So, I’ve gone and bought one; I wasn’t going to, I was going to hang off until March and the Titanfall release but I just couldn’t resist it any longer. I have to say I’ve not been this excited in a long time, well not over a bit of plastic, anyway.
Out of the box and once you’ve stripped away the unnecessary packacking we’ve got a decent length HDMI cable – which is a one hundred percent improvement on the lack of one with the 360 – something which always grated with me, so it’s good to see one included. You get a power pack, controller and headset.
The controller is a nice fit, the triggers feel a little springy but I’m guessing that’s just because I’m so used to my old and battered 360 controller, the D pad and buttons are all nice and punchy with the analogue sticks feeling much more robust than before; my only real bugbear is that they didn’t include a battery pack, I mean come on guys, how much would it have cost you to stick in a rechargeable battery pack?
Headset wise, you get a standard plug-in headset which sits well and will do the job until they bring out a wireless option, they weren’t going to add one at all so be thankful.
There has a been a lot of talk about the size and shape of both the new Xbox and it’s swanky new Kinect but I’m okay with it, it’s not been designed by Bang and Olufson, that’s clear for all to see, but there is a certain practical neatness to it which I quite like, and yes it’s heavy but unless you’re leaving it on a cardboard table or having someone hold it all the time I don’t think it’s really that much of an issue.
The physical hardware set up is easy, two minutes at most and now the Kinect doesn’t have its own plug which is a much better idea.
Hardware out of the way and set up and I switch it on and thankfully it takes only ten minutes to have it up and running (it took longer to install Battlefield 4 than it did to update the onboard software) and away we go and this is where the problems begin.
For a start, it’s not as slick as the 360 – this is clearly because they want you to use the Kinect but as anyone who has used the machine will know, that’s not perfect either and I don’t want to be shouting at the Kinect but this means I’m now reduced to plodding through the badly laid out menus.
Party chat has been reduced to a nightmare – at least initially. Once you’re in the party then it’s plain sailing but getting there is nowhere near as simple as it should be if you’re not using the Kinect and for some reason when you join the party you are muted, so you have to take the extra step to unmute yourself, which is ridiculous and I can see now why people were so frustrated with it all when it first came out.
You’re also forced to select a background colour for the dashboard and they are all garish, I don’t want any of them, but I’m forced to, which feels very Microsoft – which is a shame.
Overall the machine is fine but the software needs a serious reboot. They’ve had a lot of time to prepare for this, but once again they seem to have rushed out a dashboard that just doesn’t work well enough for the money we’ve paid; frankly it looks similar in layout to the first Windows phone, oh you don’t know what that looked like? You want to know why? It’s because no one liked them, Windows phones still struggle compared to Apple and Android but Microsoft still don’t seem to care, which is a shame because the machine really can, and will, be superb over time.
One up side is the Upload Studio. Upload allows you to save little clips via the often frustrating “XBOX RECORD THIS, THAT, SOMETHING, ANYTHING OH DON’T BOTHER” voice command, but when it does work you can save a small clip of game play and edit it and give it a voice over and upload it for the world to see. Upload is easy to use and a bit of fun.
So, is the Xbox One worth it? Overall I’d say just about; it’s expensive and the software needs a major facelift and Microsoft need to stop flogging the dead horse which is Kinect, people don’t mind using a controller, in fact we love them, that’s why we use them. Kinect is a gimmick that works well with the new Xbox Fitness and sports games but other than that let’s leave it alone, please.