In case you haven’t been paying attention this month, the next-gen is here now. PS4 launched two weeks ago and the Xbox One dropped on this past Friday. I was fortunate enough to get an Xbox One Day One Edition on Friday, but I made the decision to save some money for now and not pick up a game at the same time. I mean, I do still have a perfectly good Xbox 360 with a ton of great games to play. I did feel that, as someone who wants to make a living writing and reporting and discussing video games, it was important to get one of the next-gen consoles early, and I’ve become a bit more loyal to the Xbox brand over the last 7 years or so.
And that’s where we get to Friday – opening up that black box and pulling out all the different components. Now, I don’t have a cable box in my room with the consoles, at least not at this time, so I don’t get the 100% experience with the Live TV functionality, but I think that’s a little part. After I got the Xbone all set up, I set out to exploring the new dashboard and features. This is the first Kinect I’ve personally owned, so I was hesitant that it would even be able to work in my small space, but it picked me up right away. Thank God for that, because the voice commands that the Xbox One has are one of my favorite features of the new console. I was skeptical at first that the recognition would be a little spotty, but all through the weekend I haven’t had any issues. It works well, and it works quickly – the apps I tell it to launch are open much quicker than on my 360, which could honestly be due to the 360 hard drive being much more filled. In general, the Xbox One is much faster than the 360, which not only makes sense, but fits with what people had been saying pre-launch.
Snapping apps is a really cool feature too – letting me play a game and have my Monday Night Football on screen at the same time is really awesome. Going forward, as they add more snappable apps, the feature will grow and become, at least I think, a really integral part of the console. Same thing with the quick minimize to home – being able to quickly go home is really neat, better still without closing the app in use. Little things like face recognition too so my Gamertag is linked to my actual face is really nice.
In terms of games – I like that the option to buy any of the launch titles digitally is there, but I wonder how steady that will go (Day one digital as well as physical). The one game I’ve been able to actually play is Killer Instinct, since you can get the game with one character for free. I’m enjoying it actually – I’m not a huge fighting games fan, since I tend to not be great at them, but I do like the look of the game, and the speed of it – it needs a bit more content, but even buying it, it isn’t a full $60 title, so they knew that. Hopefully soon I’ll be able to play a true next-gen game, I’m leaning towards Battlefield 4 for now – the game clips people have posted on the Xbox One itself look so much better than the 360 Beta I played. I will probably also pick up LEGO Marvel and Forza 5 as well, and check out the next-genness of them.
One other thing that I think bears mentioning is the redesigned controller. While the general feel and layout are the same as the 360 controller, the actual feel is a lot different. The larger triggers pull much smoother than the old controller, and the bigger shoulder buttons should be much easier to press in the heat of a game, with less sticking as time goes on as well. The analog sticks feel much more responsive, with no sticking at all and the nubbing on the sticks is a nice little touch. Clicking in the sticks is now a much more direct action, I don’t see it happening by accident, unless you have the stiffest movements ever. Same thing with the new D-Pad – making each direction an actual switch makes the d-pad that much more responsive. Overall, the controller is a huge improvement over the 360’s.
Overall, the Xbox One does exactly what they said it would – brings all of my entertainment into one box. I love the sports apps, I like being able to watch Twitch streams or YouTube videos with a quick command, and it’s clear going forward that they will be adding snapable apps for Twitter and Facebook. It’s the little things that make a console succeed, and so far at least, I’ve been impressed with all the little things the Xbox One does. It’s quiet, sleek, cool, powerful and I am very happy with it so far. Hopefully it has a lifespan similar to the 360.