The Xbox One is proof of Microsoft's high level of ambition. It represents their desire not only to take a place in your home entertainment center, but to rumble right into the middle. It's a black plastic tank, a sharp-edged piece of corners that should conquer everything on its way. Despite its imposing physicality, it has a surprising number of weak points.
Microsoft stumbled upon the Xbox One announcement, betting that users would be okay with an always-online Xbox that blocks the sale of used games and requires a Kinect motion camera to operate. But the gaming audience was furious at the news, and eventually Microsoft gave in and removed the console's Internet and Kinect requirements, as well as its DRM.
Even before Microsoft officially announced this, it was whispered that the console was behind schedule, and our sources told us that Microsoft was up to six months behind in creating content for the Xbox One, codenamed "Durango". As launch drew near, we continued to hear from sources that the operating system and core software were not yet ready and that the system may be facing a rough start.
The Xbox One I've been using for the past week and a half is a lot different from the Xbox One Microsoft announced in May. The relatively short time Microsoft had to make so many changes can be seen in the console and its software. Xbox One is clearly getting hot and many of its features are incomplete.
How can you best evaluate a work in progress? It's not easy, and this will be a long review.
I've had access to a "beta" Xbox One for the past week and a half, and Microsoft representatives have repeatedly reminded me that the software I am using is not final. The system software was updated regularly during my time with the computer. Another update will be released just in time for Friday, the day the console is released. The games are also updated. Everything will work better, they say.
In this review I can only offer my impressions of what I saw and played. Keep in mind that Xbox One software is likely to change. Some changes may arrive in time for the start, others in the following months. Bugs are ironed out, new functions added, current problems resolved. Other unexpected problems may arise. In a year from now, the Xbox One operating system will probably no longer be recognizable from the one in the black box under my TV.
But now, after nearly two weeks with the console and several conversations with Microsoft about what their big black box can and can't do, I have a pretty good grasp of the Xbox One that will hit stores this Friday.
Let me start with a metaphor. I know, I know. Metaphors are the worst. But it's a metaphor with dragons and action and unlikely heroes. I hope you will forgive me. There's a mighty dragon, you see, and it's mad and wreaking havoc all over the country and terrorizing the friendly people of a small forest town. Though unstoppable, the dragon has one weakness: a tiny gap in its otherwise impenetrable armored skin. When the best archer in town finds out, he fires a legendary magic arrow directly into the weak spot of the dragon and hits the animal.
The Xbox One is that mighty dragon. Hear it roar! The new device from Microsoft is designed not only to join your entertainment center in the living room, but also to rule it. Thanks to its ability to both input and output HDMI audio and video, it can act as the mother brain connecting your digital cable box, AV receiver, and HDTV. Better still, with the updated Kinect camera, you can control everything – your TV, music, streaming video – with just your voice.
"Kneel down and despair before my powerful voice activation technology!" The Xbox One is crying. "You can't pierce my armor!"
Well, except for this flaw. Or in the case of the Xbox One vulnerabilities.
The Xbox One spawns a bold new idea
At first glance, the Xbox One appears to be a gaming console, much like the Xbox 360 before it. Physically bigger I think. But more or less the same.
It connects to your TV with an HDMI cable and allows you to play games, watch streaming media and watch movies. But it also has an HDMI input, which is a completely new idea for a game console. The idea is that you can plug your cable box into the Xbox One and with a simple voice command – Xbox, watch TV – you can watch TV through the Xbox One. You can use your voice to change channels – watch Xbox, HBO – or control the DVR – Xbox on your cable box, pause.
It's a damn cool idea, and basically it works. The cable TV feature is great and you can quickly switch between the game you were playing and what's happening on TV. Although my inner optimist hopes that Microsoft will eventually get the console to work as precisely as it wants it to, not everything just fits the way it should. The hardware is sturdy, but the software device feels loose and incomplete.
All entertainment centers are different, and the Xbox One doesn't seem all that adaptable
The Xbox works fine when you set it up exactly the way Microsoft intended, but slight variations in your home theater setup can quickly throw things off balance. If there's one thing I've learned from checking out other people's home entertainment rigs, it's that almost everyone has a little variance.
