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Xbox One: Year One review – How is Microsoft's new console doing one year later?

On November 22, 2013 the Xbox One launched in the US and several other territories. The first new console from Microsoft in 8 years, the One was long overdue. But at launch, the Xbox One faced an uphill battle due to a series of PR blunders, poor pre-leadership from former Xbox chief Don Mattrick (who tellingly departed for Zynga in July that year), and a $100 price disadvantage against its competitor the Playstation 4.

In our comprehensive launch review, I praised the Xbox One as a games and entertainment machine, but criticized its underdeveloped user interface, social features, and other major and minor failings. Luckily, Microsoft has worked hard under new Xbox head Phil Spencer's leadership to improve the Xbox One in the first post-launch year. Now we're back with another massive review that looks at the console's many strides and areas that continue to need improvement.

Born with the Kinect around its neck

Several of the Xbox One's launch issues revolved around the inclusion of the Kinect 2.0, Microsoft's motion tracking peripheral. The new Kinect faced an uphill battle with gamers for numerous reasons.

For starters, Mattrick's Microsoft chose to only make the Xbox One available with the Kinect. You couldn't get a Kinect-less SKU initially. Even though the Xbox One and Playstation 4 have very similar architecture, the One cost $499 at launch, giving the Playstation 4 (which launched at $399) a huge price advantage.

Equally important, most core gamers simply did not want the Kinect and resented its inclusion. The original Kinect on Xbox 360 failed to impress, with only a few quality titles (such as the Dance Central series) to its name. Although the new Kinect boasts significantly improved camera resolution, motion detection, and voice command support, a great many gamers simply don't want to play games with motion controls.

Microsoft tied the Xbox One down with a casual gamer-focused peripheral despite the console's non-casual price and the fact that dedicated gamers tend to be early adopters, not casual ones.

The only possible way the company could have gotten gamers to accept the Kinect's inclusion would have been launching the system with an arsenal of extra-strong Kinect games that would sell players on the device's features. That would make sense, right?

Zumba Fitness World Party

Damningly, Mattrick's regime utterly failed to fast-track Kinect game development for the new console. The system launched without a single first-party Kinect game ( Xbox Fitness is not really a game), and very limited third-party support: Just Dance 2014, Zumba Fitness World Party, and Ubisoft's awful The Fighter Within. If you didn't like Kinect games on the Xbox 360, no way would the Xbox One launch lineup win you over.

It's important to note that a fair number of early Xbox One adopters, including many of our readers, actually do enjoy the Kinect. They praise its voice commands, which make navigating the UI and media playback a unique and pleasurable experience compared to other platforms. It's great that people who gave the Kinect a chance (albeit largely for non-gaming purposes) feel favorably towards it, but they are the minority and couldn't boost the system's sales on their own.

Dance Central Spotlight

Disconnecting the Kinect

When Xbox One sales struggled against the Playstation 4, Microsoft moved surprisingly quickly and started offering Kinect-less Xbox One consoles in June of this year. This was met with gnashing of teeth from early adopters and the Kinect faithful. Heck, we even published an editorial complaining about the decision.

No matter whose hearts had to be broken to do it, making the Kinect an optional purchase was the right call. The Kinect-free Xbox One sells for $399, putting it on par with the Playstation 4 instead of at a disadvantage. And cutting the cord on Kinect has allowed Microsoft to slash the price of the console down to $349 for the holidays, making it an even better deal.

While it's true that developers can no longer count on each Xbox One owner having a Kinect, you have to keep in mind that almost no developers were developing Kinect games in the first place. But the Kinect software situation has slowly and surely picked up since last year's disastrously dry launch.

If you like weird and quirky games, you should own D4.

The following Kinect-intensive games are now available, with a few more indie titles on the way in the future:

  • Dance Central Spotlight: the first must-have Xbox One Kinect game. Includes 10 songs with plenty more to buy.
  • D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die: Although I much prefer D4 with a controller, some folks dig the game's Kinect controls.
  • Fantasia: Music Evolved: A retail Disney-themed music title from Harmonix.
  • Just Dance 2015: The annual retail competitor to Dance Central Spotlight.
  • Kinect Sports Rivals: Hopefully the last misfire from Rare, now that Phil Spencer has changed their course back to core titles.
  • Rabbids Invasion: The Interactive TV Show: I predict this will tank, but kids should enjoy it.
  • Shape Up: A fairly creative fitness game from Ubisoft.

Far from a Kinect utopia, but people who dig motion controls still have a decent range of software to choose from.

