Sections

Xbox One: now it’s out, how does it handle in the wild? – opinion

Saturday, 23rd November 2013 10:20 GMT By Dave Cook

Xbox One has now come out of its pre-release state and is fully online. VG247′s Dave Cook recounts his experience with the console’s first 24-hours since launch.

I’ve been playing Xbox One at home for a week now, and while I gave my initial impressions and unboxing thoughts here, the console wasn’t entirely ‘market-ready.’ The store wasn’t fully turned on, the adverts were missing and many apps simple weren’t there. But now that the console is out, I’ve been able to give a fairer appraisal of what it can do.

So, just like Phil did with his PS4 in the States, I’ve decided to give you a deeper and more accurate portrayal of what it’s like to use and experience Xbox One in the comfort of your own home, and out of a press event environment.

The unit itself chunky but light, coming in at about about a quarter wider than PS4. The bodywork consists mostly of cooling vents, which is a positive step towards eliminating any potential heat sink issues. I’ve read a few reports that suggest Xbox One is a loud machine, but it really isn’t that bad. It makes more noise when installing games or streaming high volumes of data from discs sure, but otherwise it’s nothing out of the ordinary. You’ll barely notice it over the sound of your games, that’s for sure.

The Xbox One boots up quick, and is a vast improvement from the increasingly slow process used on Xbox 360. On the old machine, it now takes me over a minute to log-in thanks to all the licenses tethered to my account, but with Xbox One, I’m logged in and ready to go on the dash within moments. If you set up Kinect facial recognition, you will log-in to your account automatically. It really does work. I even get a little ‘Hello Dave!’ message when the interface loads too.

The interface is influenced by Windows 8′s tile-based design, and you are free to customise the colour of your home panels. I’ve gone for a firebrand red colour, which also appears on my achievement and message pop-ups. The UI layout can also be re-arranged slightly using Pins. If you hover over an app, game or tile on the dash, you can then hit the menu button (the one that used to be ‘Start’ on Xbox 360) to bring up a secondary menu. From there you can select ‘Pin to Home’ to move your favourite apps, games or menus to your personalised Pins page. Consider it your bookmark or shortcut view, if you will.

Apps weren’t available in full last week, but now I’ve since downloaded Netflix and pinned it to my personalised menu. It runs just as it did on Xbox 360, except now it boots up a hell of a lot quicker, and with a more ‘Xbox-friendly’ presentation that follows the Windows 8 model. I’ve also downloaded YouTube, Twitch and Skype, but Hulu Plus, FOX Now, SkyDrive, Uplay, Xbox Music, Xbox Video and Machinima were also available. I would absolutely love a Spotify app, but don’t see it happening.

Opening apps and games is interesting. I was a bit puzzled as to how menus stack once they’re opened, but now I understand that it follows a smartphone approach. For example, say you open your Achievement history, Skype and Killer Instinct in that order. They’ll each stack in the dashboard’s main activity panel. They’ll remain open until you close them. It’s just like multi-tasking on your mobile. In this case I’d simply hover over Killer Instinct in the activity panel, press ‘menu’, and hit quit. Now Skype would appear in my activity panel. Once that’s closed the panel would then display my achievements feed and so on.

The ‘Games and Apps’ tile is perhaps your most common port of call. It shows your friend list activity in an almost Twitter format. It’s just a long list of people logging into games, unlocking achievements, sharing gameplay clips and more. The friends list is now capped at 1000 gamertags. You may think that’s a stupidly high amount, but considering you can now have followers, instead of friends, it makes perfect sense. Friends are people you add to play games and converse with. Followers simply follow your activity and videos. So if you’re a YouTube personality who wants fans to watch your clips, this is an ideal format.

On that note, I went into Killer Instinct to try out some net play. I have to admit, I really do like this game so far. It’s got one of the best tutorials in a fighting game I’ve ever experienced. It teaches you about cross-over attacks, frames, cool-down, punish chances and more. It absolutely appeals to both newcomers and seasoned fighters alike. So I hopped into my first ranked match and wiped the floor with a fireball spammer. I felt good about it so I shouted “Xbox, record that” at my Kinect sensor to capture and save the footage.