Example: The Xbox One has a built-in IR blaster that you can use to control the basic functions of your cable box, your TV set and your AV receiver. Once you have specified the brand of your TV and audio receiver, it can be used as a universal remote control. When you say "Xbox On," your console turns on and the other two devices turn on at the same time. When I first used it, I felt like I was on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise or the Navigator.
Ah, but what if you're already playing a game on another console and your TV and AV receiver are already on? Then when you say "Xbox On," the console turns off the TV. That's because it just presses the power button on your TV remote control. There is no way to just press the device when the TV is currently off. If you're anything like me, you'll turn it off the first time and probably never turn it on again. Let's go back to the remote control!
These kinds of little problems add up. The Xbox One should integrate seamlessly into our entertainment centers. If not, users remove the console from its central location and plug everything in separately, rendering one of the console's main functions irrelevant.
Another example: The devices we tested have problems with the audio coming from the cable box and are currently only able to output surround sound if you reach into the menus and tick the "Surround Sound (BETA)" option . Otherwise, your cable's 5.1 surround will be downmixed to stereo. My boss Stephen Totilo likes to watch pro wrestling and when he does he likes to watch it in surround sound. (All the better to hear the ridicule and the body slams, I think.) But when he runs his cable box through his Xbox One, the sound only comes through in stereo. Microsoft assures us that there is a non-beta option for surround audio throughput, but it will not be available at launch.
If the device removes functions from the components it is supposed to unite, users will likely remove them from the equation
Or take my quirky AV setup: I like to play games and watch movies with an astro surround sound headset that decodes Dolby 5.1 audio from an optical input cable. However, the Xbox One can currently only output stereo and DTS digital through its optical output. My headphone receiver cannot read DTS Digital so I have to output in stereo and my surround headphones become regular old headphones. I asked Microsoft last week if they plan to add Dolby out to the optical audio port in the near future (this is an option for the HDMI out) but haven't gotten a solid answer as to whether a fix is coming.
Remember, Microsoft wants you to make this console your "only" device so that it can rule your entertainment center and unify your living room. However, if the device removes functions from the components it is supposed to unite, users will likely remove them from the equation and reconnect everything separately. The community is broken and the Xbox One becomes just another game console.
It's important to say that all of this TV stuff is almost there. Any conversation with Microsoft indicates that the software will be updated until everything works better. After all, this is the same company that has reinvented its Xbox 360 console multiple times over the past eight years, using only software updates. I hope Microsoft can make the TV integration smoother as the concept is very cool.
Well, that's a big black box
Here's what I can tell you for sure: The Xbox One is a great black box. As a physical object, the console is clean and imposing. It's all hard edges and bold lines, and it's easily the largest rectangular non-TV in my entertainment hub. It sticks out above the PS3 Slim, PS4, and Xbox 360, and goes head-to-toe with the original Xbox and bold original PS3.
I like the Xbox One's clean, retro aesthetic, but it's not for everyone. I'm not that crazy about size – in our age of shrinking digital boxes, the Xbox One feels like an anomalous space eater. Microsoft's ambitions for the console get physical: this box is designed to get everything else out of the way in your entertainment center. I'm not sure the Xbox One deserves its place on my black box pyramid, but if it does, its presence will be known.
If a controller isn't broken, don't fix it
The Xbox One controller stays close to the design of the Xbox 360 controller. That's a good thing as the Xbox 360 controller was a pretty good controller. The new controller has the same general sleep mask shape, its thumb pins are still offset and there is still a round "Xbox" button in the middle. The Home and Back buttons have been renamed Menu and View, but their functions change with each app. In most cases, these are the same two buttons. Overall, it's a sleek, sturdy piece of engineering.
Even so, some of the changes Microsoft made to their controller design made me scratch my head, doubtful that they actually improve the new controller. The batteries have been pulled into the body of the controller. They no longer hang on the landing gear like a fighter jet fuel tank. It's an aesthetic improvement, but it can be an inconvenience – often when my Xbox 360 controller's batteries were low I would just snap out the battery and swap it out with one of my other controllers. If the batteries are in the Xbox One controller, it will take a little longer to swap with another controller's batteries. A small sacrifice in the name of a streamlined design, but a sacrifice nonetheless.
