Xbox. Think of witty post title.


Hello! I’m Dave, I’m pretty new to TBoD. I took a leap out of the shadows (and work frankly) to go to the #XboxOneTour that was on last week in Dublin, Ireland. I managed to play the Xbox One and it’s biggest titles. This is how I got on.

The Venue

Xbox Ireland kindly had the event in a proper theatre, this one in fact – The Ambassador. With the upstairs filled with FIFA 14 and Killer Instinct and the downstairs with the rest. Silly me thought it was a free bar but hey, Heineken at least do have Xbox green bottles!

The Console:

Whisper quiet while being in a plastic case, the Xbox One really didn’t struggle with a stuffy room and no real ventilation to speak of. In terms of accessibility of ports, it doesn’t fare as well of any of the 360 designs with only one port accessible on the side of the console. You won’t want to be plugging your XB1 controller directly into this console. The bind button is an odd inclusion due to Kinect being able to pair controllers, maybe this is a sign of a kinect-free bundle in the future?

The console itself really does remind me of a VCR but only in size, it’s really meant to disappear into the background. In the future, with Kinect, voice control, wireless accessories and digital game downloads this may be the first console you really won’t have to touch. You probably won’t want to touch it either; it is a total fingerprint and dust magnet.

The Controller:

For a controller that’s had ‘reportedly’ $100 million spent on it, I struggle to see where. The battery pack never bothered me on a 360 controller, and truth be told I never went back to a 360 controller after the event so I can’t say how big a difference it makes but it is certainly a more comfortable controller, mostly down to the soft and grippy finish it now has.

While everything still feels ‘just right’, the only big improvement I noticed is the triggers. There is a recurring and noticeable theme emerging with the Xbox One and that is logical decisions that seem unimpressive on paper but are just huge game changing things when you experience them. These triggers (when used properly by games) can really immerse you, driving around a track and being able to tell when you’re losing grip, when you’re hitting grass just by the feeling in each trigger is truly amazing and trumps any other Xbox One or PS4 controller feature I’ve had a chance to use. However, this wasn’t noticeable in any other game I played, another sign of potential to come I think.

Quick pro-tip, no more wired only controllers! Just plug a micro USB lead from your Xbox One into your controller and you’re good to go!

The Kinect:

I’ve only had a brief hands on with the Xbox One’s Kinect and it wasn’t used in a navigational capacity so I can’t comment on that functionality just yet. However, I can say from playing Kinect Sports Adventures that they are accurate enough. I’m not totally sold on them though, as it struggled to cope with 4 people playing Just Dance 2014, mixing up our characters and generally not working well. I won’t pass judgment though because it was in extreme circumstances, I’m sure it performs better at home.

The last game I got to use Kinect with was Battlefield 4, and it was very gimmicky. Although the ‘peek’ motion did work, it takes too long to kick into when you’re playing a 60 frames per second FPS. It doesn’t feel natural so I doubt that will be used too much. It does show that Kinect is being taken more seriously by game developers. Looking back to the first gen Kinect, you can see it will be used more, and maybe will finally fulfill it’s potential first shown in the Project Natal videos.

The UI:

The ‘Xbox One Interface’ or whatever Microsoft are calling it today (one rep referred to it as ‘Xbox Metro’ which even I knew was incorrect) is actually fantastic. While I haven’t’ had much time to play with it (I was told to not do that by reps) it switches insanely fast. Not that much different from the Xbox 360 dash but far far more streamlined. Pins look like they will finally be useful, and there is less advertising. Coming from advertising person, I oddly find it refreshing, you’re paying £40 a year for a service, ads shouldn’t be plentiful like they were on the Xbox 360.

Standout Games:

I’m only really going to talk about the most important games of the show in-depth. Here is a quick rundown of the games that didn’t stand out for me. Just Dance 4 is fun but clunky with more than 2 players. Kinect Sports was dull by the end of three laps. Lococycle reminded me of a weird and badly made Spy Hunter. Peggle 2 was AMAZING (but still… Peggle). Zoo Tycoon was adorable but sadly sat mostly unplayed for the entire evening.  I didn’t play Fifa 14.

Battlefield 4

BF4 is possibly the only multi-platform game I’ve played that has had a very noticeable benefit from moving to next-gen. 60 FPS (frames per second that is, not 60 First Person Shooters because that would be ridiculous) really does make a difference.

However, my only gripe is that the map we had at the demo was far too small to work with BF4’s controls (which are typically much more long-range), a lot of people were messing around with their sensitivity settings. This isn’t something you’d want to be doing during a limited time demo. The sound in BF4 really stands out too, most notably when my friend who came with me to the Xbox One Tour event laughing as I recoiled from an explosion. That’s immersion folks!

Call of Duty Ghosts:

Call of Duty Ghosts with shinier graphics.

Dead Rising 3:

Probably the demo with the most issues, Dead Rising 3 struggled to impress though a flawed demo. The demo itself had no objective bar kill zombies, which I found led to 10 minutes of aimlessly getting killed. The game does have a great sense of panic with the standout moment being seeing about 300 zombies in front of me, darting onto a truck and then killing them all with a combo of an RC chopper with knives for blades.

Its fun, but I couldn’t justify buying it for full price based on that demo. I do have to note that my friend experienced a crash during the demo so it might have been running on old code.

Forza:

The standout game of the show, Forza joined BF4 in really being the only games that felt.. worthy almost, of a next-gen title. The graphics, frame rate and the aforementioned impulse triggers really do come together to make a special gaming experience. It reminds me of the first game I played on the PS1, Gran Turismo. Just less Jeremy Clarkson for Forza 6 and I’ll be happy!

Ryse:

Pretty much the most confusing game of the show, Ryse was equal parts beautiful and engaging and disappointing. After 5 minutes, the spectacle, graphics and controls all wore off leaving a pretty repetitive game underneath.

Killer Instinct:

Very very surprising, I went into it thinking KI would be a dull F2P (Free to Play) beat-em-up because F2P isn’t fondly referred to by a lot of people. After playing it, I’m a convert, even though it had shocking graphics (as in, if it were 360 I’d be asking questions) the gameplay is quick, responsive and everything you could ask for in a Friday night after the pub game.

To sum it up, this was my Xbox One pre-order before the #XboxOneTour

  • Xbox One Console
  • Play and Charge Kit
  • 12 Month Membership
  • COD Ghosts
  • Ryse
  • Dead Rising 3
  • FIFA 14 (free with console)

After the #XboxOneTour it is now:

  • Xbox One Console
  • Play and Charge Kit
  • 12 Month Membership
  • COD Ghosts
  • Just Dance 2014 (I know.. I know..)
  • Battlefield 4
  • Forza Motorsport 5 (free with console)

In conclusion:

The Xbox is full of logical decisions that really do make you wonder “Why haven’t they done this before?” such as impulse triggers, snapping (I got IE up and it was surprisingly good) and probably tons more I haven’t had a chance to play with. These include features such as voice, the One Guide and more.

Ultimately, the Xbox One is a university graduate. It has worked hard during the original Xbox days to build a solid foundation. It had a fair few problems during it’s teenage years (RROD for one) and is now just about finished college, ready to step into the big world of work.

The Xbox shows real flashes of brilliance, smart thinking and potential, except that potential is yet to be demonstrated fully. Hopefully over the next few years the Xbox finally combines set-top boxes, apps, games into one and really delivers on the promise of a ‘Home Computer’ envisioned a long time ago by Microsoft.  From what I’ve tried, the Xbox One really is just a better version of the 360 at the moment. For me, on day one? That’s good enough.

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