Dashboard, snapping, and more: the Xbox One user interface

The Xbox One inexplicably launched with an extremely rough user interface that abandoned many of the Xbox 360's UI strides and innovations. The familiar Guide button menu was gone, the boring black dashboard background couldn't be changed, many common functions like Messages and Settings were difficult to locate without the use of Kinect or required far too many steps to access, and app Snapping was both difficult and limited in usefulness.

On the plus side, the dashboard/home menu is dramatically faster than the Xbox 360 dashboard, and almost entirely free annoying advertisements. The ability to pin games and apps has been a welcome feature since launch, with users' pins following them to other consoles via the cloud.

Microsoft heard the user outcry over the rushed Xbox One UI loudly and clearly, rushing to release an OS update in December 2013 that mostly improved stability. A major update followed in February 2014 which added important features like keyboard support, a controller battery indicator, sorting of games and apps, the ability to delete games, and more. Games and Apps now appear in separate lists, as does the download queue, thank goodness.

Xbox One Snap menu

The Xbox One OS has been updated every month since then, bringing more and more features and UI improvements. Just this month, we finally got the ability to set custom backgrounds. The method of doing so is quite unintuitive at present, but our custom background guide will point you in the right direction.

Snapping apps has also received a major overhaul, with users now able to snap conveniently by double-tapping the Home button on the controller. This brings up the Snap UI from which you can snap or unsnap apps as well as toggle control between the primary and snapped apps. I maintain that the View button on the controller should be assigned to that purpose, but double-tapping Home works well enough.

Pier Solar with Twitch snapped

Despite those numerous advancements (opens in new tab), the Xbox One user interface hasn't been perfected just yet. We still can't jump to a game's Achievements from the Games menu. That should be an option in each game's Menu button-activated context menu. On the plus side, the Achievements app itself deep-links to the recently released TrueAchievements app. You can search for Achievement solutions directly from the main Achievements app, which is handy.

Some things that would be convenient pop-ups on 360 (like messages and Achievements) instead launch as either a snapped or full-screen app on Xbox One... Both usually prove less convenient than the Xbox 360 equivalent. We need the ability to control whether apps launch in snapped mode or not.

Hopefully those refinements and more will come in time. On the whole, Microsoft has done a great job of consistently updating and polishing the Xbox One OS and user interface.

Social features and parties

The Xbox One launched with a few social improvements over its predecessor, most notably the ability to have up to a thousand friends and to follow people who haven't added you to their friends lists. On the other hand, messaging, notifications, and especially parties were all significantly worse than on Xbox 360. So how have things progressed since then?

Happily, social stuff is largely up to snuff nowadays. Users can add friends to a favorites list and get notified when their favorites are online. You can also sort people by friends, favorites, followers, and (thank goodness) recent players. The new Friends Achievements leaderboard on the dashboard is pretty sweet too.

The Friends Feed displays more kinds of data than before and supports the ability to post status updates and comment on items, which is cool. I feel that it still needs more improvement before it becomes truly useful, however. It's still a bit too tucked away and easy to overlook or ignore.

Parties were a wreck at launch, with players often unable to communicate, and constant nags to join the other members' games if you weren't already in their games. The nags at least have been done away with. But it pains me to say that parties still don't work very well.

As recently as a week ago, I and my friends have experienced an issue in which some members of the party are unable to hear party chat or communicate with each other. We tried leaving and rejoining, etc. but sometimes the party app just doesn't want to let members communicate with each other. That is inexcusable, and Microsoft needs to make solving the issue a priority.

Media Player for Xbox One

Media playback

Another place the Xbox One started out behind the 360 is media playback. Streaming videos and music from a computer or other sources was all but impossible at launch. Savvy users had to make use of "Play To" commands on PC since the console itself had no streaming interface. Many forms of media couldn't be played back on the One at all.

The Xbox One is still a bit behind the Xbox 360 as far as streaming goes, but it has made big strides regardless. The Media Player app (released in September 2014 and subsequently updated multiple times) can stream videos, music, and pictures from a PC with speed and relative ease. It can also launch media directly from USB storage devices.

Killer Instinct with Media Player snapped

Media Player still has some room for improvement, which is to be expected. Music and videos can play while snapped, but you have to go full-screen to actually navigate folders and albums. A minor hassle, but many apps haven't been properly optimized for snap mode either. Also, music playback sometimes stops for no reason when it should move on to the next song.

More frustrating for me is the rudimentary MKV support. MKV is a popular video container that combines video, audio, subtitle files into a single file. A single MKV can hold multiple audio and subtitle tracks, instead of making users download or manage multiple files. MKVs are popular in the fansub scene, where translation groups add subtitles to programs that haven't been commercially released in the US or other territories.