The thumb pins have been slightly extended by the 360 controller and have a rough, profiled edge on the top. The extra height means the player's thumbs have a greater range of motion compared to the 360 controller. I haven't noticed any tangible benefit from it yet, although I haven't been able to thoroughly test first-person shooters like Call of Duty or Battlefield either. In general, I don't like the larger sticks – they feel uncomfortable, like my thumbs are on stilts. Maybe I'll get used to them. It is too early to say.
Fortunately, the new D-pad is a major and definite improvement. Microsoft finally separated the four major D-pad directions and made it easy to move your thumb between them. The new D-pad feels clicky and responsive, and I no longer worry about accidentally hitting it at the wrong angle.
The Xbox One triggers have been significantly expanded and toned down. They're less bouncy than the Xbox 360's triggers and have made several games – notably the gunplay in Dead Rising 3 and Crimson Dragon – muddy. It's not love at first sight, but like the thumb pins, I'll understand them better if I have the chance to live with them for a while longer and play more games.
A cool addition, the Xbox One's triggers can rumble independently along the handles of the controller, which allows some games to provide a surprising range of physical feedback. Forza's tires slip under your brake finger, Ryse's spears shudder under your grip. It's still unclear whether multi-platform developers will bother to take advantage of the Xbox One's improved rumble. So it could well be that the feature will only be available in exclusive Xbox One versions. It's cool, however, and we hope more developers start programming on it.
Annoyingly, the Xbox One controller can only accept proprietary headsets for chat. So if you own a high-end headset with chat functionality from a third party like Turtle Beach or Astro, you'll have to wait until those companies or Microsoft make adapters for them. (First the lack of a Dolby optical output, now this! The Xbox One doesn't seem to like my Astros.) The one-ear chat headset that came with the Xbox One is serviceable, but it can't keep up with $ 100 -300 headsets that audio-focused gamers are reluctant to replace.
So. Some of the changes to the controller (the D-pad, the trigger rumble) are significant improvements. Some (the new battery, the new headphone jack) are just a few steps back. And on some (the longer thumb pins and the softer triggers) the jury still isn't there.
The Kinect is a nice idea that has to work all the time, not most of the time
Each Xbox One comes with a chunky rectangular Kinect camera. Kinect is one of the main selling points of the Xbox. Microsoft hopes this will change the way you interact with your TV. Place it above or below your TV screen and it will quickly scan your room, learn your identity, read your face and respond to your voice. It can recognize your skeletal structure and even read your mood.
In theory, Kinect represents an intriguing and potentially revolutionary approach to interacting with our home theaters. In practice it is a generational improvement over the Xbox 360 predecessor, but there is still a lot to be done.
First, the positives: when it works, Kinect is a show stopper. And it works most of the time. I sit down and it sees me and logs me in almost immediately. "Hi, Kirk!" the xbox says. I say, "Xbox, go to Ryse: Son of Rome," and the game starts quickly. I play a few minutes. In the middle of a level, I say "Xbox go home" and the console pauses the game and immediately goes to the home screen. From there, I can tell my Xbox to watch TV, open Netflix, or check out what my Xbox Live friends are doing online. Everything is very neat.
But then I like things like that. I love ambitious new devices and I forgive them if they don't work perfectly. I feel that to be fully mainstream, something like this has to work 100% of the time. The remote control with which the Kinect is to be replaced still works 100%.
After a couple of weeks of testing in different rooms, I'd say the Xbox One's Kinect worked about 80-85% of the time. Not a terrible percentage, but not enough to be consistent either. The camera listens to me enough times to be annoying. Every time I have to repeat myself – "Xbox. Xbox. Xbox goes to Skype" – I'm much closer to just throwing it away and picking up the controller.
One of the much touted features of the Kinect is that it can quickly read QR codes, which in theory saves gamers a ton of time entering download codes and the like. After trying two separate Kinects, we were unable to read QR codes from phones, suggesting that only QR codes printed on paper may be readable. When you have a printed QR code, the scanner works like some kind of black technological magic. It is wonderful. But so many QR codes are digital these days that the need for a physical code could cripple a very useful functionality from the start. We'll keep trying to work with different codes and different phones and see if we can get it to work.
