First impressions of the Xbox One

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About a month ago now I caved in and picked up an Xbox One, which was something I’d spent a lot of time carefully deliberating, after all it’s still relatively early in the lives of the PS4 and the Xbox One, and both carry a fairly hefty price tag right now even if you do manage to find an irresistible money saving bundle.

Choosing between the two consoles proved to be an easy decision for me to make though; the majority of my friends who have next gen devices have also opted for the Xbox One, there are more appealing exclusive games out for it in my opinion, and I’ve been a staunch supporter of the Xbox 360 for the majority of the previous generation.

Anyway, after a short trip to Game and a long walk home, I finally managed to unwrap Microsoft’s bulky device and wire it into my TV.

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First things first, the Xbox One, its box, and the accompanying accessories are heavier than you’d expect, so factor that in when you’re planning your route home or you’re moving from one place to another.

Annoyingly, the arrangement of everything within the box is far from helpful and it’ll take you a while to sift through the various compartments in search of everything you need to get started on your journey into uncharted gaming territory.

Then the next challenge before powering your new console up will present itself, where’s the best place to put the new black behemoth? If you’re living room’s anything like mine, the chances are you’ll be moving a lot of items around to clear a bit of extra space whilst attempting to hide the tangle of new power cords and cables that are added to the mix as well, which will be all the worse if you’ve got hold of the new Kinect sensor too. Also, don’t forget that the Xbox One can only be placed horizontally, it can’t be used in a vertical position like its predecessor.

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That really only leaves one last annoyance standing between you and a night of interactive entertainment, and it’s the one thing that will become the bane of your existence as a proud Xbox One owner; a torrent of updates! Now the first time you update everything fully is by far the worst, in fact you’ll more than likely spend the entirety of your first evening with your new console watching the percentage counter rising higher and higher on the update progress display. You’ll then need to install each of the games onto the hard drive and occasionally put up with spontaneous further updates each of which can be up to around 4Gb. Once these two lengthy processes are done however, you’re ready to start enjoying yourself.

Booting the console up is simple enough and takes you to the home screen relatively quickly, then you can navigate to your chosen destination thanks to the intuitive interface which only takes a few minutes to get used to. In the past, we’ve all had to rely on using a controller to zip through menu screens and input information, but you’ve got one or two extra options to throw into the mix now thanks largely to the Kinect sensor. Voice commands provide you with quick shortcuts to tucked away areas and they’re straight forward enough to use, although I have to admit the only one I find myself using on a regular basis is the one that goes straight to the achievements I’ve just earned in-game. Then again you could always wave your arms around to take control of the cursor and use your hands to select what you want to see on screen, but chances are you won’t really use this function much after the initial set-up.

The Kinect sensor has a few more tricks up its sleeves and they’re actually useful this time around too, so it’s highly unlikely you’ll get rid of it after a few short months like its predecessor. Signing into your Xbox Live profile has been made as simple as standing in front of your TV screen with the help of the sensor’s camera, which recognises you once you’ve configured it correctly. The microphone built into the sensor also allows you to chat with your friends whilst playing online without the need to pick up a headset. Lastly, entering in 25 digit Xbox Live codes can be a frustratingly slow process, so the inclusion of QR codes the Kinect sensor’s camera can pick up on is definitely a welcome one, and they can be detected from a fair distance too.

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When it comes to controllers the Xbox is still miles above its competitors. There’s nothing really dramatically different between the Xbox One’s pad and the 360’s, but it has been streamlined to perfection, particularly when it comes to the triggers, the four point D-pad, and the new location of the battery pack.

In my opinion the Xbox One currently has a far better selection of exclusive games at the moment, and there are more of them too, catering to just about every taste from racers and shooters to fighters and adventure titles.

At a quick glance the graphics displayed on screen aren’t that much of a step up from the previous generation, which I was a little disappointed by when I first saw them. However, when you sit down and really take a close look at them on a high definition screen, you can see that the real differences are in the little details and there’s no denying that the games look absolutely stunning so far if you choose them wisely, and my favourites at the moment include Titanfall, Dead Rising 3, and Forza 5.

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And that leaves us with the only bad point I’ve found so far whilst playing on the Xbox One. Normally, co-op and multiplayer gaming is a largely enjoyable experience when you’re having a laugh with a few friends. Unfortunately, the set up involved when it comes to actually being able to talk amongst yourselves is an infuriating process, involving sending out party invites, messing around with chat settings, and finally resorting to looking up the correct course of action in the instructions manual or a quick google search. In fact, on one occasion I actually had to abandon playing online with a friend because even with the two of us trying to resolve the issue we were still struggling to get everything set-up. It’s a bit of a shame really because it never seemed to be as much of a chore on the 360.

All in all is it worth picking up an Xbox One at the moment? If you’re an avid gamer the answer has to be yes; Microsoft has the edge when it comes to exclusive games at the moment, the controller is more comfortable, the experiences are great fun with the exception of a few minor pitfalls and it’s not a bad investment when you think of the games that are waiting out on the horizon. Then again, if you can stand to wait a little while it might not be a bad idea considering there aren’t that many games out overall yet for either console and there’s still plenty of time left for a price drop or two in the future.

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