While the groomsmen at my wedding banded together to buy me a PS4 that was delivered to my door by Amazon at launch day, it’s taken me a little longer to secure an Xbox One. I’ve called around finally, my local Gamestop had one, so yesterday I zipped over to pick it up. A console, a plug and play charger, and a game later, and I was now fully next-gened out (overlooking the Wii U, a debate for another day).
I’ve had about 24 hours with the system now, and though this may be a bit late for a “first impressions” piece, I thought this may help those considering buying a One for themselves, or to see if those that do own one might agree with me.
There’s good and bad to every system, and here’s what I like and don’t about the Xbox One so far.
Don’t – Price
$500 is a lot for a new video game system, especially so when the $100 price difference from the PS4 is for a piece of equipment that I’m not completely sold on yet, but more on the Kinect later. With everything I purchase plus tax, it was $630 just to get the system home with one controller and one game. Pretty steep, and too high a barrier for most.
Don’t – Size
The Xbox One is a beast, much like the original Xbox was. It’s the largest piece of electronic equipment I’ve bought in at least a decade, outside of my various home PC towers. Sitting on my TV stand, it dwarfs everything from my modem to my cable box to my PS4. It feels nearly twice as heavy and looks twice as big as the PS4, and in an age when new electronics are usually smaller, it’s weird. Also a size problem is that it still comes with a big power brick you have to find a place for, though it’s smaller than the 360s was.
Do – Setup
Setup was a breeze, and I had no problems connecting my console to the internet or transferring my Xbox Live account to my new system. Kinect calibration took minutes at most, and the infamous day one patch we’ve been hearing about was simple. I was up and running in maybe 15 minutes once it was plugged in.
Do – The Controller
In my opinion, one of Xbox’s greatest strengths has been its controller (since it redesigned the hulking one for original Xbox at least), and Xbox One’s is no exception. It’s small, light and feels exactly like the already great 360 one, but streamlined. I haven’t felt the haptic feedback on the triggers yet, but that’s supposed to be cool. The only things I’m not a fan of are the new RB and LB bumpers which you have to press with the side of your finger, it feels like, and the fact that the controllers still run on AA batteries, and I had to buy a USB charger separately for $25.
Don’t – Kinect Gestures
I was afraid this would happen, but my TV is simply too close to my couch for me to use Kinect’s gesture system effectively, even with the new, more forgiving Kinect 2.0. Granted my space is smaller than most, but it was still disappointing. When I was finally far enough away to use the gestures just to try them, I wasn’t that impressed. It’s not very smooth or intuitive to flick through menus or press tiles with your hand in the air, and I think the system still needs work.
Do – Kinect Voice Controls
That said, I think the voice-activated part of Kinect is pretty cool, and works better than most other voice controlled tech I’ve used. I’d say it’s accurate 90-95% of the time, which is pretty good, and there is something cool about saying “Xbox On” or “Xbox Netflix.” Sometimes, it actually is more useful than trying to navigate with a control. I could say “Xbox go to Party” when I couldn’t for the life of me find how to do so with my controller
Don’t – Home Interface
Maybe it’s going to take me a while to get used to this, but I’m not the hugest fan of MIcrosoft’s tile based interface here. I think PS4’s is easier to use, and I’ve had trouble finding what should be relatively simple things (like the aforementioned XBL party area). It’s also a little disorienting when you open something, then go back to home and it shrinks to a medium sized window. It can get a little Inception-y with menus within menus. And if I open something like Skype, I’m still not sure how to exit out of it yet, as opposed to PS4’s simple “close application” tool.
Do and Don’t – Games
This is a mixed bag, and reflects my own personal tastes and experience so I’m a little hesitant to classify it as good or bad. I personally have a games problem with the system, and I’m not sure what I’m going to buy for the system over the next few months before Titanfall comes out. I bought Ghosts because Call of Duty is better with an Xbox controller in my estimation, but I don’t know what else to pick up. Cross platform games like Assassin’s Creed 4 and Need for Speed Rivals I’ve already played and beaten on PS4. I don’t play sports games like FIFA or Madden. And as for Microsoft’s three big launch exclusives? Ryse, by all accounts is terrible and not worth $60. I’ve never had the patience for racing sims like Forza (or Gran Turismo). And I HATED the first two Dead Rising games, probably more so than most people, so I’m hesitant about the third. I honestly just don’t know what to buy for the system given those options.
So far, the Xbox One doesn’t seem to be all that much better or worse than the PS4, despite what people would have you believe. I would say overall I may prefer the PS4 more because of little details like what I’ve mentioned, but honestly the systems are far more similar than different. I think the increased price is a bummer, and for as much as I like signing in with my face and calling out commands, I’m not sure if Kinect is worth the $100 gap at this point.
So far, it seems like you’re going to buy one system or the other for its exclusives, but honestly, there aren’t that many worthwhile exclusives out yet, and won’t be for months. This battle may heat up more then, but right now, the two system really just aren’t that different.