Xbox One can recognize you and set you up to sign in to Xbox Live the moment it sees you. This is a great idea, especially for families with multiple console users who all have different apps and saved settings. In practice, however, face recognition is an inconsistent and sometimes annoying touch. Sometimes I had to rearrange myself in my room so it could see me, which completely defeats the point of hassle-free, automatic login. This morning I sat alone in front of my TV and for some reason the Kinect thought it saw my girlfriend somewhere in the room. She wasn't in the room. Another time the camera recognized her when she walked into the room and switched to her profile, forcing me to manually switch back to access my game stores or pinned apps. I passed this story on to a Microsoft representative who told me my Xbox shouldn't do that. There was an error. So again, maybe this won't happen to anyone else. Or maybe it's a bug that lasts for a while.
I'm not sure if I really want to talk to my TV all day
Even if the Kinect worked just fine, it has a bigger, more fundamental hurdle to overcome. See … you need to talk to that thing. According to. Every time you want it to do something.
I have already chosen a specific tone to use when speaking on the Kinect. I consider it my "Kinect Voice". It's clear and it projects like I would strictly tell a dog that it was bad from anywhere in the room. My Kinect voice is louder and clearer than my speaking voice, and it's … well, it's annoying. Say I'm sitting in a quiet living room with two other people, my friend is working on her laptop, and a visiting friend is reading a magazine. I want to see if new films are available for rent, so I say, "Xbox, go to the video." Maybe it doesn't hear me. "Xbox." I say. "Xbox, go to the video."
At this point, everyone in the room was looking. I feel a little bit on the spot and weirdly embarrassed. I really just want the damn thing to switch apps by now. It's rare but noticeable moments like this that make me wonder if voice control is really the wave of the future.
People, myself included, like the iPhone's voice control. I use it regularly to set timers and alarms and the like. Voice control isn't billed as the primary method of navigating on iPhone, however, and if it were, I doubt we'd be that interested. Especially not when we had to call the phone from the living room.
There is a similar problem with party chat. If you're playing a multiplayer game with friends, you can talk to them using either the Xbox One's proprietary headset or the Kinect. (The former option offers a lot more clarity than the latter.) However, if you just want to activate most of the Xbox’s features easily, yell into the Kinect while still chatting with your friends. That means you either have to mute your microphone every time you issue a command or simply shout your Kinect command into the party chat. It's hard to be cool shouting Kinect commands in party chat.
I'm already used to speaking to the Kinect on my Xbox 360 to control video playback, but voice control is so fundamental to the design of the Xbox One that I command the console much more often. A week and a half on the thing is enough to make me wonder, do I really want this to be the primary way I interact with my entertainment center from now on? Will I speak to my console any time of the day or night and strictly use my Kinect Voice at 2 a.m. while the rest of the house sleeps? Voice control certainly makes navigating the increasingly labyrinthine menu options of a modern media center easier, but it requires a lot of noise.
Do I really want this to be the primary way I interact with my entertainment center from now on?
There is a solution for those who want to use Kinect quietly. As with the Xbox 360 Kinect, you can use gesture controls to interact with the Xbox One Kinect. Unfortunately, the Kinect's gesture functionality is inconsistent at best. The camera is slow to respond, and the gestures it takes to move from screen to screen are goofy and awkward. In a few different living rooms, I still have to get the Kinect to respond consistently to my gestures. In one of the setups I tested, I would watch a movie while leaning back with my feet in the air. The Kinect regularly read my feet as my hands, suddenly paused playback or switched apps.
Although I've never had much confidence in the concept of camera-based gesture control, I'm ready to see the potential of voice control for myself. And while voice functionality is way ahead, the Xbox One Kinect has not yet convinced me that both approaches will be the way of the future.
