One weekend of heavy Xbox One use for High-Def Staff is trouble free.
After more than four days of Xbox One use by three members of High-Def Digest staff, and we have run into the following problems:
Extremely varied install times for disc games and digital games.
TV and Netflix apps stop working and required a system reboot to get going again.
'Forza 5' (digital version) crashed to the dashboard.
'Killer Instinct' crashed to the dashboard.
Kinect voice commands work intermittently.
And that's about it. The second major console launch in as many weeks, and nary an issue to report. It took considerably longer to drop the Xbox One into its designated place in my home theater than to get the system set up and updated. (Engadget's doomsday scenario be damned.)
Now for some surprises:
The TV app. About five minutes into college football on Saturday, and I decided that I need to check out the TV app features. I managed to get the cable box to output component and optical to my receiver, while outputting HDMI to the Xbox One. That way I can snap the Xbox One's TV app to the right side while playing games, which makes sense for the less story-driven 'Forza 5,' 'NBA 2K14,' and 'Killer Instinct,' without having to depend on the Xbox One for every time I want to watch TV. (Luckily my cable box, a brand unknown to the Xbox One, has its own volume and mute, a necessity for really using the TV app.) When it works, the TV app is a nice option, but I've had to restart my Xbox One a few times to get the app working again.
The d-pad. The new d-pad is of course a huge improvement, but using it in 'Killer Instinct' is not so ideal. It may be a matter of getting used to, but right now it's punishing to use the d-pad for multiple bouts of 'Killer Instinct.' Otherwise, the controller is really nice, though the Menu and View buttons aren't the most intuitive. The controller that came bundled with a Play and Charge kit looks a little plain next to the Day One version.
Upload Studio. Upload Studio is one of many essential apps that need to be found and installed. I've got three game videos I shot and edited in Upload Studio and then transferred with SkyDrive. The quality is only ok, but the feature is still promising and can be improved easily. I am surprised at the lack of a simple screenshot function.
The Store. I've had trouble getting stuck in the store looking at app details, and no matter how many different ways I return or quit the Store app, I'm still stuck in those details.
Installs from disc freak me out. Not only do they seem to become stuck as they attempt to download big day one patches while installing, it also seems a bit too risky to reset the system while it appears to be reading from the disc drive.
Game switching. It's way too easy to accidentally close a game by clicking on another. All of the last gen training to press the Xbox button for the old blades UI is like a handicap for the current dynamic OS set-up.
Next-gen spoiled. Suddenly the solitary career mode of 'Forza' is filled with the lap times, liveries and Drivatars of my friends and random people. Plus, this is the first 'Forza' that I can have on the system ready to go whenever (without disc switching). It's hard to see a good reason to go back to the 360 at the moment.
Oh wait, the music. The Xbox One can play CDs, and I even managed to get a video to play through SkyDrive. Still, my 360 music flash drive has no purpose on the new console.
I miss some of the 360's idiosyncrasies. Finding the few game demos in the store is not easy task. My profile can't be auto-signed in unless I use the Kinect facial recognition. When powering up the second controller, it becomes very PS3-like to get a second player signed in, which isn't so good for local 'Killer Instinct' matches.
I haven't yet tried 'Dead Rising 3,' but that will happen soon. Meanwhile, 'Forza 5,' 'Killer Instinct,' 'NBA 2K14,' and 'Call of Duty: Ghosts,' make for a nice launch line-up, there's just one thing missing, some kind of indie style game, perhaps one that was free with Xbox Live. Hopefully, that omission will change soon.
After launch night, my Xbox One got moved over to a battery back-up, which makes me more comfortable using the system's stand-by feature. The need to walk over to the machine once a day and do a 30 second reset is not a joy.
'Killer Instinct' is a blatant 'Street Fighter IV' clone, and thereby is a blast. The fact that the game makes you unlock most of the content after buying the 'Ultra' edition aside (even the stages!), and the six character fighter is far more fun than I expected. Too bad that it and 'Forza 5' make me want $600 worth of Mad Catz accessories.
I fully expect that the TV app, store, and other stability issues will be ironed out sooner rather than later while I' m not sure that the voice control couldn't be done with just a headset. The long game installs (another issue that ought to be addressed quickly) are less annoying if there are one or two games installed on the hard drive to play while waiting. Those blips aside, the launch experience was excellent, and the future looks extremely bright for the new system.
Author: Brian Hoss