turning now to the entertainment features of the console. TV doesn’t work in the UK yet as I feared at release and looks like it will not work properly with me either as I use a built in Freeview HD tuner for my TV signal. That is disappointing as all videos I have seen of this feature makes it look very good. Kinect voice control works around 90% of the time for me and is a feature that I absolutely love. I also love Skype for Xbox One. Another really great feature though for whatever reason, for me the auto-zooming doesn’t work when there is more than just me on a video call. It will focus on one person rather than on both of us together which is rather inconvenient. Other apps such as Netflix work seamlessly also. In the USA where the app selection is better with offerings not available in the UK such as Hulu, ESPN and the WWE Network (launching late 2014 in the UK) alongside offerings available on both sides of the Atlantic such as Netflix and the Xbox Music and Video Apps as well as Blu-Ray capability, it is clear to see how the Xbox One could come to dominate the living room in the coming months.

There are some aspects where the Xbox One does let down slightly. The first for me is facial recognition log in. For me it works only 40-50% of the time which is a shame as when it does work, it again is seamless. I would like to see more apps created though this will only come with time and of course is dependent on service availability – Hulu will only ever make it here if the Hulu service expands to the UK whilst I would assume the WWE Network app will become available in the UK when the WWE Network launches in the UK in late 2014/early 2015. I would though like to see apps for the NBA and NFL make it to the UK in times for the start of the new 2014/15 seasons. It would also be nice to see BT Sport launch an app on the platform as well for catch up. Again though, this is outside of Microsoft’s control and is relying on individual services developing the apps. The only other major gripe I have with the Xbox One platform is that there is no baseball game on it as yet. I am aware of RBI Baseball due to be launched soon through the Xbox Live Marketplace but I am really wanting a true baseball simulation title such as PS4 owners have in MLB 14: The Show. Finally, I would also like to see tweaks to Kinect to allow greater use of the voice controls particularly in the web browser to allow you to say go to Google and rather than type your search, be able to speak it.

Overall, I love the Xbox One. It is a great console providing great gaming with excellent features. With tweaks to Kinect’s voice controls and log in as well as an increase in apps this console can only get better. If Microsoft can work out a way to get the TV function to work with inbuilt tuners in the UK then it will be even better. Add a baseball game on and it will be perfect! Joking aside, I love the Xbox One and do not regret buying in on Day One one bit.