It's also possible to do everything the Kinect does with just the controller, but it's a more difficult process. When you want to record a clip of your gameplay using Kinect, you can say "Xbox, record this" to start the recorder. To do the same with the controller, you need to pause the game with the home button, snap the Game DVR app to the side of the screen and start recording. Go back later and edit your clip to take out the part where you left the game interrupted. (Most of the Xbox One's game recording features aren't yet available so we won't be able to judge them until after the console launches.) Likewise, you can snap an app to the side of your screen, just say, "Snap Xbox, Internet Explorer". .. or you can pause the game with the Home button, select the Snap feature, choose an app to snap, then double-tap the Home button to return to the game. It works, but the Xbox One was clearly designed with voice control in mind.
Break. Take a moment to read this last paragraph. Kind of a mess, right? If a console ever needed a huge manual with flowcharts and buttons, this is it. Xbox One may no longer require an internet connection or Kinect, but will require a butler or tutor nearby.
The operating system is full of squares
The box, the controller, the camera … none of these matters if the software that controls it is not up to the snuff. The Xbox One's operating system doesn't feel quite finished yet, but it's a decent start with a solid foundation.
The user interface reflects the angular design of the console itself. The start screen and operating system are reminiscent of Microsoft Windows 8, a collection of squares and rectangles arranged in an aesthetically pleasing but sometimes difficult to read mess.
The start screen is in the middle of a three-part operating system arranged from left to right: "Pins", "Home" and "Store". You can use your voice or a controller to navigate between all three screens, quickly navigate your game and app library, select Microsoft's video-on-demand service, or browse the games or programs you've recently used.
The system allows you to "pin" all kinds of apps on the left, which makes it very easy to have your favorite things close at hand. The entire layout of the home screen, including your custom theme color, stays everywhere on your profile. When I sign in to a second Xbox One it immediately shows my entire profile, no must, no fuss. Hey cool it's all my stuff!
Let's break down the homepage. Here is the pin screen, which is to the left of the home screen:
I pinned Dead Rising 3, sure, but I also pinned the movie The World & # 39; s End because I want to rent it but didn't have the time. When I click the movie's pin, I go to the Xbox Video Store page, where I can rent it when I'm finally ready to watch it. I wish I could pin individual Netflix movies or series, but I think we can hope the functionality will come in the future.
The bottom row of the home page consists of four rotating slots for your recent games, with the bottom right square dedicated to the drive and the right two slots in your game library locked and Snap multitasking activated instantly up the Snap sidebar.
On the right, three panels advertise content available in the Xbox Store. You can access it by rotating a few more squares to the right. The storefront is divided into four gigantic areas, and while it doesn't seem like the most constructive use of screen real estate, at least it looks good.
The store itself is awfully fancy and feels like a digital marketplace connected to the way we browse and buy media. For example, when you go to a movie's page in the Xbox Video app, you get the usual options to rent, buy, or check out a trailer.
But they also have an embedded feed of the Rotten Tomatoes page of the film with the Tomatometer rating at the top and the corresponding reviews at the bottom. Select any of these reviews and Internet Explorer will instantly open for you to read.
Very cool. (And yes, when I'm done writing this review, I'll be celebrating by watching The World & # 39; s End. I'm pretty excited.)
It's worth noting that most of the Xbox One's apps (including Netflix), as well as multiplayer functionality for all of the console's games, require users to sign up for Xbox Live's gold service, which is $ 60 each on top of membership fees Year costs you pay for the services. Microsoft did a good job of helping users organize all of their content in one place, but it's a bit difficult to pay a gatekeeper just to access content that has already been purchased elsewhere.
The operating system lacks some small but noticeable functions. The Xbox 360 allowed a thumbstick inversion preference to be assigned to each profile, but the Xbox One did not. I loved this feature and am amazed that it isn't in the new console. In addition, it's currently impossible to get an idea of how much space your Xbox One has – how much space games and apps are taking up, how much space is left on the console's 500GB hard drive. You can only manage your game installations by selecting individual games and deleting local content. It's a surprising oversight that adds significantly to the overall sense of impenetrability of the operating system. Why on earth would Microsoft leave out such a basic and important function as disc management?
