The Xbox One is Microsoft’s addition to the eighth generation of video game consoles, following on from the hugely successful Xbox 360, which established Microsoft as a dominant force within the console gaming market due to a number of big name exclusives, such as the Halo and Gears of War series.
Given the success of Xbox 360, Microsoft were under a lot of pressure to deliver a worthy successor. Prior to release critics and consumers kicked up a fuss about Microsoft’s plans to tie games to a specific user account. Their initial plans forced users to register purchased games to their Xbox Live profile, therefore bringing an end to sharing or selling second-hand video games. However, Microsoft were quick to make a U-turn on their decision, performing the necessary changes to appease consumers ahead of the console’s release on November 22nd 2013.
With more than 1 million sales within the first 24 hours of release, Xbox One was a success and Microsoft have continued to build on a strong launch since, selling 10 million consoles within its first year.
You, presumably, weren’t one of those that splashed the cash on a new console during the early days of next-gen gaming, but with prices now falling it is the perfect time to grab yourself a bargain. Before you do, read through our Xbox One console guide to decide whether it’s the gaming system for you.
Xbox One Specifications
CPU,1.75GHz AMD 8-core CPU
GPU,853 MHz AMD Radeon GCN architecture
Storage,500GB/1TB built-in hard drive (external memory supported)
Connectivity,3 x USB 3.0
Dimensions, H: 373 x W: 323 x D: 191 mm
Weight, 4.5 kg
Xbox One Appearance
The Xbox One’s exterior appearance offers a huge change from its older sibling,
ditching the Xbox 360’s rounded case for sharp corners and a slick finish, offering a more simplified, minimalist look.
Initially available only in black, the Xbox One is coated with a liquid finish, providing a sleek, shiny appearance that will fit in perfectly in a modern-day living room, in line with Microsoft’s attempts to create an all-round home entertainment system. A number of limited edition consoles have since been released, including the grey and blue Halo 5: Guardians, navy blue Forza Motorsports 6 and red Gears of War 4 systems.
One issue that some gamers have with the console is its bulky size. The Xbox One is bigger than both the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 4. After presenting more than 75 prototypes, Microsoft decided to go with a larger design in order to minimise the risk of overheating – an issue that plagued early models of the Xbox 360. The downside of this is the amount of space that it takes to house the Xbox One, as well as the fact that it is unable to sit vertically, unlike the PlayStation 4. However, you will be able to play in peace, knowing that the console’s inside are being well looked after.
Xbox One Features
Anybody that has experienced Windows 8 or a Windows phone will be well acquainted with the tile-based dashboard that Microsoft have opted for with the Xbox One. It’s liked by some and disliked by others, but Microsoft have continued to update and redesign the dashboard to try and provide an experience that works for everyone. PlayStation 4 has been hailed for its quick and easy navigation, but Xbox One is slowly but surely catching up. The process of trawling through menus and lists has been simplified and lag issues have been addressed, with more updates undoubtedly yet to come.
With the gaming market continuing to push on with their shift towards digital downloads, the Xbox One is shipped with the preinstalled Store app, offering all of the latest released titles at the click of a button. Likewise, users also have access to a range of movies, music and apps via the Store, in line with Microsoft’s desire to make the Xbox One more than a gaming console.
However, despite initial pre-release rumours, physical copies of Xbox One games can be purchased and played via Blu-ray discs. Likewise, the console is also capable of playing back videos via Blu-ray, CD and DVD.
Continuing on from the Xbox 360, Xbox Live profiles have transferred over, meaning all of your achievements, profile information and avatar will be available on your new system from the moment that you sign in. The entire Xbox Live service has been scaled up, with more than 300,000 servers powering Microsoft’s online experience – a huge increase on the 500 used by the maiden Xbox console and the 3,000 originally used by the Xbox 360 (later increasing to 15,000). Likewise, the console offers users space for up to 1,000 friends as well as Twitch integration, allowing you to stream your gameplay to the masses.
The biggest selling point of Xbox Live is undoubtedly the Games with Gold offers, which provides subscribers with free digital game downloads each month. This usually includes two titles, but users are often treated to more. Since the service was launched on Xbox 360 back in July 2013, the quality of game offered has drastically increased, with titles such as WWE 2K16, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, Thief and Sunset Overdrive offered as freebies.
Likewise, Xbox users are also offered two additional Xbox 360 games. However, with Microsoft gradually introducing backwards compatibility, these titles are often also available for download on your Xbox One console.