Clips recorded using this Kinect method are always 30 seconds, but you can capture for five minutes using the manual tool in snap or within the menu button. Clips can then be tweaked and trimmed in the free Upload Editor app, found within the store. So I downloaded it. Using the tool, you can add voice-over commentary, channel skins, or live-action footage using Kinect. I recorded a little commentated clip of my first victory and uploaded it to Xbox One no problem. The audio is a bit fuzzy in the preview pane, but the video is decent enough given how quick the process is.

Once I was happy, I rendered the video and uploaded it to my profile and activity feed for the world to see, not that anyone gave a shit to about my piddling victory, but still, it works fine. I would like the video titles to be a little longer though. Kinect itself is a neat tool now. It picks up my Scottish accent perfectly where the previous sensor did not. You can also use it to navigate menus quicker. You simply start by saying Xbox, and then follow up with key phrases or commands.

So let’s say I’m on the dash and I say ‘Xbox.’ Everything I can interact with using my voice is then highlighted in green. I could say ‘Xbox, go to Achievements,’ to go to my cheevo thread, or ‘Xbox go to Netflix,’ to watch a movie. It’s fine, but even after a week I feel like a plum talking to my telly. Speaking of telly, you can of course, run your TV cable box through your Xbox One’s HDMI in port and snap it to the side of your gameplay, then flick between the two at will. I didn’t try it though as disturbing the balance of wires and connections behind my TV would be like opening the Ark of the Covenant.

I also took in some Forza 5. I’ve been playing this a lot recently, and you can check out my full appraisal blog tomorrow. There were already Drivatars online when I started my career last week, and even then I found them to be a tad irritating. Yes, they do make human errors and make you feel as if you’re racing actual infallible people, but the system is also prone to wreckless driving and troll techniques. I was shunted off the road a few times while cornering to the racing line perfectly, and I saw a lot of corner-cutting. Turn10 has always said that this system will take time to calibrate and mature, so I’ll keep an eye on it.

The game itself is lovely to look at, a true technical show-piece, but it feels like it was made for microtransactions. You can grind the same 14 tracks over and over to earn enough cash to buy the ludicrously priced high-end rides, or simply pay for them with real money credits. There are also paid XP boosters and the like. Forza 5 is a great game, but I’m not so sure about the pared back track list and monetisation efforts. I’m not a serious enough racing fan to dip a hand into my wallet, but I get the feeling others will.

One thing I’ve noticed so far with Xbox One is that the installations take a fair old while. Dead Rising was playable at 43%, while Call of Duty: Ghosts activated at 50% on the nose. I left Forza and Killer Instinct install completely before starting them. This isn’t a sly dig or anything like that because I am sincerely enjoying my Xbox One experience, but I was able to play Killzone: Shadow Fall mere minutes after installation began. It sees you have to wait a bit longer before jumping in on Microsoft’s console. It’s fine, I’m not that impatient. It’s just an observation and nothing more.

So there isn’t a massive selection of games in the Xbox One store, and I still haven’t figured out how to change my profile bio from the dash, I’m definitely enjoying my time with the console so far. I think whatever fears people had of Microsoft not knowing what it was doing have largely been put to bed. I’m yet to play a Kinect-only game, so I may do another appraisal on the sensor once Kinect Sports: Rivals drops. I also haven’t started Ryse yet because of how insane last week was. Dead Rising 3 however, has proven to be my favourite next-gen title so far. Find out why through the link.

In the meantime though, let us know what you make of Xbox One so far, and if you have a question about the console, just ask it below.

Disclosure: to assist in writing this piece, Microsoft sent Dave an Xbox One console, Forza: Motorsport 5, Killer Instinct, Dead Rising 3 and Ryse: Son of Rome.

Breaking news

56 Comments

Sign in to post a comment.

  1. G1GAHURTZ

    Nice writeup, Dave. Thanks.

    Have you got CoDG?

    If you have, do you know if it’s using dedicated servers, or is it still using P2P?

    Also, how is online gaming in general, connection quality wise?

    #1 5 months ago
  2. Joe Anderson

    Everything runs really slow and sluggishly for me, I like Kinect but it does take a while to pick up my voice when I say Xbox, once it does tho the other commands run well. I’ve not figured out how to take screenshots yet, can you do that?

    I think mainly the experience to me feels unfinished, I think the system has potential, but it has a bit to go before it gets there.