"Snap" split-screen multitasking may be cool at some point, but it's not here yet
Die "Snap" -Funktion der Xbox One ist ein reiner Ausdruck der Multitasking-Fähigkeiten der Konsole. Das ideale Xbox One-Multitasking-Szenario lautet wie folgt: Sie sehen sich ein Basketballspiel im Fernsehen an und entscheiden, dass Sie eines Ihrer Spiele spielen möchten, möglicherweise Dead Rising 3. Sie sagen "Xbox, gehen Sie zu Dead Rising 3". Die Xbox wechselt sofort vom TV-Feed zum Spiel.
Sie spielen eine Weile und entscheiden dann, ob Sie die Punktzahl des Spiels überprüfen möchten. Sie sagen also "Xbox, Snap-TV". Auf der rechten Seite des Bildschirms wird eine kleinere Version Ihres TV-Feeds angezeigt, mit der Sie sehen können, was im Spiel vor sich geht, während Sie weiter spielen. (Oder Sie können das tun, was ich im obigen Bild getan habe, und Ihre Wii U mit Wind Waker über den HDMI-Eingang der Xbox One ausführen.) Nachdem Sie beim Fernseher eingecheckt haben, sagen Sie "Xbox unsnap" und der Fernseher geht aus. Rückkehr des Spiels zum Vollbildmodus.
Sie müssen keine Apps ausrichten. Sie können auch einfach zwischen der Ausführung im Vollbildmodus wechseln. Die meisten Nicht-Spiel-Apps werden im Hintergrund angehalten und warten darauf, dass Sie zu ihnen zurückkehren. Hier ist ein Szenario, das mehr mit der Art und Weise übereinstimmt, wie ich fernsehe: Ich streame eine Fernsehsendung auf Netflix. Ich beschließe, eine Pause einzulegen und ein bisschen zu spielen. Ich fordere den Kinect auf, die Apps zu wechseln, und die Netflix-Show wird sofort angehalten und das Spiel gestartet. Wenn Sie zurückschalten, kann meine Netflix-Show ohne Unterbrechung fortgesetzt werden.
So interagieren wir bereits mit unseren Computern und Smartphones. Warum also nicht unsere Spielekonsolen? Ich mag es wirklich, dass die Xbox One diese Art von Funktionalität bietet, weil es wirklich schön ist, auf so viele Apps und Funktionen zugreifen zu können, während Sie Ihr Spiel pausieren. Andere Konsolen wie Wii U, 3DS, Vita und PS4 ermöglichen Multitasking, aber die Xbox One ist die erste, die mehrere Kernspiele und Apps gleichzeitig laufen lässt, und sie kann sogar zwei Dinge anzeigen – beispielsweise Netflix Film und ein Spiel – sofort laufen. Aber wie so viele andere coole Ideen der Xbox One fühlt sich Multitasking unvollendet an und hat einige bedeutende Probleme.
Für den Anfang gibt es Snap-Funktionen. Sagen Sie während des Spielens "Xbox Snap-Anwendung", und das Spiel wird angehalten und eine Seitenleiste wird angezeigt. Folgendes ist passiert, als ich Internet Explorer über ein laufendes Spiel von Forza 5 geschnappt habe:
Gute Idee. Leider ist das Ganze träge und schwer zu bedienen. Ich habe noch nie gesehen, dass eine Snap-App ein Spiel verlangsamt, aber manchmal liefen die Apps selbst mit spürbarer Verzögerung. Als ich eine URL in Internet Explorer eingab, bewegte sich die Bildschirmtastatur einige Sekundenbruchteile hinter meinen Tastendrücken. Es ist auch sehr schwierig zu sagen, was zum Teufel in jeder gefangenen App möglich ist, und einige Apps können überhaupt nicht gefangen werden.
Wenn ich die Xbox One verwende, wechsle ich meistens zwischen Apps im Großhandel und überspringe das Einrasten. Es fühlt sich einfach nicht intuitiv oder einfach an. Es könnte sein, dass die Verwendung einfacher wird, wenn ich mich mehr daran gewöhne und Microsoft die Übergänge glättet. Aber vorerst ist es schrecklich klobig.