Strangely, Media Player can only play MKV files from USB storage. Try to stream an MKV and the app simply won't see the file. Worse, even when playing MKVs from USB, the app doesn't support subtitles. That's the whole point of MKVs, so it might as well not even support them right now. Fingers crossed that Microsoft will improve Media Player's MKV support sooner rather than later.

Xbox One CD Player app

Two areas of media playback in which the Xbox One continues to lag behind the Xbox 360 are CD support and custom soundtracks. CDs can be played from the optional CD Player app, but they can't be ripped to the console's hard drive as on 360.

Nor does the Xbox One support custom soundtracks, a staple feature of the original Xbox and Xbox 360. We can kinda-sorta approximate them by snapping the Media Player or CD Player apps and then turning off an individual game's music. But the snapped app would eat up screen real estate. The music would play even when it shouldn't, such as during cinematic sequences. Custom soundtracks were a great feature, and I hope they make their way to Xbox One someday.

Storage and expansion

The Xbox One launched with a non-upgradable 500 GB internal hard drive, and most models still come equipped with the same size. The recently released Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare console bundle includes a 1 TB hard drive, but it sells for a whopping $100 more than the standard model.

The Xbox One requires all games to be installed to the hard drive before playing. Games are now much larger than in previous generations, with some titles like Halo: The Master Chief Collection taking up as much as 59 GB of storage. Thus Microsoft's decision to launch with and continue to include only a 500 GB drive in most Xbox Ones seems awfully shortsighted. Gamers will run short of room.

External hard drive support was promised but not ready at launch. Luckily, external drive support finally debuted in June. Gamers can connect up to two USB 3.0 external hard drives and choose to install games directly to either drive. Using an external drive actually improves installation and loading times to a small degree, making it an even better option over the internal drive. The Xbox One supports external drives of any size, so the only limited is how much you want to spend on a bigger drive.

Small internal drive aside, the ability to buy and use any USB 3.0 drive you want is extremely convenient and will keep even the most avid Xbox One gamers from running out of storage space in the long term.

We'll have a guide to installing and using an external drive up next week. You can preview the video portion of the guide on YouTube right now.

Nyko Media Remote and Xbox One Media Remote

Controllers and accessories

While we're on the subject of add-ons, let's examine the availability of controllers and accessories for Microsoft's latest console.

The Xbox One launched with a fairly cheap pack-in headset, but since then a lot of superior headset options have become available. The official Xbox One Stereo Headset launched in March alongside the Stereo Headset Adapter. The headset itself is great and comes bundled with the Adapter.

A variety of third-party headsets have launched for Xbox One as well, though they tend towards the pricier end of the spectrum. Like the official headset, they cover both ears and mix both chat and game audio. Most third-party headsets require the separate purchase of the Stereo Headset Adapter, which is an inconvenient (but one-time) additional purchase.

Sadly, Microsoft has yet to release a wireless headset for the Xbox One. The original Xbox 360 wireless headset was fantastic (the later Bluetooth model not so much). We can only hope the big MS gives us the same wireless option before the Xbox One turns two.

Power A Mini Series Controller and Xbox One Wireless Controller

Media playback enthusiasts have several remote controls to choose from. The official Xbox One Media Remote launched alongside the Stereo Headset in March, though supply problems limited its availability for a month or so after that. Third party remotes include the Nyko Media Remote (which I like better than Microsoft's version), as well as universal remotes from Inteset (review coming soon!) and Logitech.

In the realm of controllers, Microsoft has released colored variants for Titanfall, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, and both blue and green camouflage models. If those color choices don't suit you, both Color Ware and Controller Modz offer high quality custom controller designs.

Thrustmaster TX Racing Wheel for Xbox One

Gamers on a budget might want to consider third-party wired controllers. Power A makes both the Mini Series Controller and the Spectra Controller (review coming soon). PDP sells Rock Candy controllers in red, green, and blue (review coming soon).

Fighting game fans can pick up arcade sticks from Mad Catz and Razer, though both options ring up at a whopping $200. Racing enthusiasts have four wheels to choose from: two Thrustmaster Wheels ($99 and ~$299, review coming soon), a $400 Mad Catz wheel, and an $90 Hori wheel.

None of those third-party controllers, sticks, or wheels offers headset support. This appears to be a limitation imposed by Microsoft, not a cost cutting measure from the accessory manufacturers. Microsoft is seriously limiting the appeal of third-party products by preventing them from offering the basic and important option to support headsets. That said, players can work around the issue by chatting from an extra first-party controller (yes, it works).