    Looking forward to trying out PS4 as I feel it may be a little further forward at this stage.

    #2 5 months ago
  3. Cort

    Is it true that if you are watching TV with the XBox switched off, then say “XBox on”, the console’s IR blaster switches your TV off (because essentially it just hits the TV’s on/off switch)? Or is that a new urban myth?

    How good is the BD playback quality? Does it compare well with dedicated BD players from good quality manufacturers like Sony and Panasonic (and anyone who says all BD players play the same gets a light slap)?

    Does putting TV through the One affect picture or sound quality in any way, particularly for SD broadcasts?

    #3 5 months ago
  4. gomersoul

    Sounds shit to me, glad I’m not getting one. Feel sorry for those that are

    #4 5 months ago
  5. monkeygourmet

    What with the windows tiles and game installations / apps etc… This is almost identical to the PC experience.

    I really dislike what they have done to Forza, although I did see it coming after ‘Horizon’. I can see this model ruining many games this gen and MS very keen to implement it.

    Basically turning the Xbone into a IOS / Android phone type device, only with much larger and more expensive titles.

    #5 5 months ago
  6. locus2k1

    Mine wont turn on anymore :(

    Orange light on the power brick, support website says to unplug it all and plug it back in and now I have no power what-so-ever

    Waiting for phone support to open (10am in the states the site says), but me thinks I will be sending it back monday :(

    #6 5 months ago
  7. Patrick Garratt

    @6 – Nasty. Bad luck :(

    #7 5 months ago
  8. Cort

    @6 Go back to retail. They will replace it. MS will repair it.

    #8 5 months ago
  9. G1GAHURTZ

    Looks like X1 is having its fair share of issues, too…

    #9 5 months ago
  10. locus2k1

    @8 MS calling me back in a few minutes (found a UK contact centre, woop!), so I will see how I do there, else I’ll contact ShopTo.net

    @7 It’s a small risk we all take on launch hardware, First World Problems™ :) Just as long it doesn’t happen to my PS4 next week too lol

    #10 5 months ago
  11. polygem

    these mt’s really bother me, not only on ms’s side of things – in general. i mean forza is a full priced game. sure, buying into mt’s is optional but if games are designed around this model i think that’s pretty alarming.

    #11 5 months ago
  12. monkeygourmet

    @Poly

    Yep.

    I hate it when people say: ‘if you don’t like them, don’t buy them’. Their mere presence in a game can change your experience with it.

    #12 5 months ago
  13. G1GAHURTZ

    I think microtransactions are ok, depending on how they’re done

    I despise most F2P games, because they’re based around squeezing cash out of you. Some are ok, but I think most of them are just another way to trick people into throwing money away.

    But as long as it doesn’t change the gameplay, which they often do, I don’t think it’s an issue.

    Things like horse armour, for example…

    #13 5 months ago
  14. Djoenz

    Microtransactions in F2P are perfectly understandable, in full priced titles not so.

    #14 5 months ago
  15. Cort

    Looks like PS4 had the better launch in numbers, and the One had a better launch in build quality. Talk about a switcheroo.

    #15 5 months ago
  16. monkeygourmet

    @15

    The PS4 looks to be the ’360 ‘ this time round.

    #16 5 months ago
  17. absolutezero

    Being Scottish means that Kinect thinks I’m talking another language. I don’t think its worked once when I’ve attempted to try anything. Which is alright actually because its still easier to just use the pad for everything.

    The one thing I would quite like is just swapping between games by saying “Xbox Play” then whatever title.

    After being on for around 10 hours yesterday, the unit was cool and quiet. I got some Achievements for watching Twitch. The first Ad I came across was inside the store in a tiny box. Nothing at all on the homepage.

    Everything thats part of the pins menu can be removed and replaced with what you are actually going to use, so while it had TV and a couple of other things there at launch, its not exactly what I want it to be. Which is great.

    Kinect does have three dark red LED lights inside it which can be slightly distracting what with it being sat in front of my TV, the light on the pad itself is also bright white.

    Its just niggles though, small little things that I am sure will soon fade into the background because as it is right now I really like its set up and the UI.