Ein weiteres wichtiges Problem: Wenn Sie Musik oder eine TV-Show über Ihr laufendes Spiel aufnehmen, können Sie den Ton für beide Dinge nicht anpassen. Ich stellte fest, dass das Aufnehmen einer TV-Show über mein Spiel das Audio des Spiels völlig übertönte, und ich hatte keine Möglichkeit, eine der beiden aufgenommenen Anwendungen stummzuschalten oder die Stummschaltung aufzuheben. Laut Microsoft passt Snap das Audio automatisch an, um die primäre App lauter zu machen, und es wird untersucht, wie Benutzer die Lautstärke selbst steuern können. So wie es aussieht, ist die Lautstärke ein Dealbreaker – ich würde gerne ein Basketballspiel im Hintergrund spielen, während ich Assassin's Creed spiele, aber nur, wenn ich den einen oder anderen stumm schalten kann.
Multitasking ist schwer zu analysieren und ich kann nicht sagen, welche Apps gerade ausgeführt werden
Wenn Sie ein Spiel spielen und zu einem anderen wechseln, wird das erste Spiel, das Sie gespielt haben, beendet. Es gibt keine Warnung, nein "Sie sind dabei, dieses Spiel zu beenden, alle nicht gespeicherten Fortschritte gehen verloren. Fahren Sie fort?" Nichts dergleichen. Es ist kurzerhand und unmittelbar. Wenn Sie die Ziege Ihres Mitbewohners holen möchten, warten Sie, bis er ein Rennen in Forza gewinnen wird, und rufen Sie dann "Xbox! Gehen Sie zu Dead Rising 3!" The Xbox will immediately switch apps, and he'll lose all of his race progress. Yikes
It's also possible to accidentally do that to yourself: At one point last weekend I told my Xbox One to "Go to Comedy Central." It heard that as "Go to LocoCycle" and immediately flipped to the new game, dropping my in-progress Dead Rising mission. This was partly user error—the correct command for the TV should've been "Xbox, watch Comedy Central." But that such a small mistake caused me to immediately lose my unsaved progress is a significant problem.
As is the case with hard drive management, it can be tough to get a sense of just what's going on underneath the Xbox One's multitasking hood. I'm never quite sure which apps are suspended and which ones have quit, nor can I tell what will happen if I open a new app. The Xbox One operating system lacks a bird's-eye view; there's no way to cycle through your currently running apps. As a result, switching from program to program is a touch disorienting, like feeling your way through a dark room without a clear sense of where you've been.
The potential is here for very cool stuff. I can easily imagine an Xbox One that can keep multiple games in saved states, similar to how a smartphone works. We'd switch from game to game, always returning to the moment when we left off. Or imagine you're watching a TV show and switching over to a game while the commercials run, keeping an eye on your muted TV feed in snap mode to see when the commercials are over. I wouldn't put it past Microsoft to engineer that kind of stuff into future versions of their operating system. While the execution's not quite there yet, the core ideas are solid.
The big games are good, the little ones less so
Console launches are notorious for lacking quality games. Happily, the Xbox One bucks this trend, offering three substantial launch exclusives that are all a good deal of fun to play. Less happily, some of the console's smaller downloadable games are disappointing, and don't quite fulfill their role as caulk in the spaces between the big games.
We'll have a more in-depth review of the Roman-themed action game Ryse: Son of Rome later in the week, but just based on what I've played at preview events, the game plays well (if a bit simply) and it looks gorgeous. It's the kind of game you'll want to break out to show off your new console, and it's nice that it takes place outside of the usual war/sci-fi/fantasy video game realms.
Forza Motorsport 5 is a quintessential Forza racing game; clean, elegant, with a terrific sense of speed and sharp 1080p, 60FPS graphics. Dead Rising 3 is the most beefy, enjoyable launch game of the lot—I went into greater detail in my review, but suffice to say, if you're getting an Xbox One, strongly consider picking it up.
The highest-profile of Microsoft's exclusive downloadable games—LocoCycle, Crimson Dragon—disappoint. Killer Instinct appears to be a pretty cool fighting game, though I haven't spent much time with it, nor have I had enough time to sufficiently critique Zoo Tycoon or Powerstar Golf.
My sense is that these games are all fine, and will please their niche audiences, but won't give most mainstream gamers a compelling reason to play. Then again, Peggle 2 arrives exclusively on the Xbox One in just a couple of weeks, and may well wind up being the mid-sized glue that holds the rest of the Xbox One launch library together.