Forza Horizon 2

Actually, it's all about the games

User interfaces, media playback, social features, and accessories: none of these would matter without games. The pre-launch leadership failed to appreciate that the Xbox One is primarily a gaming machine, poising the console for a rocky start with its core audience. Thankfully, Phil Spencer's regime has done its best to course correct since launch.

This year, the Xbox One has arguably bested the Playstation 4 in the all-important area of retail exclusives. The PS4's AAA exclusives of 2014 include: Infamous: Second Son, The Last of Us Remastered, Driveclub, and LittleBigPlanet 3. The Xbox One's Titanfall, Forza Horizon 2, Sunset Overdrive, and Halo: the Master Chief Collection. This year's Halo is a knockout for first-person shooter players, though its online mode didn't work at launch and still has some issues a few weeks later (not unlike Driveclub, which suffered broken multiplayer for weeks as well).

Halo: The Master Chief Collection

The Xbox One's retail launch lineup was quite strong as well, with Dead Rising 3, Forza Motorsport 5, and Ryse: Son of Rome each proving to be strong exclusives. All three have recently been bundled with their downloadable content as Game of the Year Editions, extending their shelf life.

Third-party retail support is going strong for Xbox One as well. Grand Theft Auto V, Dragon Age: Inquisition, The Evil Within, and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare are just a few of the AAA third party titles that arrived on Microsoft's console (as well as Sony's) this fall.

GTAV (Image credit: Windows Central)

Grand Theft Auto V for Xbox One

Every domestically released retail Xbox One game is also available as a digital purchase. Digital versions of retail games tend to retain their original prices even as retail versions drop in prices. They can't be resold, so you're generally stuck with them whether you like them or not.

Yet gamers who tend not to trade or sell their games (like me) will find the convenience of buying from anywhere and being able to play games without inserting discs worth the trade off. Digital preorders with preloading and preorder bonuses (all instituted fairly recently) make skipping retail an even more attractive option.

Never Alone

Downloadable games aplenty

Speaking of downloadable games, the anemic selection of digital-exclusive games at launch ( Crimson Dragon, Killer Instinct, LocoCycle, and Powerstar Golf) left many gamers wanting more. Since then, downloadable games have increased exponentially. Peggle 2 and Max: The Curse of Brotherhood were early standout titles. Minecraft: Xbox One Edition, D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die, and Dance Central Spotlight have also proven to be big-name must-haves.

Pure Pool

The downloadable floodgates really opened when the ID@Xbox program (headed by Chris Charla) finally allowed indie developers to self-publish their Xbox One games. The first couple of ID@Xbox games (Strike Suit Zero and Nutjitsu) were nothing special, but so many special games have turned up since then.

Here's a small sampling of top-shelf ID@Xbox One games:

  • 1001 Spikes: A retro-style platformer with local co-op and multiplayer
  • Contrast: A 3D platformer built around a world of living shadows
  • Fibbage: A brilliant party game played with smartphones and tablets
  • Guacamelee: A Metroidvania-style platformer with local co-op themed after the Day of the Dead
  • Jackbox Party Pack: A collection of five great party games, including an enhanced version of Fibbage
  • Never Alone: A beautiful and smart puzzle platformer with local co-op
  • Outlast: A dark and gruesome horror game
  • Pier Solar: A retro-style JRPG
  • Pinball FX2: the ultimate pinball platform includes one free table, with more available to purchase
  • Pure Pool: The best pool game on consoles
  • Warframe: A free-to-play alternative to Destiny

The Xbox One already has a fantastic lineup of games, and it will only continue to grow over time.

Warframe

The time to buy is now

The Xbox One has come a long way since November of 2013. The user interface, media playback functions, and social features have improved by leaps and bounds over the last year. Each of these areas still has room for improvement though, especially party chat. But the competition has just as much to grow, and Sony hasn't pumped out updates and new features with nearly as much regularity as Microsoft.

Phil Spencer and team made the tough choice to stop bundling the Kinect with the Xbox One – a choice that was absolutely necessary for the console's continued survival. Anybody who wants a Kinect can pick one up for $150, or grab the Xbox One Assassin's Creed Kinect bundle for $449.

Three Kinect-less Xbox One bundles are available to purchase this holiday season: the white Xbox One with Sunset Overdrive, the silver and gold Xbox One with Call of Duty and a 1TB hard drive, and the black Xbox One with Assassin's Creed IV and Unity. Each of these represents a superior value for gamers, especially with the $50 price drop that most retailers are currently offering.