Xbox One Apps
As an entertainment unit, the Xbox One console comes pre-installed with an number of handy apps. Include is Groove Music (previously Xbox Music), which allows users who have purchased a Groove Music pass to browse and stream their favourite tunes from a catalog of more than 38 million songs. Likewise, users can also make use of the Microsoft Movies & TV app (formerly Xbox Video), which allows users to rent or purchase the latest released films and TV series directly on their Xbox One console. Better yet, users are able to search for films and music using their Kinect sensor, making Microsoft Groove & Microsoft Movies an easier alternative to the likes of Spotify and Netflix.
In line with Microsoft’s attempts to bring the Xbox franchise closer together with their other devices and services, these apps are also available on Microsoft computers, phones and tablets, meaning that programs and music purchased on your console will be seamlessly available on all of your other devices. Likewise, Microsoft’s OneDrive service is also available on the Xbox One, allowing you browse, view and organise your important files directly from your console.
Also present is the Upload and Upload Studio apps, which allows gamers to show off their greatest gaming moments to their friends and the community. If you have a Kinect sensor activated, simply stating ‘Xbox, record that’ will tell your console to record that unbelievable save or incredible kill. However, Upload Studio enhances your capabilities by provide the perfect workshop to edit your clips. From there you can trim your recordings, add ‘skins’ (sort of like Instagram filters) and record audio or videos of yourself to overlay on the video. From there you can upload your video, which will allow fans to view them via their Xbox One consoles, or save it to OneDrive, which will allow you to share your creation via YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.
While Microsoft’s included apps certainly make the Xbox One a fantastic console, their capture of EA’s subscription gaming service takes the device to another level. EA Access is an app exclusive to Xbox One, which is the gaming sector’s answer to subscription-based services like Amazon Instant Video, Graze and Tidal, which operate in the movies, food and music markets respectively.
EA Access subscribers can choose to pay in monthly installments (at a price of £3.99 per month) or yearly (at a cost of £19.99), which will provide you with unlimited access to a number of top EA titles, including games such as Need for Speed, Battlefield: Hardline and the latest sports franchises such as FIFA, Madden and NHL. While it admittedly isn’t for everybody, if there is one or more titles in the vault that you wish to play, it is usually well worth the fee.
Of course, Xbox One users also have access to a number of other brilliant apps, including Internet Explorer, your favourite movie apps such as Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Now TV and Blinkbox, on-demand services such as BBC iPlayer and Channel 5’s Demand 5, as well as the essentials such as YouTube and Skype.
Xbox One Accessories
One of the biggest selling points of the Xbox One is its controller. The Xbox 360 controller dominated the market for years, becoming a favourite with not only Xbox gamers, but PC gamers too. The next-gen controller offers exactly the same in terms of shape, size and layout, with a few minor changes made to ensure that it remains as one of the market’s top options.
Major changes have been made to the analog sticks, with micro-grip texture ensuring that your fingers won’t be slipping out of place mid-game, while they are also lighter and easier than ever to move. The D-Pad has also been overhauled, as well as the bumpers – two features that were criticised on the old gamepads.
Many of Xbox One’s accessories are almost identical to its predecessor. Official headsets have had minor adjustments, while Microsoft have already released an adaptor which allows gamers to play using their own alternative audio equipment. Likewise, Plug & Play kits are also available to provide users with an alternative to purchasing a continuous stream of AA batteries.
Xbox One’s greatest accessory, however, is undoubtedly the Kinect sensor. Kinect saves
you plenty of time thanks to its visual recognition abilities, meaning that there is no need to sign-in as it will scan your face and do it for you as soon as you’re in shot. A must have for your Xbox One, the Kinect also allows users to control their console using voice and, or motion, empowering you with the ability to navigate around various menus and apps without lifting a finger. You don’t even have to turn your console on – a simple ‘Xbox, on’ will do the trick – just one of more than 50 commands that Kinect understands.
Kinect for Xbox 360 didn’t have quite the impact that Microsoft would have expected, but they have added significant improvement to the new version. The sensor’s field of vision has increased by 60% and can detect up to six players at one time, keeping track of their heart rate, facial expressions and the position of 25 different limbs.
In summary, Xbox One is a fantastic eighth gen console. If you loved the Xbox 360, the Xbox One provides a similar experience with a few minor adjustments, which help to take it to the next level. Xbox is no longer just a video game console, but a entertainment system that brings gaming, movies, music and internet access to your front room.
It’s more than capable of meeting your graphics and processing needs, but with Microsoft trying hard to avoid the same problems that plagued the Xbox 360 system, it certainly takes up a lot of space. If you can get over its beastly size, however, the Xbox One is a great console choice.