This post is a follow-up to our next-gen preview.
Xbox On", who knew that those two words would cause so much excitement, if you read last month's console preview you'd know that it would make the ladies weak at the knees, and even this LIVIC Editor felt his knees wobble a little at how smooth it all worked. The Xbox One has indeed finally arrived, showering you in voice commands, stunning graphics and the Xbox Live service we have all come to know and love.
What has surprised me the most is how well the voice commands work with the Kinect, seeing all the previews demonstrating it with ease I was cautious to get my hopes up. How wrong was I? The first thing to do was download my free copy of FIFA 14 (#Winning). Gone are the days where you plug in 25 digit codes, and then look for where you made the mistake, now it's as simple as "Xbox, use code" and holding up the QR Code to the Kinect. A lot of people criticised the compulsory use of the Kinect but it's with simple things like this that it's worth it. It doesn't end there though, scored an absolutely wonder goal in FIFA? "Xbox, record that", want to edit the clip right now? "Xbox, Snap" and then go straight in to GameDVR. It's so slick and easy to do, and it feels a million miles away from the previous generation.
The GameDVR has to be one of my favourite features, whether it was the 5 second clips on FIFA that cut out the amazing build up to a goal or the £100+ to shell out on a HD PVR, I have always been reluctant to record my games, but now with the Xbox One it has been made almost too easy. There's an Upload app that allows you to add commentary as well, so expect me to be posting some clips soon as Neymar bends one in to the top corner with "Neymar cuts inside, opens his body and.... GOOOLLLLLLLLLLLLL GOL GOL GOL GOL GOL!" over the top. There's even room for montages that can be up to 5 minutes long using the 5 Clip setting, there's definite room for upgrades and enhancements but for a launch app the Upload Studio is brilliant in my opinion. It can also upload files to your SkyDrive, so you can access them on your computer and put them on YouTube. The great thing about the Upload app is that you can view all of your friend’s clips as well just by going on their profile; it's so easy to do. My only dislike of the GameDVR is that when you do something the Xbox deems as special, such as score a volley/free kick or header on FIFA for example it will save the clip for you. As someone who regularly pulls off these special moments it can be a bit annoying to find your GameDVR filled with clips you didn't specifically choose, however it deletes them automatically so it's not a huge loss.
Now on to the controller, it's looks very similar to the 360 controller but it is leagues apart. The moment I took it out of the box and held it, it felt like I'd been holding it for years, it's the same as when you put your favourite pair of shoes on, your shoes that are just moulded to your feet. It's the same here, the controller just fits perfectly in to your hands, your fingers naturally wrap around the triggers and your thumbs gravitate towards the thumb sticks; it's a thing of beauty. Forget the birth of your first child, your wedding day or your graduation; this is a moment to behold. The thumb sticks feel a lot better than that on the 360, the grip feels a lot more durable and the motion feels a lot freer, the D-Pad is also a massive improvement from the 360. It's more defined in shape and much more precise, so on the odd occasion you use it, it will be ready. My one concern with the controller was the RB and LB buttons, they now pivot about their inner most corners, so rather than letting your fingers rest all the way across them your fingertips must be on their outer most corners. At first this was a real inconvenience especially when it’s my sprint button in FIFA, but after a few games your hands adjust to it and all is well.
So what has changed with respect to Xbox Live? There's now HD Avatars, my only annoyance with this is all your 360 owning friend's avatars now look terribly small. The new headset is so much better as well, the game sound adjusts when you put a headset in and the clarity of sounds through the headset is really good. The connection between the headset and controller is a lot sturdier now, and it looks like they are both built to last a very long time. The integration with the voice commands now makes accessing your party that much easier, a simply "Xbox, snap party" and it's all there ready for you to play with. I'm yet to work out how to mute recent players, I'm sure it's quite easy but for now I have to listen to my opponents grimace as I put 5+ goals past them.
The game selection at launch definitely leaves huge gaps to be filled, but that's to be expected at launch and the games on offer are high quality. So far I've only played Forza 5 and FIFA 14, they are noticeably better than their 360 counterparts, Forza 4 and FIFA 14 respectively. The graphics aren't the only thing that stands out though; it's the power of the Xbox that shines through. Forza 5 now features 16 player races and not a single one of them are AI, they use a Drivetar system whereby your race data is uploaded to the cloud and used to power the racers; such as where you take your apex on corners, your average speed and where you made a mistake. The cars therefore make human like mistakes, and depending on the level of the driver, can either drive flawlessly or slip up in the most bizarre ways. The same can be said for FIFA, no longer are there only two players challenging for the ball, now multiple players can challenge for the ball at one time. It's a small change but it adds to the realism, so is the addition of many authentic animations such as how players turn and pass, it's subtle but just adds an extra layer of realism.
So there you have it, the Xbox One has launched, early doubters of the Kinect will have to eat their words as it's integration into the system is brilliant and can only improve from here on out. I can't comment on the TV functionality, but with apps like Netflix I doubt many students will need to worry about hooking up their TV to their Xbox. The controller, as expected, is pushing towards perfection. All in all it's a great start to the next generation for Microsoft, and there's a lot of potential in this console, a few years down the line and we could be in for a real treat as develops unlock its full capacity.