Most importantly, the Xbox One is a fantastic gaming machine. As development tools improve, Microsoft and other developers continue to narrow the gap in performance between the Xbox One and Playstation 4. More and more games achieve the 1080p resolution and 60 frames-per-second benchmark that stat-obsessed gamers (much more than the general masses) crave.

This year, Xbox One owners can choose from a highly competitive assortment of AAA exclusive games, including Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Forza Horizon 2, Sunset Overdrive, Titanfall, and "Game of the Year Editions" of last year's big launch games. Throw in third-party retail games and the ever-growing lineup of ID@Xbox games and the Xbox One already has more than enough games to keep players busy throughout the next year of the console's life.

If you're looking for a new-gen console gaming experience and you enjoy the Microsoft and Xbox Live ecosystems, now is a great time to jump in with Xbox One. Amazon shoppers can support Windows Central by ordering any of the holiday bundles from the links below:

Paul Acevedo is the Games Editor at Windows Central. A lifelong gamer, he has written about videogames for over 15 years and reviewed over 350 games for our site. Follow him on Twitter @PaulRAcevedo. Don’t hate. Appreciate!

72 Comments
  • Xbox or PlayStation sells well??
  • Both sell well lol
  • Was that a question, or a statement?
  • Do you mean which one sells better?
  • Both are outselling their predecessors. Which is amazing when you consider Xbox 360 had a year of no competition and yet Xbox One is still selling better even with the "negative" press.
  • Im loving my xbox one. They have really good exclusives (sunset overdrive is my favorite). The only thing Im hoping is for 343 to complety fix the multiplayer for Halo. Other than that Im a proud xbox one owner. I also have the PS4 but to be honest I rather have the wii u instead of the ps4,because I love mario games and mario kart :P
  • Wii U is my next purchase. The new Zelda game coming next yr looks insane.
  • Omg right? I want that new Zelda game so bad! That game alone will be reason to buy a Wii U.
  • Yup! Its the only reason I'm buying one lol
  • Love Mario, too ;P
  • Nintendo will always have a place in my heart simply because of Mario and Zelda (Link) ;) good call!
  • "Mash their teeth" tehehehe...
  • It should actually be 'gnashing of teeth' ...
  • Wow... The 360 has many features which are absent in the One.
  • Xbox all day!
  • ...hands down...
  • It's a little embarrassing that a big company like MS can release this and do so much beginners mistakes at launch. Clearly they were not ready. Hope they do it better next time.
  • They rushed each other, MS and Sony. PS4 is also missing number of features that PS3 has for quite some time now. Arguably one can say that you cannot expect new machine to have all the features as machine being developed and updated for 8 years now, but I think this argument is false. From that point of view, Windows 7 and 8 should be missing many features Windows XP had.
  • Xbox One for me I cant fault it with the recent updates etc and more to come in the future I can only see it get better and better!
  • Very informative article, thank you! I'm actually happy I waited a year while all the enhancements came in for the console. Looking forward to my Xbox One console coming under my tree later ;) yay
  • Paul, I've tried to message you, but you haven't been answering. I know I've played more than 50 missions/matches in Halo:TMCC, but I have no idea if clans are unlocked. How do I find the setting?
  • @Jas00555    I can help with the Clan Tag issue. From the main screen go to multiplayer>Find Match>(Select any gametype and start searching for a map)>Hit the start button on the controller>Select Profile( I think its called profile I can't remember but I know its the box with Master Chief's helmet)> Tab over to the Clan Tag area> Create your Tag>Go back to matchmaking screen>Look above your gamertag if it still says UNSC then it didn't work/isn't unlocked/ if you see whatever your created aka ODST(my clan) then it worked. If you have any other questions just msg me Gamertag: pwn3d gunner
  • Thank you!
  • I only had mine for a month, but I love it
  • I hate that most games went away from local multiplayer. People still come to my house.
  • This!
  • aaahahahha... :-D
  • Also, PLEASE tell me you weren't actually trying to make a ridiculous jab at gamergate with the "Actually, it's all about the games" header.
  • I took it as a jab at the idea the Xbox One should focus on other forms of media first and games second
  • It's a meme now. By utilizing the phrase for humor, we take some power away from the hatefulness that spawned it. Not that I used the exact phrase.
  • It does the exact opposite of that. By making fun of it and putting it down, you're giving them another reason to continue fighting. If you disagree with them, the proper way to deal with them is by not acknowledging it at all by not talking about it. Similar to how you're suppose to treat trolls. By making fun of them, you're giving them more power. Just my $.02 anyways.
  • I respect your opinion of course, but I disagree. Ignoring hate groups and hoping they go away absolutely does not work; it allows them to grow. If you have a chance, read this story for a decent explanation of my thinking on how to deal with such as them: How Superman Defeated The Ku Klux Klan
