I’m a believer in the Xbox One. Although the recent reports of my console’s lack of processing power may have had me waiver in that belief, the platform is still in it’s infancy and we will certainly have many updates in the future. In fact, I just got an email from the Xbox Team with the subtext of “stick in there, we’re tweaking it”. So I’m optimistic – and playing a fantastic, sort-of exclusive piece of software like Titanfall makes me sort-of happy I upgraded. But I still have some issues.
The new dashboard takes a very segmented approach to executing tasks. Normally I like this – Linux was founded on a similar principle; applications do a specific thing and do it well. But in a gamer’s case, I think that a single cohesive system would work better. (That said, not all Xbox users are now gamers. Is this good or bad?).
The amount of time it takes to exit from a game, select an app (like the Achievements or the party system), and wait for it to load creates a barrier of entry to what should be a simple task. These features are now unnecessarily more robust, and hard to figure out. I want to do something on the dashboard , quickly, and then return to my game, but the new applications are full of hi-definition graphics and blocky menus that are aesthetically pleasing but often unresponsive and inefficient sources of information. When did I receive that party invite? No way to tell. Perhaps some sort of streamlined in-game mini-dashboard running DOS Prompt is in order. Maybe I’m just stuck in the past.
The Xbox experience should be seamless, but it is not. One can hope that this is just a matter of optimization that will be improved in the future.
The video sharing is a fabulous idea. Automatically capturing moments of interest and having the “Record That” command at the ready allows your war stories to come to life and be shared instantly. The problem is that very frequently, games record moments they shouldn’t. I’m still not sure if these video clips are then uploaded and spread around to all my friends, but I certainly don’t want anyone to have to spend their bandwidth watching 40 clips of me playing Peggle or idling on the Battlefield spawn screen.
The auto-capture needs to be smarter (or have an option to be disabled!), and the clips you actually wanted to record should be easier to find in the feed.
The new Kinect is a noticeable improvement over the old Kinect. I haven’t had any problems with voice commands or facial recognition. The automation is also great, the Xbox one logs me in when I sit down. But this automation is also one of the reasons it bothers me, as it kept trying to log me in while playing on a secondary account. Allowing the Kinect for use with in-game chat is also a double-edged sword. It’s always nice to have more people able to communicate, but a lot of the time you just hear ambient household noise while the actual gamer stays silent, possibly oblivious to his Kinect transmitting in the first place.
And finally, I’m still on the fence about the new controller. I do like the analog sticks, both the height of them and the design of the tops. I also like the force-feedback triggers. (Although Forza is the only game I’ve played that utilized them well). But I’m not sure about the D-Pad (which is ironic because I was always complaining about the old one…). I’m also not a big fan of the bumpers – they seem more difficult to press and my trigger fingers get uncomfortable. The “Back” and “Start” buttons have been replaced by… do those have names yet? I do think this is a step forward, although it will be up to developers to map these buttons intuitively.
I loved the Xbox 360 – and I can love Xbox One too. But that can only happen when I’m not hating it. Hopefully that will happen less often once this new console gets out of first gear.