    Impressed with all the games I have tried so far apart from maybe Crimson Dragon and I’m about to head out in a little while to have a look about the shops to see if anything else grabs my fancy. I was thinking Assassin’s Creed 4.

    #17 5 months ago
  18. tezzer1985

    A small amount of all electrical goods fail on release. Consoles are no different, heck PS3 & 360′s are still failing to this day.

    I laugh at the comments by users i.e @5, it just seems like they are jealous they don’t have a next gen system lol

    I’m loving my Xbox One, and next week I’m sure I’ll love my PS4 just as much.

    Also good job on the next gen coverage vg247, can’t wait to see what next-gen brings us

    #18 5 months ago
  19. game_on

    @absolutezero
    It’s not just Kinect that thinks you’re talking another language…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MzeLcJJlOWc

    #19 5 months ago
  20. monkeygourmet

    @18

    Didn’t mean to come off like that! :) glad you are enjoying your machine(s). I will get involved a bit further down the line.

    #20 5 months ago
  21. Djoenz

    @19
    I used to game a lot with a Scottish buddy of mine but his accent isnt so severe as that dude. I can hardly understand a thing :S
    Being dutch doesnt help either.

    #21 5 months ago
  22. monkeygourmet

    @17

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tHA1ufmLZQY

    ;)

    #22 5 months ago
  23. Maguire82

    I was able to play the battlefield 4 campaign when it was at 5% installed and multiplayer at 100%.
    I found the UI really smooth and fast and I find the voice command’s work well when you say the right phrase as adding the smallest extra word like “my” and you voice commands fail.
    Over all I’m extremely happy with my xbox one purchase.
    P.s my box is so so quite 😁 “Xbox on”

    #23 5 months ago
  24. Beersup

    Gotta say I’m impressed with the system so far. No problems at all. Very smooth interface and voice commands work great if you speak clearly and correctly. My friend and I were playing FIFA and switched controllers cause we’re used to being certain colors and the X1 noticed immediately and switched our profiles. Very cool.

    #24 5 months ago
  25. tezzer1985

    @MonkeyGourmet, I’m so sorry, I meant comment @4 not yours, please except my apologies :)

    #25 5 months ago
  26. monkeygourmet

    @25

    Ha! No probs! :)

    #26 5 months ago
  27. game_on

    @Djoenz
    A fellow Nederlander? Cool! ;-)

    #27 5 months ago
  28. Jet Black

    http://youtu.be/sAz_UvnUeuU

    I feel your pain fellow Scots… Classic Rab Florence :)

    #28 5 months ago
  29. absolutezero

    I come back to report that my town basically does not know that the Xbox One exists and this is what I return to!!

    Cheeky bastards :p

    #29 5 months ago
  30. Djoenz

    @Game_on
    Hell yeah man haha sowieso!

    #30 5 months ago
  31. Cobra951

    @11: I’m with you there. The “pared back track list and monetisation efforts” mean I’ll never buy FM5 at anywhere near full price. If they’re going to nickel and dime me, I need a very low entry price point.

    Very informative write-up. Thank you, Dave.

    #31 5 months ago
  32. monkeygourmet

    @Djoenz

    Have you watched ‘New Kids’ before?

    #32 5 months ago
  33. absolutezero

    I made a video of Ryse using the DvR thinger. Pretty easy to do and it shares it and what not.

    Even better you can set it to upload it both to Live and your SkyDrive at the sametime. So you can pull footage off where ever you are.

    Sticking multiple clips togethor, with fades and shit like that. Pretty cool.

    Ok so I just pulled the clip I uploaded off of SkyDrive and shoved it onto youtube without changing anything what so ever. Heres the result!

    http://youtu.be/spJb4wh1RcA

    The upload studio can also Record Voice over for after gameplay commentary. Which is amazing actually.

    #33 5 months ago
  34. Djoenz

    @MonkeyGourmet
    Nah I havent man. What is it a tv show or something?

    #34 5 months ago
  35. monkeygourmet

    @34

    Just recently discovered them, think it was based off a Dutch TV show but I’ve just seen the films. Absolutely mental stuff! :)

    Also, very very NSFW:

    http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=wdlxHmmCxKA&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DwdlxHmmCxKA

    #35 5 months ago
  36. Irani

    I Have One Question , Please Ask Me , Dave Cook Where Are You From?