  • The One is hard to judge, as an owner of seven months. Halo has been a travesty, to put it nicely. When your flagship franchise is such a buggy mess, the console as a whole looks bad. However, Sunset Overdrive is a fantastic exclusive (though short), while the Forza name continues to curb it great sim and open-world racing options. I don't regret my console choice, but the Kinect feels like a little bit of a waste, given the disconnect from the bundle and the price drops.
  • I've had both next gen consoles and there isn't much between the 2 in performance. I gave my ps4 bk as it sounded like a hairdryer when playing some games. Loving the x1 even though all my friend have the ps4.
  • Thanks Paul. Actually saw a few things you mentioned I was curious about but hadn't checked yet. Been to busy trying to familiarize myself the past week with Halo so I can take you guys down, ha!
  • Microsoft has to stop bringing there exclusives to PC
    And should include battery pack instead of including AA Batteries
  • +One! I really hate the Xbox One rechargeable solution. Especially since the controller is paired via you Kinect login. On the 360, it was very simple. Battery low, just pull one off your charging stand and swap it. Reconnect, and you are good to go. On the One, if your batter is low, you have swap you controller if you are too far away for the USB cable length. And if you do swap. you have save your game, exit it, depair your controller, then sign in with your new controller. It's horrible!
  • Ok ok I think I deserved it, I don't own any console game, but the Xbox one has gone a long way this year, however it's price is still too high where I live
  • Good article. I agree with most of it. My largest complaint to date is also regarding having no ability to create custom soundtracks or play music while gaming. I miss that feature greatly. Other little bugs and glitches do hinder my experiences from time to time as well. I have a friend who bought PS4 then bought a Xbone just because he knew I wasn't going PS4. So when we play on Xbone he constantly complains about how sh*t Xbone is anytime we run into party glitches, online gaming connectivity issues or other random bugs. I'd like to think PS4 has their own share or bugs, glitches or issues but I don't own one yet so I can't say.
  • Whooo Paul what an article from today I am a big fan of yours , common dan start writing some articles weekend is over
  • Was just on vgchartz.com and apparently the PS4 has sold 14 million while the Xbox has only sold 7.5 million. That's a bigger difference than I thought there would be.
  • By the half of november Sony officially shipped 13,5mln of ps4, Msft 10mln of Xbox one. So those numbers are officially wrong.
  • Hey everyone, I bought a Xbox one controller some weeks ago, and I'd like to know about its durability. Is the controller resistant or is it fragile? I play some games like mirror's edge and battlefield, and I have a little brother that plays mortal combat, I'd like to know if the controller is resistant enough to take care of the job or if the buttons break easily
  • Been playing like crazy with mine on Halo and Killer Instinct and seems pretty solid so far.
  • Oh great! I was worried that it could break easily, it was expensive to me
  • This does not make me want to go out and buy an xb1......
  • Paul, this is thorough. Nicely done sir. And damn, that's a lotta pins!
  • One big glaring omission: Smartglass.
  • Ding, ding, ding. You just found the "Daily Double!" I was looking for it to be mentioned too. I use it constantly, everyday.
  • It certainly has improved but there is still a long way to go. One of my biggest gripes with the console is that everything loads so slowly. That and the complete lack of networkability when it comes to viewing files, play to is great from my surface when I'm sitting in front of my xbox, but good luck having an enjoyable experience from a desktop PC that isn't placed next to your entertainment system. The UI does become s lot better once Kinect is properly utilised but it still occasionally decides not to understand me at times, sometimes friends are amazed at my barking orders at the tv and other times it's laughable when it hears the wrong thing, or nothing at all.
  • The update this month, or last month (I forget), finally gave us a media player with DLNA support. The only problem with it? You have to snap the ap. You can't run it in the background and play your game in full screen....but it's a start I suppose.
  • I can't believe I waited a year, just hooking it up with my 10 year old now. Probably couldn't do it without her.
  • I live my Xbox one!
  • If you buy one, get it was the kinect.  The voice and hand recognition features are fantastic, as well as the other perks the Kinect brings.  And this is from someone who was very apprehensive in getting a XBOne with kinect.
