Top positive review
1,326 people found this helpful
Not perfect, but very good. Time will only make it better.
on November 29, 2013
I got my Xbox One on launch day, so I've had about a while now to play with it and find out what I think about the system. It is an excellent follow-up to the Xbox 360, but not without some minor flaws.
*What I like:*
[+] The dashboard is integrated WAY better than the Xbox 360 and PS3. There is no longer the feeling of "in a game" or "in the dashboard". You are ALWAYS in both. Say you are in the middle of a game but want to spontaneously change a system setting or launch another app etc. Both the 360 and PS3 had some semi-dashboard functionality built into the dashboard/home button, but most everything required you to first exit the game and go to the dashboard (aside from some shortcuts to go straight to a different game). Now, you press the dashboard button and without interrupting your game in any way, you now have access to the full dashboard and settings, etc. There is really no such thing as being required to "quit" a game anymore, which is awesome.
[+] Speed. I always was surprised that through the entire life of the Xbox 360 (including the 360 S and 360 E), there was an unacceptable amount of lag on many core dashboard functions. Something as basic as showing your list of games, or list of gamerpics to change to, or achievement lists, or loading marketplace screens, would often take several seconds of waiting to populate. The Xbox One's startup is acceptably fast, but basic things like loading marketplace content or my list of installed apps, achievements, etc, is very quick. Switching between game and dashboard is no longer the slow annoyance it used to be, but rather is nearly instantaneous.
[+] Dashboard Layout: The Xbox 360 dashboard was too cluttered and poorly organized, in my opinion. There were many different 'sections' to scroll through with LB and RB that made it take longer than necessary to get around. The Xbox One dashboard only has three now, it's much cleaner and simpler. Your pinned games/apps, main section to switch back to currently in-use game/app or browse your other apps, etc, and the third section is for browsing/downloading new games/apps. Very easy to navigate. It's also completely add free. Though at launch, the Xbox 360 had very few ads, and over time Microsoft worked a lot of extra advertising space into the design. So let's keep our fingers crossed that doesn't happen again, especially when you are a subscribing Xbox Live Gold member! I also like the notification and achievement changes. You can earn 0-point achievements in random apps, like for watching videos and such. It's admittedly pretty pointless, but if you don't like the idea of pointless achievements, you can easily ignore their existence.
[+] Built-in game DVR. Very cool feature that removes the need for external recording equipment for anyone interested in that. Even if you don't plan on using this feature, it could still benefit you in the form of more & better guide videos from other people that will likely be swarming onto YouTube.
[+] The controller. Controller design has come a long way since the old Atari joysticks or uncomfortable NES gamepads. I have used Sony's Dual Shock 3, Nintendo's Wii U Pro controller, Xbox 360 controller and Xbox One controller. They are all fantastic. But I must say I always liked the 360 controller the best. The Xbox One controller is simply an improvement upon that one. The only downside to the 360 controller was the mediocre D-pad, which has definitely experienced a massive improvement in the XBO update. They also moved the guide/dashboard button higher, which I like since I used to accidentally hit that when I meant to hit Start/Back. I even like how they redesigned the battery to go inside the controller. It takes slightly longer to swap a battery out, but since I use the USB cable to charge instead of swapping batteries (no Quick Charge Kit yet exists for the One like the 360 has), that doesn't matter at this point. The only thing I don't like is renaming the Start and Back buttons. "Press Menu" sounds way less cool than "Press Start" you're used to on any game's splash screen.
[+] Noise levels and cooling/reliability. Anyone who had a launch Xbox 360 or launch PlayStation 3 (I have both) knows what I'm talking about. Those things were LOUD. Distractingly loud. Even over my high-end surround speakers. The Xbox One's internal fan is very large compared to the launch 360 (google photos if its internals). Large fans can move more air and are not as loud as small fans. This also helps with its reliability, as the Xbox 360's biggest launch issues were overheating problems. Microsoft learned from this and I guarantee that will not be an issue here. I wanted to make sure of this, so I have literally had my Xbox One powered on almost 24 hours a day for the last week since launch day. This is because if it's going to overheat, I want to know now rather than down the line after the warranty is up. And I'm killing two birds with one stone because Killer Instinct has some goals related to how long you are in practice mode, so I leave it idling in practice mode while at work. Yeah, call me crazy. But anyway, so far, it has handled being constantly on for days at a time with not a single issue.
