Xbox One

Xbox One

Being the highly anticipated successor to Microsoft’s Xbox 360, the console has received mixed reviews over its lifetime. The Xbox One competes against the PlayStation 4 and Wii U in its generation, though there is more of a head-to-head console war against the sales and capabilities between Xbox and PlayStation due to the commercial failings and weaker hardware present in the Wii U. The Xbox One holds the title of being the first console to be released in China!

Instead of being marketed as a gaming console, the Xbox One primarily focuses on the entertainment system side of the market. With this, there has been considerable emphasis on cloud computing alongside the integration of entertainment services and applications.

As well as this, the console has been created in mind for ‘social gamers’ who choose to stream or record their gameplay for services such as Twitch and YouTube. This can be seen through the design of the console itself, with a built in and improved Kinect 2.0.

Rumours started to circulate around the system in 2011 where it was said that game developers had started to receive access to the hardware. Shortly after this, many sensitive documents were leaked about the console and heavily suggested the new Kinect, cloud access and phone/ tablet integration, which of course the console has showcased.

Within these documents it was found that Microsoft had planned to stop players buying and playing second hand games. This turned out to be true as the system was designed to have a game installed onto the system via the disc, with the disc not being able to be used again after.

Furthermore, users would have to connect online at least once per day to keep the game. The gaming community found this aspect ludicrous and after public outcry, Microsoft removed this from the system.

It was found that between 2011 and 2013, a group of four hackers had breached Microsoft’s network and had been stealing information about the new console. The hackers pleaded guilty when charged and even admitted to stealing access credentials to steal a ‘Durango Development Kit’ off of a Microsoft site.

The Xbox One controller is a redesigned 360 controller to be more ergonomic for the player. On this, the ‘Start’ and ‘Select’ buttons have been replaced by ‘Menu’ and ‘View’ and the controller features impulse triggers that send vibration to each trigger. To ease gameplay, the controller can be charged remotely via micro USB.

As mentioned previously, the Kinect has been carefully redesigned and improved for Microsoft’s latest console. With an updated user-face, a wide-angled camera and the ability for 1080p image quality – the camera also features improved accuracy, voice control and can track up to 6 people at a time. With the initial shipment of Xbox One consoles, all came with a Kinect system. However later models have been released without the Kinect, acting as a budget system.

With the Xbox One, Microsoft primarily focused on the multimedia functionality of the system. Players can view (and play) content from the media app via USB with Blu-ray, DVD and CD playback also available and the ability to stream live TV.

Xbox Live allows players to store music, films, games and saved content to their cloud-based system. The player can add up to 1,000 friends and have their own avatar, alike with the Xbox 360. Automatic recording of game play allows users to stream or share online. An editing app called Upload Studio can be used to edit and share the game play footage and is fully integrated with Twitch.

Through the application ‘Xbox Smartglass’, users can use their Windows Phone or device running Windows 8 as a companion device for their console, with features including streaming live TV to android and Windows devices. This has been succeeded by the Windows 10 ‘Xbox App’ which fully supports streaming games to personal computers that also run Windows 10.

Initially the system was not created to support backwards compatibility and cannot play Xbox or Xbox 360 physical copies of games. In an attempt to resolve this, previous games from the Xbox 360 can be played via emulation in the system software. Upon launching this, 104 titles were available, with many more being added over the following months.

Reception to the console has been mixed, with great reviews regarding the multimedia elements of the console though poor reviews about the gaming side. Before official release of the console many aspects had to be tweaked and changed due to the harsh criticism. Even so, after the launch day, most reviews of the console reflect primarily on the multimedia aspect of the system. The majority of the poor reviews this time revolving around the large size and missing applications that had been promised to the consumer.

According to Microsoft’s figures, 1 million consoles sold in 24 hours upon launch. Despite this, the Xbox One has seen to have carried over the poor reputation and sales in Japanese regions that both previous Xbox consoles have had. With many Japanese players enjoying the PlayStation and Wii consoles over this. However, in the UK, in the following days after the announcement of the Xbox One S sales have been seen to rise on the initial console by 989%.

Multiple special editions have been released of the console, the first being the ‘Day One Edition’ that was shipped to everybody who had pre-ordered the system. This included ‘Day One Edition 2013’ being inscribed on the controller and the player earning a unique achievement.

Similar to this, the ‘Launch Team’ edition was handed to Microsoft employees who had worked on the systems development. The white system has ‘We made this – LAUNCH 2013’ inscribed on the controller and console as well as a bundle of games for the system (Dead Rising 3, Forza Motorsport 5, Ryse: Son of Rome and Zoo Tycoon).

Again, upon the release of Titanfall, Respawn Entertainment employees who had worked on the game received a gift of a black, white and orange console and controller. This controller was further mass-produced and sold as part of the Titalfall game.

Other special edition bundles include the Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare and Halo 5: Guardians bundles. The COD edition featuring slick dark grey and gold hardware with personalised sounds effects to match the game play. With the Halo bundle releasing a week before game launch and suiting a gunmetal grey finish and metallic blue accents, military detailing on the shell and customised sound effects.

In 2014, the first commercially sold white model came with the new Sunset Overdrive game and didn’t include a Kinect.

Other, slightly modified editions of the system have been released in late 2016. The Xbox One S is 40% smaller than the initial console and can fully support 4K. Which leads into Microsoft’s ‘Project Scorpio’ that will be available in late 2017 that is rumoured to be a high-end model, support 4K and Virtual Reality. This is said to be the rival system to the PlayStation Pro.