As an Xbox gamer for the past 9 years (I know this because my Xbox tells me on my gamer profile), I must admit that I firmly believe that the Xbox One is the best all round entertainment system to come out of Microsoft. I still feel that the Xbox 360 was a better games console, but when you factor in all of the features of the Xbox One and its pedigree as an all-round entertainment machine, it’s pretty tough to beat. That being said, it isn’t perfect. I’m a subjective guy, so I thought that I’d have a look at some of the best and worst features of the Xbox One.
Just as a heads up, this is all pre-‘New Xbox One Experience’. I’ll be looking at how some of these have changed once I get around to installing the NXOE to my machine.
Best: Screenshots and game-clip capture
Yeah, it isn’t unique to the Xbox One. But this isn’t an article looking at “Why the Xbox One is better or worse than the PS4”, so don’t go giving my gyp because the feature is present on other consoles or PCs, m’kay. Now that that’s out of the way, let me continue. Taking screenshots and capturing game footage is pretty much my favourite feature of the Xbox One. It means that I can share cool moments with my friends, or with you guys on the website or our social media. It also means that I can customise my Xbox One with fancy screenshot backgrounds, which is an awesome feature in itself. But the main reason that I love the feature is because it was so obviously missing from the Xbox 360 (but it was only obvious once I’d had the option on the Xbox One). It’s one of those features that, before you have it, you don’t need it. But once you’ve got it, you can’t do without.
Worst: Tiles, and their various inconsistencies
The various ’tiles’ on the Xbox One’s Dashboard could easily be in the ‘best’ category, if they weren’t so damned inconsistent. When they work perfectly, it’s a seamless experience. I should point out that, if you use the Kinect, you don’t have to worry about tiles too much because you can just tell your Xbox to launch apps – which is a pretty seamless experience. With the tiles, however, it’s a bit hit and miss as to whether or not what you click on will ever actually launch. Often, I’ll sit spamming ‘A’ on a tile that I want to open, only for it to refuse to do so. You then have to scroll around the Dash for a little bit, for some unknown reason, and then try again. Sometime this will work, but often you’ll still be sat there spamming ‘A’ for another few seconds before anything actually launches. In all, it can sometimes take anywhere from 10 seconds to half a minute for tiles to activate. It might not sound like much, but when it happens on the regular it can get pretty bloody annoying.
Best: The apps
Whilst the tiles of the apps on the Xbox One might be annoying as hell, the apps themselves are very good. On the Xbox 360 there was a real divide between applications and games. It felt a bit jarring to go from Left4Dead to SkyGo, for instance. On the Xbox One, however, the transition between the two is seamless. You can tell that the Xbox One was built for general entertainment, rather than just video-games. Whilst this isn’t for everyone, I very much appreciate it. I like being able to use my games console for everything, from TV to Twitch, and all of the apps work perfectly well – I can’t remember the last time that an app crashed on me. Games, on the other hand, are a different story (with the FIFA titles being the worst culprits).
Worst: Snapping makes me snap
The concept of being able to snap applications, to the side of games and other apps, is a good one. And, when it works, it’s incredibly useful. In general, though, snapping can be quite jarring. On the controller you can double tap the centre button and then swipe left on the analogue stick, and it will give you some options to snap apps. When that works, it’s brilliant. Most of the time, though, it isn’t as seamless as you’d like. I often end up accidentally snapping apps when I want to take screenshots. Or I’ll accidentally launch an app that I wanted to snap. Using the Kinect does help, but again that’s only when it works. You can sit shouting “Xbox snap!” until you’re blue in the face – it’ll only snap if it feels like it. I should highlight the possibility that it’s just my Kinect device, but I know that it’s an issue for the majority of my Xbox One owning friends, too.
Best: The Party app (when it works)
When the Party app is on form, it’s hard to contend with. Launching the app is easy, inviting people to the party is even easier and communicating with those party members is a doddle. More often than not, I’ll be playing my Xbox One with people, so I use the Party feature an awful lot. I’ll also use the Party feature whilst playing games with my brother when we’re in the same house (even though he’s often in the room across from me). But that’s because the Party app makes playing games with your friends so damned easy – particularly with EA games, where it will just launch you and your party into the same game together (usually once you’ve set yourself as a squad, or equivalent).
Worst: The Party app (when it doesn’t work)
The above is when the Party app isn’t being a complete bitch, though. If it’s feeling particularly awkward, creating, joining or staying in a Party can be a nightmare. Often you’ll be kicked from a Party, or invites wont send, or you’ll be able to see that your Party friends are talking but nobody can hear each other, or they can hear you but you can’t hear them, or vice versa, or the app will just crash and kick you from the Party (without telling you). In general, a lot can go wrong with the app. Microsoft have done a good job of fixing it over the past couple of years, and it’s nowhere near as bad as it used to be. But it can still get on your nerves, if it’s feeling particularly awkward.
Best: EA Access
I’m going to finish on a positive, because I’m that sort of guy. Whilst I was sceptical of the EA Access service when it first launched, I’ve slowly grown to love it. At first, the selection of games to download was pretty sparse, and it didn’t overly justify the £20 a year subscription fee, but then EA added a load of fantastic games, from NHL 15 to Battlefield 4, and I’ve fallen in love with the service. Most of the games are the sorts of titles that I wouldn’t buy when they first come out, but I would inevitably pick up in the sale, or when they were pre-owned. Now, however, I just have to wait a few months after their release and I can download them (for no extra charge) through EA Access. It’s one of those services that is only good for a certain type of person – that person being someone who likes EA games, but not enough to buy them when they first hit the shelves. Sure, they’ve added Plants vs Zombies, Need4Speed, Dragon Age, Battlefield, Titanfall and Peggle 2 but, in general, the service is more about the sports games. That’s great for me, but it might not be for everyone (though all of the games from the list above are pretty decent).
So there we have it, my best and worst features of the Xbox One. I’m sure that if I stayed here long enough, I’d be able to think up a fair few more pros and cons of the console, but for now these are my top few. How about you, what are your favourite and least favourite features of the Xbox One? Let me know in the comments below!