[+] The HDMI-In is definitely a unique feature to the Xbox One that the other consoles can't touch. It's not for everyone; you might not care about it. But it certainly opens up some neat possibilities. Any other HDMI-enabled device you may be interested in using can be switched to and from at a moment's notice. I plugged my PS3 into mine, not for the purpose of gaming (since there is a tiny bit of input lag), but to be able to have a game disc in my XBO and a Blu-ray movie in my PS3 so I can switch without removing the game. I could certainly live without the HDMI input, but since it's there I may as well experiment with some interesting ways to use it.
[+] I obviously can't speak for everyone else, but my Xbox One console, disc drive, controller, and Kinect, all function flawlessly and had absolutely no issues.
*What I don't like:*
[-] Launch line-up. If you are on the fence about buying the console and you're not immediately sure what game(s) to even get for it, you could easily wait it out a while longer. Forza 5 and some of the multi-platform releases are pretty cool (like Need for Speed Rivals), but I'm not sure they're $60 cool. If you are buying the Xbox One now, you're doing it for the novelty of being among the first to have a cutting-edge system. This is true with the PS4 as well. Anybody who swears by any of the launch game is just a fanboy drone. There are a handful of *pretty good* games for both systems, but I see them as more of $30-40 titles. Honestly, I've enjoyed the downloadable Xbox One games the most, such as Killer Instinct, Peggle 2, Halo: Spartan Assault, or the free Kinect Sports trial. A big disappointment is that digital versions of full retail games (like Call of Duty Ghosts) cost MSRP. Until Microsoft shares some of the cost reduction from going all-digital (no marketing, manufacturing, shipping, middle-man retailers, etc), I will ALWAYS buy my games in the form of the retail disc version. A $60 retail game should be $40-50 tops from the Xbox Live Store. It's so backwards that all the retail games are a flat $60 at all times via the Xbox Store, when already Amazon has had various sales that have at some point put them at $39 (Lego Marvel Superheroes) to $49 (almost every launch game). Have some digital sales and permanent price drops and I might actually buy some of them!
[-] No backwards compatibility. This would have been an even more important feature now than it was on the Xbox 360. We've now had eight years to build up a game library on our Xbox 360s. Mine is quite large. Not being able to use that collection as a buffer between Xbox One launch, and when all the great XBO exclusives hit, is very disappointing. The original Xbox only had four years to amass its game library, and since it was the first of Microsoft's consoles, there were far less owners with far less games than now exists with the Xbox 360. A lot of the same sentiments apply to the PlayStation 4. Both consoles could have benefited greatly from a backwards compatibility feature, since neither of their game libraries will be very expansive for at least a year or so. It's also disappointing that I need to keep both consoles connected to my TV. When I bought my Wii U (and PS3, Xbox 360, PS2, Wii), I could give a nostalgic farewell to my Wii (and PS2, Xbox, PS1, GameCube) and disconnect them from my AV setup entirely, while still playing all my games.
[-] There are not yet many ways to show the system off to your friends. The games are nowhere close to pushing the graphics to their limit. The cars on Forza 5 are gorgeous. But Call of Duty and any other multiplatform release will disappoint as far as graphical difference between 360/PS3 and One/PS4. But that's expected, and happens with every new generation. I'm sure the games further down the line will be much more graphically impressive (Titanfall, Destiny, Gears of War, Halo, etc).
[-] Two steps forward, one step backwards: There are many features absent from the new generation of consoles that my last gen consoles have. Firstly, playing 3D Blu-ray movies. My old PlayStation 3 had this feature, but neither the PlayStation 4 nor Xbox One's Blu-ray drives can play 3D movies! Why the step backwards? I know both will likely eventually get an update to add this feature, but it is so lame to see features missing that my old consoles have. Another example of this is the Xbox One's hard drive. 500GB is your only option. There are no higher tiers you can buy like they have for the PS3 and 360, and unlike last generation, this hard drive is *not replaceable*. You also can't view how much of that space you've used, like I could on my 360. I know 500GB sounds like a lot, but I guarantee it will get eaten up much faster than last generation, and you have no way to expand it. And unlike on the 360, you can't add a flash drive or hard drive or any type of external storage. Not just for game saves, but you can't even put music or video files on a flash drive to play from your Xbox One. I still have to turn on my PS3 or 360 for this. There are also fewer USB ports than the Xbox 360 had, and I don't think you can ever have too many USB ports. On the front of the 360, 360 S, and 360 E, there were two USB ports. There are *zero* USB ports on the front of the Xbox One, which makes playing with the Play and Charge USB cable connected undesirable. There is one USB port on the left side, but that means if someone trips on a Play and Charge cable when it's plugged in there, it could damage the port or cable much more than if they were on the front. Another feature we used to have that is mysteriously absent is a recent players list. Just finished a game with someone not on your friend list? Good luck sending them an invite, message, or viewing their gamertag in any way; there is no longer a way to see a list of people you just played with. All hope is not lost though, most of these issues can be resolved in a future system software update, if Microsoft chooses. Some of them will require waiting for a console redesign though, such as swappable hard drives and front USB ports.
