The Xbox One has had one of the most rocky roads to launch in the history of gaming. It is nearly six months since the console was revealed to vast criticism and one of the most tumultuous introductions of any gaming console ever. That is why it is remarkable that the console is coming to shelves competing with Sony’s PlayStation 4 with an entirely revamped strategy.
A lot of things have changed since that fateful night in Redmond with the console’s awfully handled DRM policy and an always-watching Kinect having been extracted from the console. Despite all of that changing though, the Xbox One has always been able to keep hold of its identity as an all-in-one entertainment hub for games, TV and the internet.
With the console only a day away, hardware reviews have started hitting for the console and it is time to see if the Xbox One really could be the all-in-one entertainment experience.
Destructoid (Dale North)
“The Xbox One is a powerful PC connected to a cutting-edge sensor array that handles every living-room duty, from television watching to video streaming to web browsing, and it does it all with a multitasking UI that supports voice and motion control. This has to be the most full-featured game console offering ever brought to market. It does so many things that it’s hard to keep track of them all!
The way we see it, gamers likely have a good all-in-one gaming/media box now with the Xbox 360. If you’re dying to add voice-controlled television channel surfing to the mix, the Xbox One will definitely get you there. The console will also give you access to a couple of decent launch titles, and a fantastic new controller to play them with. But you’re going to have to make the call on whether these things are worth $499 to you. If not, wait. The Xbox One will still be around when you’re ready.”
“But in many ways, the Xbox One’s bold direction for the future is well in place. The integration of voice controls and its media strategy are a boon to everyone, and the ability to run apps while playing games is something we now want on every gaming console we have. That it has a handful of strong, exclusive games at launch only supports its legitimacy as a gaming console and not just an entertainment hub.
The Xbox One is an impressive marriage of software and hardware that raises the bar in terms of what we expect from a living-room machine. Looking forward more than it looks back, the Xbox One feels like it’s from the future.”
CVG (Andy Robinson)
“There are clear improvements that make the new Xbox stand out, just enough, from its predecessor. The controller has been meticulously refined, the visuals are expectantly better and the new multi-tasking interface is surprisingly excellent.
But Xbox One is a console that feels like it’s missing something. Granted, we all know what that is, considering the extraordinary reversals of its more disruptive philosophies. But, as with Sony’s platform, there’s a clear sense that this is a platform that has laid foundations that it can build on for a whole generation.”
Wired (Chris Kohler)
“We tried out Snap in various configurations and everything seemed to work well. But it again illustrated a problem with Xbox One’s interface. We could not figure out at all how to stop controlling the snapped window and switch back to the main one. We tried everything we could think of until we finally just closed all the windows and stopped using Snap. Finally, I said, “Xbox, help.” This did in fact take me to a remarkably polished help menu, where I could access video tutorials including exactly what I needed. As it turned out, you can say “Xbox, switch” or you can double-tap the Xbox button on the controller – neither of which I would have thought of.
And that pretty much encapsulated my experience with Xbox One: It does a lot of things, and in a way that you may find extremely helpful, but you’ll need to take the time to learn how to do them – and learn by trial and error when it’s best to just stop trying.”
Kotaku (Kirk Hamilton)
“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 isalmost 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.”
Score (Should you buy?): Not Yet
The Telegraph (Tom Hoggins)
“Reviewing a video games console at launch is about judging potential and ease of use. Similarly, buying one is buying into that potential. The last generation brought a sea change in that video games console now evolve and improve over their lifetime. The Xbox One seems set up to do just that. And as a starting point, it’s a very good one. The dashboard is dynamic, easy to use and malleable enough that when more content becomes available, you can curate it how you wish. That initial wave of content, while certainly capable enough, doesn’t yet have the power to make the console a must-have, especially considering the chunky price tag. Currently an unessential luxury, then, but one with a bright future.”
Ars Technica (Kyle Orland)
“As a video game console, the Xbox One offers about what you’d expect from a new Microsoft console: a big, heavy box (though quieter than you might expect), more impressive specs (though less than what you might expect after eight years), an improved controller (though still with a few odd oversights), and some good exclusive games (more reviews are coming but look into Dead Rising 3,Forza 5, Powerstar Golf, and Zoo Tycoon). As the central hub of a living room entertainment complex, though, Microsoft has a much harder sell. The company needs to prove the Xbox really adds enough value to be worthwhile and to justify the extra cost of the included Kinect over its similar competition.
At this point, the voice control and multitasking functions that are meant to really set the Xbox One apart are just shy of being good enough to really push the system over the top. They’re nice conveniences, to be sure, but there are enough kinks in the execution to limit their effectiveness. Even if those are smoothed out with future updates, it’s unclear that these features are worth $100 (though that reason is separate from any compelling exclusive games or visual/computational powerhouses).”
Complex (Michael Rougeau)
“When all the disparate pieces come together the Xbox one is extremely impressive. You’ll be pleased with the new Kinect when you’re playing a game and want to look something up on the internet and you can snap Internet Explorer to one side while continuing to play, or when you want to check whether a TV show has started yet without interrupting your movie on Netflix.
Even without the snap feature, switching between apps on Xbox One is incredibly easy and painless. That’s one of the things that helps realize Microsoft’s vision for an all-in-one living room machine. With no delays and few hiccups, it’s easy to use the Xbox One for everything. You’ll want to, even.”
Time (Matt Peckham)
“Let’s talk price, because the Xbox One is $100 more than Sony’s PS4. At $500, no games included, it puts Microsoft in PS3 launch price territory – an unenviable position back in 2006.
But this is 2013, and $500 happens to be the cost of an entry-level iPad, a tablet Apple’s sold 170 million of in less than three years time. That, and $500 buys you more than a souped-up gaming portal: the Xbox One is a content assimilation engine, a vanguard move into a market the competition’s still toying around in by comparison. It’s an immature, somewhat glitchy content assimilation engine at this stage, sure, and it shares the PS4â€²s launch game weaknesses if you’re coming at it from the gaming side, but if you’re an early adopter or you’re already invested in Xbox Live’s social ecosystem, think of it as the jumping off point for a fascinating experiment. If it’s successful – and I’m not saying it will be; ask me again in four or five years – it has the potential to change everything about TV and streaming media and the living room as we’ve known it for decades.”
Through browsing the reviews, it is clear to see that Microsoft is trying to create something that is more than its competitors. The console has its sights set higher than either the PlayStation 4 or Wii U. Microsoft is trying to bring together a console that ties together the entire living room. While the PlayStation 4 is endeavoring to be the best games console, Microsoft is trying to create a technological revolution in the ilk of the iPhone.
That isn’t to say that it isn’t a great games console as well. While it varies as to which is better, both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 launch libraries are comparable. While it seems like the Xbox One certainly has some rough edges that it needs to iron out, it has the potential to be a wonderful device.
Xbox One hits store shelves November 22, 2013.