Much has been made of the Xbox One's graphical prowess (or lack thereof), and the consensus seems to be that it is a little less powerful and more difficult for third parties to develop for than its direct next-gen competitor, the PlayStation 4. That could well mean that the Xbox One will get sub-par versions of games that are released on both systems.
I haven't yet had a chance to try any third-party games on Xbox One, as publishers didn't send copies in time for this review. So I can't yet say for certain how the Xbox One versions of Assassin's Creed IV, Call of Duty: Ghosts or Battlefield 4 run compared to their PS4 and PC counterparts. Rest assured that we'll have thorough coverage of myriad performance and graphics comparisons between the two consoles over the next couple of weeks.
My experience with multiplayer games on Xbox One is also limited. Stephen and I created a two-player party and worked through some Dead Rising 3 and Ryse: Son of Rome co-op with no issues, but it remains to be seen how the party- and multiplayer infrastructure will hold up once the console is released to the public and large groups of people begin playing games like Call of Duty and Battlefield. I'll update this review with more on the Xbox One's multiplayer once we've tested more games and seen how it all holds up in the wild.
Overall, the Xbox One's launch lineup of games is strong. It's got a superb graphical showcase in Ryse, an intricate open-world game in Dead Rising 3 and a beautiful racing game in Forza 5. All three are enjoyable and well-made, and none feel like they would've been possible on a last-gen console, albeit for different reasons.
The lineup may be strong for a console at launch, but the future, as always, is a question mark. We can expect Bungie's online shooter Destiny as well as Respawn's much-hyped robot shooting game Titanfall—the latter an Xbox One/360/PC exclusive—to arrive in the early months of next year. Ubisoft's promising-looking cross-platform action game Watch Dogs and their next-gen racing game The Crew come shortly thereafter.
Past that, know we're getting another Halo, SWERY's bizarre-looking D4, Capy Games' neat-sounding Below, and Remedy's mysterious Quantum Break. Those games will all arrive…. sometime, as well as other cross-platform games like Dragon Age III and Dying Light. It's likely that Microsoft is currently throwing around its considerable financial heft to line up exciting exclusive games for their console, but only time will tell how it'll pan out. As with any new console, buying an Xbox One at launch is an act of trust. Because the console isn't backwards compatible with the Xbox 360's vast library of games, that trust will need to be fairly substantial.
With great ambition comes a curious sort of precariousness. With so many interlocking parts, it only takes a small misfire to gum up the whole works. The Xbox One will doubtless sell hundreds of thousands of units in its first weeks on the market, and hundreds of thousands of people will plug it into their home entertainment centers. And so a hundred thousand town bowmen will let fly a hundred thousand arrows, and plenty of them will strike the mighty dragon's weak spots.
I admire what Microsoft is trying to do with the Xbox One, and I'm rooting for them to give their console that final push to get it to where it needs to be. The whole thing is almost there. The Kinect almost works well enough to get me to use it all the time. The TV integration is almost smooth enough to make me plug it into the heart of my living-room setup. Multitasking almost works well enough to get me checking the internet while I play games.
The skeptic in me says that while many technology manufacturers seem hell-bent on making the next great convergence device, technology tends to diverge. New devices are more likely to take on a role we didn't know we wanted (e.g. people now own a smartphone, a laptop and a tablet) instead of pulling together multiple roles we didn't realize could be combined. Successful convergence devices like the iPhone will forever inspire others to swim upstream, attempting to replicate a one-in-a-million success. Will our living rooms ever be governed by a single device? And if so, will that device be the Xbox One?
The Xbox One is trying some very cool new things, and it's launching alongside some very fun games. But there are so many rough edges, and the software feels incomplete. Do you need to have an Xbox One?
Note: This review will be updated throughout the coming weeks to ensure we've covered all the basics and adequately tested all the currently incomplete features with a growing Xbox One userbase. All Kotaku reviews that carry a "Not Yet" are intended to eventually end up as a "No" or "Yes". For a console, that will happen if/when the system either proves hopeless or winds up having some must-play, must-own games.