*What I'm neutral about:*
[*] The Kinect: Luckily, you aren't required to even have this plugged in so it's not a big deal. But you are forced to buy it with your console anyway, so you might as well find out what it has to offer. Unlike the Xbox 360 Kinect, this one does not scan vertically or self-adjust. The initial setup has an on-screen meter to tell you when the Kinect is pivoted to the perfect vertical angle. Kinect's voice commands are *kind of* cool, but I'm still more of a controller person. I prefer to navigate with my fingers than with my body or voice. I'm glad they made the new Kinect look a little bit neater than the 360's Kinect though. It does have a very much improved camera though. Skype calls with the Kinect are awesome (though outside of the novelty & testing factors, I probably won't use Skype that much). When the full version of Kinect Sports Rivals, and other games designed specifically for Kinect are released, I will probably see more of the value it offers. But for now: eh.
[*] The console's physical design: It actually looks very nice to me. But it does have a small amount of boring-ness to it. It's just a big black box, basically. The key will be to keep the glossy part free of scratches and dust. Glossy consoles are notorious for aging much worse than matte consoles. It's also quite a bit bigger than the Xbox 360 redesigns (but on par with the launch Xbox & Xbox 360 sizes). But I do have to say, I am very glad they are taking precautions to avoid the overheating issues of the launch 360s. The giant cooling heatsink/fan inside, and ample ventilation room inside this ominous monolith, will make it much more reliable and less susceptible to failure; an acceptable trade-off in my mind. I'm sure down the line there will be a smaller version of it. But I didn't want to wait 3-4 years to get it.
*Xbox One vs. PlayStation 4 vs. Wii U*:
It's hard to really compare these in a fair way, because I think all three of them were built for a slightly different audience, and for different purposes. But everyone wants them to be compared anyway, so here I go. So far, I have gotten more mileage out of my Wii U than anything else. But this is simply because Nintendo has had an extra year to come out with some pretty good first-party titles. Its large touch-screen controller is another gimmick as the motion controllers were on the Wii, but many games do manage to use it in a very good way. I would put the Wii U's game library in 1st place compared to the other two consoles, which both have pretty mediocre launch libraries. But again, Wii U had the head start, and in a few years I'm sure all three consoles will have a plethora of great games to choose from. On the other hand, the Wii U gets last place in terms of power/graphics. Most of the games I play are cartooney Nintendo games, so graphical prowess honestly doesn't matter that much. But I have never and will never buy a first-person shooter or multi-platform release on the Wii U, because in those games, awesome graphics can really improve the experience. And the Wii U simply can't compare to the PS4/Xbox One in terms of raw power. Price-wise, obviously the Xbox One gets last place since it costs the most. The PS4 is the most true-to-form gaming console of the three. Hardcore gamers may not find much enjoyment in Nintendo's family-friendly Mario-type games, and the Xbox One was clearly developed with the hope of taking over your cable box and being a big media center instead of just a gaming console. The PS4, like the PS3, has a lot of media capabilities and video streaming apps and so forth, but it was primarily developed primarily to play games. I do have to say, I really like the new controllers on all 3 systems. I would personally give the Xbox One's controller the title of "best", but the Dual Shock 3 and Wii U Pro controllers are also both very good. Nintendo basically copied the Xbox controller on that (other than right thumbstick placement) which is probably why I like it so much. All three consoles are great, honestly. But I don't think you can say one is the best or worst, as they all have very different strengths and weaknesses. I usually just end up getting every console so I don't have to worry about engaging in fanboy "which is better" arguments. But if I could only afford one, I would probably buy the Xbox One due to its *FUTURE* game library (huge Halo fan), and also because, of the three, it easily has the best online multiplayer experience. But if I could only have one console right this second, it would be the Wii U since as of right now, it has the most games worth playing.
