Jump In: My Weekend with the Xbox One

Santa Claus, who totally exists, came by my house this weekend and dropped off an early present: the Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare edition of the Xbox One. Designed with a unique color scheme and a 1TB hard drive, the machine marks my foray into Microsoft’s new vision of gaming – sans the “essential” and “we’re totally committed to it” Kinect 2.0.

Right from the start, I’m impressed with how quiet the machine is. The PlayStation 4 isn’t crazy loud, but I can hear the internal fans kicking into gear during longer gaming sessions. I played Dead Rising 3 for a few hours and not once did I hear any sounds coming from the console. Just like the Star Wars edition of the Xbox 360, the Call of Duty version makes game-specific sounds when you turn the machine on, though when the power button on the console is used. Turning the Xbox One on with the controller offers no audible cue that things are about to happen. This is in no way a problem, just a interesting observation.

The Xbox One’s interface, unfortunately, is complete garbage. “Garbage” may be too harsh, but the Windows 8-style panels are ugly. I appreciate the option to pin apps and games to a separate screen, but why not make that the default page rather than the home screen? The PlayStation 4’s evolved version of the XMB is so much easier to navigate (even if it does get a bit long, horizontally speaking) and far less cluttered and busy. Maybe there’s a way to configure the Xbox One’s start screen? I haven’t spent much time exploring the interface and I can’t be sure. I am hopeful!

The only major concern I have with the system (so far) are the download/install speed. My console came with a download code for Advanced Warfare and I borrowed a copy of Dead Rising 3 from the library. Just like the PlayStation 4, disc-based games are installed to the hard drive and cannot be played until a certain amount of content has been installed. Dead Rising 3 worked fine and I didn’t have to wait long to get into the game. Call of Duty was a stark contrast. The experience of downloading (I don’t know why the console says “installing” when downloading games. Confusing language!) the game was a nightmare. I would say that have pretty good Internet service, as evident by the quickness of getting games from Steam and PSN, so I wasn’t expecting that it would take over twelve hours to download a 45GB game. By the time the console downloaded/installed enough to where I could play the game, I got through the first level before receiving a message that more of the game needed to be downloaded! Yikes! At first, I figured that the servers were getting hammered by other new users. I went online to get some information and discovered that slow downloads are a pretty significant issue for the Xbox One. Until those issues get resolved, I’ll be stick to physical copies and save myself the frustration!

The download speeds notwithstanding, there are elements of the Xbox One that I really like. My Xbox Live data transferred over perfectly, with achievement points and friends list intact. The console’s suspend feature works far better than it is supposed to on the PlayStation 4. On Sony’s machine, after bringing the console out of Rest Mode, getting back into a game means having to go through the game’s entire start-up process. The opposite is true for the Xbox One. When I turned the machine on, the Home screen displayed Dead Rising 3‘s pause screen. All I had to do was hover over the box, press A and I was up and running from where I left off. Awesome!

I won’t have much time to play with my new toy until I get back from what is sure to be a most kick ass honeymoon, but so far I am pretty happy with the Xbox One! I’m excited to get my hands on the Halo: Master Chief Collection, along with SWERY’s new episodic joint and Dragon Age Inquisition. 

Some other observations:

  • Though the console runs fine without it, I feel slightly hamstrung without the Kinect. The “Snap” feature is difficult to navigate without having to hit “B” until the thing goes away.
  • Twitch streaming seems to be buggy. I was able to broadcast a stream once and when I tried to do it again, I was stuck on the screen that prompted me to activate camera and mic functionality. Deleting the app and re-installing it did the trick, but I ran into the same problem not long after. Help?
  • I like the color scheme on the Call of Duty edition of the console. Very tasteful and elegant. The hashmarks and smilie face on the gamepad, however, are a glaring distraction.
  • That whole “resolution gate” nonsense was and still is stupid.
  • Why does the Microsoft controller still use AA batteries?

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