Xbox One Happy Chappy!

Well it has been a week now since I received my nice shiny new Xbox One, today also being the release of the PS4 in Europe I thought I would give my thoughts on the Xbox.  I have now got to grips with all the new tech and have played a fair bit (mainly FIFA14) on the console so I thought I would share my thoughts on my new toy.

machineThe first thing you notice when opening up the box is the sheer size of the thing.  It is approximately an inch or two larger all round, but this is hardly surprising with the hardware beneath this outer shell.  The Kinect is of a more solid build than it’s predecessor, in part due to the removal of need for movement.

Once set up the expected software update began which didn’t take long at all.  This update apparently removes all of the ‘always online’ and other stuff Microsoft quickly changed after initial public uproar at the original Xbox One announcement.

Next I logged into my existing Xbox Live account.  This brought over all of my existing records, friends, etc. and now with the use of Kinect I am automatically logged in when in front of the camera.

Whilst no Kinect specific games are available at launch (well, worth mentioning) the Kinect is used in a number of launch titles and I have to say there is a massive improvement in the speech and movement recognition which is near perfect, as I had hoped.

The first place I looked at was the apps store.  This is currently limited to a few apps but they are pretty good ones.  Upload studio for example enables you to use the DVR recordings of your games and edit the clips for upload to Xbox or your own Skydrive to share with anyone you wish.  There are also a few TV ondemand apps, plus the Twitch app, although this is only for viewing other  broadcasters at this time (streaming will be available via the Xbox without additional hardware early 2014).

The store also contains full games, available from day of release and after a quick view the prices are thankfully very similar to buying from Amazon and much cheaper than in store prices unlike Xbox 360 games which sold games over a year old at full RRP.  Within this part of the store was also the ‘Killer Instinct’ free to play beat’em up (you can pay for more characters) and the Kinect Sports ‘preseason’ demo which is a good introduction to the power of Kinect 2.0 in full use prior to the games release later next year.xb1

Next I looked at a couple of the cards that had come with the Xbox, one was a Day One achievement, whilst a very minor benefit the new way for entering codes or gift vouchers is brilliant.  Simply hold up the code to the Kinect camera and it automatically reads it into the system.

Another of the new features is the snap function, this didn’t seem to be that great when announced but I have since enjoyed this functionality by playing FIFA whilst having the live Barclays Premiership goals streaming to the side.

You can also snap your TV to the side but as my Xbox is not connected to our main TV this was of no use to me, however I have since used my Kindle to stream live TV to the Xbox and therefore can now watch TV at the same time as playing games, which whilst isn’t that exciting in my mind, could be quite cool say if you wanted to check up on sports whilst playing a game.

As with the PS4 the Xbox One has gameplay recording facilities, enabling you to upload gameplay videos to Xbox Live or even to your Skydrive to share with your friends or perhaps on to Youtube.  As an experienced gaming Youtuber I often found it inconvenient to have to connect my laptop up to my Xbox360 to be able to record it, also to keep deleting clips I didn’t want so that I just had the golden moments.  Now with the XboxOne this is all a dream.  Some games such as FIFA14 will automatically record the last 30 seconds of gameplay for particular events, what triggers these I do not know, however it seems to have a mystical sixth sense to know what goals I actually want to record and which to ignore.  If it doesn’t notify you it has kept a clip you can always simply say “Xbox Record That” and instantly it will save your last 30 seconds of gameplay to the drive.  If you want slightly longer clips of up to 5 minutes, ytyou can use the snap feature of game DVR, which is constantly keeping your last 5 minutes and you just instruct, via controller or voice how long to keep and when you want to keep it.  Later on you can review all of your clips using the upload app and save any you want to keep for editing or that you don’t want auto deleted as the hard drive feels up.  I am loving this feature as I simply edit the clips afterwards and then upload to my Skydrive where I can then edit them on my laptop for uploading to Youtube which is far superior to the nightmare of my old 360.  Those wanting to record longer clips will need to use a capture card, or join numerous of clips together using the in built software but so far I have never really felt the need for longer clips.

Now to the main event, the games.  In the week leading up to launch I started to get very nervous with all reports of the PS4 managing 1080p but the Xbox only having 720p for the games Call of Duty:Ghosts and Battlefield4.  However now that I have played them, it does not bother me in the slightest, they all look and play amazingly well.  The Xbox One does play at 1080p but the aforementioned games developers made the choice to keep it downgraded to keep the frame rate high with the tight launch deadlines.  As developers get more time with the hardware they will be able to code them to a higher resolution which will bring the (hardly noticeable difference) between the two consoles on par.

So if you couldn’t already tell (did you not read the title) I am over the moon with my new console and I am looking forward to many years of gaming fun!

See my next blog for brief reviews of the games I have played so far on the Xbox One.

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