*The Bottom Line*:
The Xbox One is a great console with great potential, but as with most launch consoles, the games just aren't quite there to back it up, YET. If you are waiting to get an Xbox One because you're unsure of the game library, you are probably justified in continuing to wait. I honestly just got it because I knew for sure I would eventually get it anyway when Halo 5 comes out. But it the price is holding you back, you may have to wait YEARS for this to become affordable. So if you are okay waiting that long, great. But otherwise you might as well get it now so you can actually use it while you wait for the game library to improve. If you are on the fence over the console because of the 360's launch reliability, I would honestly not let that hold you back on this one since Microsoft learned a very painful & expensive lesson from that, and designed a much more reliable console this time around. Chances are, there won't be any price cuts on it for at least a couple years, and the price cuts aren't usually anything significant until around 4-5 years after launch. So if you have the patience (I didn't), definitely wait. But since I am 98.4% sure the price will still be $499 when Halo 5 comes out, I figured I may as well get it now along with the extra pre-order perks.
A solid system; I definitely do not regret my purchase. 4.5 stars.
I've developed a few more thoughts after a couple extra weeks of use. First of all, I got my Killer Instinct milestone of 6000 minutes in Practice Mode complete. For this, I just loaded Practice Mode and literally left my Xbox One powered on for 6000 minutes straight. If you do the math, that is 100 hours or more than 4 straight days. And not just powered on at the Dashboard or a menu, but in a game where it is constantly displaying animated 3D models and doing millions of calculations per second. My point is, that's a pretty good amount of consecutive time to push the console. A launch 360 would probably have red-ringed from doing that, and it would also power the fans so loud you wouldn't be able to hear anything else in the room. The Xbox One stays ultra quiet and ultra cool. Success.
However, I've become less fond of the way achievements are set up. Simply, it takes a long time to scroll through and read what all the achievements are for a game. Each achievement has a hi-res image associated with it, and instead of a large grid of small icons you can quickly glance over and read descriptions for like the 360 had, you have only a few achievements on the screen at a time, and it is quite slow to scroll through, have it download the images and descriptions, and read them all. I hope they improve this experience in future dashboard versions.
One good/bad/neutral (depending on how you look at it) finding is how to invite a friend to a game. It took both me and my friend quite some time to figure out how to even invite each other into a multiplayer game. Coming from the Xbox 360, it is not intuitive at all. There is no "Invite Friend" option. You have to be in the same Xbox Live party, then start a private game, then it automatically tells the other person in the party that a game is ready, and they can choose to join it at that point. It was kind of annoying at first, but hopefully once you understand how it works, it may be quicker than the old way of doing it.
I've ran into a few more very minor disappointments relating to features the Xbox One doesn't have that the PS3/360 did have. You can read about this under the "Two steps forward, one step backwards" paragraph.
My initial impression of the Kinect was mixed, but after you get over the awkwardness of talking to your Xbox, you can really get some good use out of it. I think game-wise, the best way (for now) to see what the Kinect can offer are the full body motion games like the free Xbox Fitness app, and Dance Central 2014. You can even just view what the Kinect sees by looking for the "What else does Kinect see?" option in your settings menu. It's really cool to see the infrared view, distance-metered view, along with the standard HD view. But for me, the best use of the Kinect, is to no longer need to search for the controller in the dark when watching a movie. "Xbox Pause" and "Xbox Play" commands have gotten a lot of use!
As I predicted, Microsoft has addressed many of the shortcomings I mentioned through their February and upcoming March system updates. They have added the should-have-been-included-from-the-start feature to manage your hard drive's contents and see how much free space is available. They added a controller battery level monitor icon on the dashboard. March's update will be improving party chat and adding a recent players list that I mentioned was a last-gen feature mysteriously absent from this console. However, I am still (im)patiently waiting on 3D Blu-ray support, and USB storage support, among other nitpicks listed in my original review. Hopefully Microsoft keeps listening to user feedback. The updates thus far are promising, but they still have some work to do.
This may be the final helpful tip I have on this review: The new Titanfall Xbox One bundle is the same thing for the same price, but includes a full download of Titanfall, so you should probably plan on purchasing that one instead of this. Enjoy!