    #36 5 months ago
  37. Cobra951

    @33: Impressive. Thanks for the demo.

    #37 5 months ago
  38. azrael8577

    @ #3 Cort
    I think that’s a myth. In my experience, I’ve had the tv on with my Xbox and cable box off, said “Xbox, on” and the Tv did not turn off.

    #38 5 months ago
  39. polygem

    btw: i just played windwaker hd, couldn’t remember a puzzle in the earth temple and was lazy. i opened the browser and looked it up on the gamepad on youtube and hopped back into the game instantly, snap….just saying, next gen and marketing blabla and wiiu “gimmicks” and all that.

    #39 5 months ago
  40. polygem

    writing this with a game running in the background…isn’t it fantastic? all this wasted technology in this useless gimmick!

    :)

    i’m telling ya, i wish i had 4 eyes. i can rarely handle all this current gen…glad it’s not 1080p.

    oh wait a sec, receiving a skype call.

    #40 5 months ago
  41. polygem

    oh, it only was my soccer mom

    #41 5 months ago
  42. Prof Power Glove

    “The Xbox One boots up quick”

    Terrible writing. But it’s the thoughts that count and they are numerous and meaningful. Good article, Dave.

    #42 5 months ago
  43. Djoenz

    @MonkeyGourmet
    Wow man hhaha I would have never expected that anyone would know about New Kids besides NL and Germany. I thought you might have talked about something else.

    Well New Kids is mental indeed, Ive only checked the tvshow and eps on youtube. They take dutch stereotypes and piss on them doing all kinds of crazy shit.

    Personally I hate dutch music and dutch tv with a passion tbh but New Kids is fun I guess. The dutch music and movie industry is terrible lmao.

    @Polygem lmao good one!

    #43 5 months ago
  44. monkeygourmet

    @43

    I loved the movies, please tell me there is a new one coming?! :)

    The stereotype is very similar to what people would call ‘Chavs’ in the UK:

    http://cornerstonegroup.files.wordpress.com/2007/05/chavs.jpg

    I loved the New Kids films though, found them hilarious as I used to go to raves a lot and the ‘Happy Hardcore / Tecnhodrome crew’ were indeed a mix of complete pill heads and hectic aggresive chavs. I always found it funny because the music was all about peace, love & unity but you always felt like you were going to get your head kicked in! ;)

    ‘New Kids’ presented that reality well I thought and it struck a chord with me!

    #44 5 months ago
  45. Djoenz

    @44
    Sorry man apparantly they decided to quit with the New Kids formula. The guy who came up with the idea (red hair mullet dude) decided to make another project. Its called Bro’s before Ho’s. It will be a comedy without the madness of new kids.

    Same with hooligans these days they are all gooning it up. They sure know how to party extreme.

    #45 5 months ago
  46. Irani

    Hey Dave Cook Where Are You From?

    #46 5 months ago
  47. Djoenz

    @46
    He’s from Alabama.

    #47 5 months ago
  48. Irani

    In USA?

    #48 5 months ago
  49. Djoenz

    @48
    No man Alabama Ireland.

    #49 5 months ago
  50. Animeboy413

    I Love David Cook

    #50 5 months ago
  51. Major Mayhem 70

    Great job as usual Dave.

    I haven’t picked up Dead Rising 3 yet, but seeing that it’s your favorite launch title, let’s just say I’m downloading it as I type :)
    I bought Ryse, and it truly is a gorgeous game. I’m digging it so far, but it’s still early in the game.

    #51 5 months ago
  52. absolutezero

    Just got done mucking about with Surface with the Smart Glass enabled. It seems the range is really quite limited so in order to actually connect in the first place it needs to be quite close to the console. Once it does connect I can then move it away and it keeps the connection.

    Its strange. Anyway I played a bunch of Dead Rising with it turned on sitting next to me on my desk and it kept updating and giving me side quests, using the Surface speakers to talk to a specific character. Called in a drone strike which you earn by taking food to safe houses. 4 Food = one Strike. Its pretty damn impressive. You get codes to unlock ZDC safehouses which are full of unlimited weapon crates. You can also have it set to a large map of the entire area which is pretty handy. I really liked that the smart glass interface you get is directly connected to an object you pick up in the game, its like a mobile handheld Tablet thingy. So it has ZDC guides and short-cuts laid out to find and explore.