  • Agreed. I'll never buy a non-Kinect console ever again. There is just no going back. The extra features (voice commands, gesture navigation, IR blaster, instant on, Skype, Twitch streaming, facial recognition sign-in, etc.) and the greater variety of games (Fantasia, Dance Central, Dark Dreams Don't Die, Kinect Sports Rivals, and Xbox Fitness, in particular, plus the upcoming ID@Xbox games like Fru) make it well worth the extra $100. And that's my biggest frustration with the Xbox One so far. As Paul noted, Microsoft did not have the proper Kinect games available at launch to justify it's bundling. I was disappointed that they unbundled it, but I accept it as a necessary strategy. What I don't accept is how Microsoft has seemingly completely abandoned the peripheral since then: no mention of it on-stage at E3 or Gamescom or TGS. No commercials or publicity when it launched as a standalone product in October (in fact, it seems most stores aren't even carrying it), and not being included in the majority of Xbox One game bundles (Madden 15, Sunset Overdrive, Call of Duty). Again, I have no problem with them decoupling the peripheral and giving consumers choice, but that doesn't mean they should pretend the device doesn't exist. I still believe that it is one of the best things the Xbox One has over the PS4 as a differentiator. Without it, those two systems are almost the same (just slightly different shades of boring). Xbox One with Kinect is ambitious and it could attract many niche and casual gamers. When I showed my family Skype on there, dancing in Dance Central Spotlight, composing in Fantasia, bowling in Kinect Sports Rivals, etc. they were all intrigued by it and none of them even know those things were possible because there hasn't been hardly any publicity or advertising for those features. It vexes me to no end to see Harmonix, Ubisoft, and Access Games make such great Kinect games and receive almost no promotion from Microsoft for it. Fantasia, especially, is, by far, my favorite game of the year. It's fun, unique, and groundbreaking, but we'll never get another such innovative Kinect title because it's not selling well because it's not getting promoted.
  • Yep. Kinect is the way to go. The voice commands alone are worth it.
  • I do agree to a point. I love walking in to my room and say "Xbox On" and everything turns on. But, voice control is spotty at best. I gave up on voice command to change channels and pretty much rely on my trusty old remote. I think it has potential though, so I'm not willing to give up on Kinect though. Kinect integration has been spotty with the studios, and the implementation has been cheesy at best so for. But, I'm anxiously awaiting Cortanna. I think that will be a game changer. I dream about getting up in the morning and say "Cortana On", "Cortana, watch NBC", "Cortana, what is my schedule?" "Cortana, how long will it take me to get to work?" And I would love to tell my Xbox, "Cortana, remind me to pick up some Iced Tea after work tonight", and then when I leave work, my Window's phone chines in "Pick up some Ice Tea". Microsoft is getting there, I just can't wait for it!
  • I would argue with this sentiment: "As development tools improve, Microsoft and other developers continue to narrow the gap in performance between the Xbox One and Playstation 4". It sounds very wishful... but. If you look at real difference between hardware, I think it is very fanboyish to expect that smarter programming will cover for raw power deficit. Plus, as MS improves their SDK, so does Sony. MS exclusives will, I have no doubt, be razor-sharp optimised and look great... but for multiplatforms in this generation, we will see better visuals on Sony side, on average. I really don't see a way around it, especially when the games start maxing out consoles' capabilities. If you google for "Ubisoft GPU benchmark", you will see results that canot be balanced with software. But I don't even see the reason to stress about it - so far, visuals were not the defining factor in any console's success. Nintendo 64 was superior to original Playstation, and nowhere as successful. PS2 was visually outperformed by original Xbox and was still runaway success. Wii was way below X360 and PS3 and was the best selling console of last gen. Eventually, graphics capability is only one of many fields to tick in the big picture.
  • That's why I said narrow and not close or eliminate. But Xbox One versions are catching up, so that the differences are less severe than in some early titles.
  • Interesting read. I have to be in the 1%; I'm interested in the Xbox One as much (or more) as an extension to my computer and phone as I am in gaming. I enjoy the occasional game, but it's hard to justify the cost for as little as I play. To be able to Skype calls with my nephew, or pull up social feeds, fire up Netflix, mirror/extend my desktop onto the screen - bonus for voice - would all be great. And then there's the potential for Cortana on Xbox. Of course, I have to make sure it can *do* all of that first. :) Still watching, still waiting.
  • Love my X1. Is it perfect no there are still features missing that i would like added. With all the updates Xbox has been doing they'll come. One if my biggest wants in the app department is Pandora.
  • One thing you forgot to mention is that physical retailers also tend to throw in additional games with the console bundles while maintaining the same price which makes the bundles better value overall. The various bundles vary from retailer to retailer. Posted via the Windows Phone Central App for Android
  • Paul- excellent article chronicling the XB1's strengths and weaknesses. Now, I bought a Surface RT the day after it came out. This is something I never do, and have regretted it in many ways, and am glad I waited a year for the XBOne(just grabbed the Sunset bundle + a Kinect). A couple of thoughts would be that wven though I've been playing since Atari 2600 days, I actually bought this machine over the PS4(I've only owned Sony game machines until now) because of all the other features + plus great integration with all the MS stuff I already use FIRST, and as a game machine second. Also, I'm surprised you didn't mention the fact that the wireless controller does not include a baked-in or swappable rechargeable battery. I find this annoying as I have burned through sets of AA's in 3 weeks. There may be a rechargeable battery I don't know about, but even still, I shouldn't have to buy it separately. My PS3, which has this, still works great after nearly 4 years and I love that. The XBOne controller/battery situation is disappointing at best.
    Thanks, Doc
  • Thanks for reading! I discussed the controller in detail in the original launch review, which is why I didn't touch on it in this review. Didn't wanna retread the same ground. However, I disagree that swappable batteries is a bad thing. What you should do is either get a Play and Charge kit (Microsoft or third-party), or invest in rechargeable batteries (Eneloops are the best). One pack of rechargeables and a charger will set you back $20-30 but you're set pretty much for the life of the console. And that charger will save you a lot of money in the long run as long as you start using rechargeables on everything instead of disposables. The advantage of buying your own rechargeables is that you can swap the batteries out as soon as they run dry without having to plug in and/or charge the controller. Also, all rechargeables eventually stop holding a charge very well. With batteries that you can change, you're not stuck with a controller that simply can't hold a charge well any more. Mail client would be cool!
  • I would also love to see a mail client. I thought it had one already and would love to check email with voice control in the morning. The voice control is so nice. And cool.
  • As a day 1 Xbox Owner, to summarize I find the Xbox One disappointing.  I disagree with Paul that this was a long needed update.  To me, both the PS4 and One seemed rushed, and neither were needed last year.  I really don't want to sound overly negative, I actually haven't turned on the 360 for gaming since I got the One, it's more disappointment on what it could have been, but probably eventually will be. Controller:  The 360 controller is more comfortable and intuitive.  The bumpers are harder to use and the intuitive left and right arrows have been replaced by 2 squares and a hamburger.  One the plus side, the batteries last forever and I like the idea of updatable firmware for the controller / accessories. Console: I love the looks of this thing, and it's silent and has tandard ports out the back.  No complaints here. UI/OS: Trainwreck.  It is getting better, but the decision to force the Kinect has left elements of the experience orphaned, things like "xbox record that" requires a double-tap of the Guide button.  Almost everything is more difficult on the One, or missing completely. Achievements / Activity is it's own island and doesn't show up with 360, Windows, and Windows Phone achievements.  No Media Center client.  Finally a silent Xbox, yet I still have to have my 360 hooked up.  I was able to replace my Bluray player, I could have a really simple setup, but instead I have both the 360 and One hooked up.  It's almost a crime since this is completely in Microsoft's hands. I got the console for Forza 5, IMO Forza 5 was a big FU to the Forza base.  Less cars, less tracks, no support for the wheels ($300+), broken marketplace for months, still buggy to this day. There's NO way they had the sharing features Mattrick talked about ready, but I'm really hoping that they will release a less restrictive version of family sharing for digital content.  I don't need a solution for disks, I can put the disk in the other Xbox today, no problems.  
  • Connects a Windows phone 8 to Xbox one via USB, loads up the media app, *connect an device to Xbox one* Seriously MS, this is what you give after one year later. I expect alot better MS. Glad I didn't spend money on Xbox One.
  • I love my XB1. I fell for the PS4 hype multiple times with the whole resolutiongate fiasco but realised that the Xbox as all I want and more, the exclusives I was exited for (Killer Instinct, titanfall, Forza, Sunset Overdrive, Halo 5, Quantum Break etc) the controller layout is more my liking and the features that I enjoy. Snap is a must have now for me and the Kinect is really good if you familiarize yourself for it.    Both consoles are great but as of now, thre XB1 has overall the best value: price, games and features (all opinion based of course)
  • I'm still having a very difficult time with the Media Player - it never seems to be able to find my files. As a work around I've been using Plex as a media extender, but I'd like to be able to natively access my videos and music directly from my PC without a third party application. Media Player sees my computer but all the folders are empty.
  • I'm using mine more these days saving the universe one Halo at a time!!!!!!!!!!!
  • And I really like the Xbox Music app on the Xbox One as you can set it to play the music video of a matched song you have.... so cooooool!!!!!!!!!!!!
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