    All in all it works really really well. The using it as a controller thing is just as useless as it ever was however, the actual content and stuff seems to be pretty cool.

    #52 5 months ago
  53. viralshag

    I finished Ryse a little while ago and I have to say I’m a little confused by the low scores to be honest. It was fun and far from the worst SP story I’ve played through. Voice acting was excellent and it looks fantastic.

    The combat does get a bit repetitive but it’s still satisfying if you like aiming for perfect combos and finishers, I would say its a little harder than the Arkham combat but not as varied.

    #53 5 months ago
  54. DrDamn

    @viralshag
    Hopefully I’ve managed to pick up Knack on the cheap. The only opinion which really matters for a game is your own.

    #54 5 months ago
  55. absolutezero

    Thats pretty much exactly what I thought aswell, Ryse feels like a combination of Arkham combat without the flashing zaggy lines feeding you counter information and something like Assassin’s Creed where its about waiting for openings and counter attacking at the correct moments.

    If they had added in something similar to Batman’s gadgets (theres already using the quick fling javelins just now but a couple more would not have hurt) it would have opened up the combat alot more. Its still adding new enemy types where I am in the title which I think is about half way through, double sword guys which need three consecutive parries in order to stumble and open up to attacking.

    I dunno, I can see where the complaints come from, but to me it feels like its been really unfairly singled out for some reason. Strange.

    KI is fucking great, which comes as a massive fucking shock seeing as its both been made in under a year and from Double Helix.

    #55 5 months ago
  56. nippe

    I’m writing this as passionate Xbox fan. I loved to play 5 years now with my 360. Jumping to the XboxOne felt like the usual Microsoft Product. Full (or half full) of thing you have to use differently from the way you are used to, with many many feature in a kind of beta status (except it has been paid and shipped as a final one).

    Good things are the speed of the dashboard and the snap feature. I still haven’t linked my sat box the the console but I’m really tempted to because going in and out from a game session it’s just so fast. Kinect chat works, It isn’t the best audio quality but it gives you the ability to roam around the living room talking with you friends.

    I don’t like the size of the box, it’s huge plus it has a power brick. It just stands horizontally and you are unable to read the disc if placed vertically (Pennello says it’s due to slot in drive, but look at PS4 for a direct comparison). There’s no built in LCD/LED tv stand for the kinect (Every single demo video I watched in the last 4 months had the device mounted on the top of a LCD/led tv!) and it’s much more louder than many reviews made me imagine.

    This can be easily surpassed by the Xbox user experience, but it doesn’t. I’m not a huge fan of Metro UI, I just think that you can’t have the same user interface for a touch phone, a keyboard/mouse equipped PC and a game console. I think tha 360 dashboard functions to interact with friends where really good, giving a good advantage over the Sony console, which took a very long time to emulate in game chat and other goodies. Now it seems that Microsoft copied Sony on this matter.

    Vocal messages and 1-1 chat are over. You have a huge app for friend with a lot of unused space and a different huge app with a lot of unused space for groups. You have to join group (the Xbox usually like to group you with friends playing the same game) and the again you have to enable chat. There’s no hint if you accidentally disabled a single user from voice chat (which seems to affect every user of the chat so that if i disable AAA from my chat no one in the group would be able to listen to him anymore).

    Achievement apps are huge as well and it feels slow and uneasy to look at the achievement list.

    Blu ray playback it’s not as fluid as on the PS3, I’m confident about te fact that it will improved shortly as the machine has power enough to reach the goal, I’m just afraid that in a typical MS way I won’t be able to flag a movie-mode that stops every notification.

    From my point I would have loved to have the 360′s User interface (which in it’s last iteration resembles in a user friendly way to the Windows8/Windows Phone Ui) with more speed and some of the new features.

    By now, as 3rd party apps are limited outside US, I’ll just wait till something is fixed and eventually in the long period I’ll think to switch to a PS4 if it’s more user friendly. I’m happy to be part of this beta from the Day One, I just expected that many aspects would have been thinker in a smarter way.

    PS. I experienced quite a few issues (crashes, unpolished, short campaigns) with the few games I’ve bought but that it less a MS fault.

    #56 5 months ago