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Xbox One FAQ: 10 Things you need to know

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Planning on buying an Xbox One today or parting with £429 to get one in the near future? Here’s our run-down of the Xbox One features to look out for.

Microsoft's answer to the PS4 and successor to the Xbox 360 is finally here ready to lure over £400 from your bank account. As you can read in our Xbox One review, we do not think its an essential purchase just yet, but we don’t think it will stop people wanting to own the next-gen console right now.

If you are still weighing up whether to go for a PS4 or an Xbox One, we’ve picked out some of the less talked about features of Microsoft’s console in our Xbox One FAQ to help you decide.

1. Xbox One plays Blu-ray discs and CDs

Sony backed the right format horse for the last console generation, and now the Xbox One joins the PS4 by adding Blu-ray disc support so now you can watch high-def flicks on the One. If you’ve managed to build up an extensive 3D Blu-ray collection you may not want to ditch the Blu-ray player just yet as the Xbox One doesn’t currently support 3D Blu-ray discs. Additionally, to get one over its rivals at launch, the Xbox One will play CDs if you still need to do that kind of thing.

2. The cloud is not just for storage, it will (they say) make games better

Cloud support and storage doesn’t sound very exciting but on the Xbox One it will actually be really useful for games. Primarily it will be a place to save settings, saved games and other information. Game developers will also be able to add new features, fix bugs and improve the way games play. Take Forza Motorosport 5, for instance, where the cloud support powers the new Drivatar feature where they can see what cars and races prove popular and improve the AI of virtual opponents to make one race play out dramatically different to another one week later.

Xbox One FAQ

3. Kinect is bigger, but it's much better

Yes, it’s a bigger sensor and you will need to make a little extra room for it, but there’s some really clever things the second generation motion-sensing controller can do. For starters, it has a wider field of vision that means you only need to be 1.4 metres or so away, making it more suitable to use in smaller rooms. It can now track six people at once, tell who is holding the controller, work in the dark and can even track expressions. So it will know when you are smiling after you have finally got through the mandatory day one update.

Xbox One FAQ 1

4. It will help you find the perfect partner online

Now when we say 'perfect partner' we obviously don't mean it in the online dating sense. The new Smart Match feature will help you find a suitable gaming mate all without having to sit waiting in a lobby. The new matchmaking system, Smart Match, runs in the background and matches you to other players based on characteristics like skill level, reputation and language. It will even tell you when it’s found a match so you can get ready to get it on.

5. You can watch TV and play games at the same time

A feature perfect for multitaskers, the Xbox One will let you run two applications at the same time so you can play games and catch up on Game of Thrones at the same time. It uses the same 'Snap' feature featured in Windows 8-running devices like the Microsoft Surface Pro 2, enabling you to also double up with other apps like Skype chats. Now you can pretend you are listening to friends and family overseas as you slash through another enemy in Ryse.

6. There's dedicated servers for all Xbox One games

This should be a source of good news for all Xbox One multiplayer gamers. Tapping into the cloud, Microsoft has revealed there will be dedicated servers for all Xbox One games and they will be free to all developers. Essentially this means games against friends will be played on more stable connections so you can have no complaints when you get another hiding on FIFA 14.

Xbox One pictures 4

7. You can connect the Xbox 360 (or a PS4) to an Xbox One

We’ve explained the Xbox One backwards compatibility in detail already, but if for some reason you really want to play Xbox 360 games on your Xbox One (or via it) there is a way to do it. You can plug the Xbox 360’s HDMI output into the HDMI input, load up the TV app and it should start running. You can then use the Snap feature to play it side-by-side with an Xbox One game -- handy if you want to compare the graphics. It's likely to be a laggy experience and if you really need to play an Xbox 360 console it would be much easier to connect it to another HDMI on your TV, but the Xbox One's HDMI-in port could have some uses beyond Microsoft's planned TV integration.

8. Ditching the trolls

Nobody likes a troll whether it’s on Twitter or the nasty, swearing types on Xbox Live. Microsoft is addressing the situation with its new reputation system. Ditching the Xbox 360’s five-star grading system, the One’s sophisticated monitoring can intelligently identify ‘proper’ players from the offensive trolls creating a parallel Xbox Live environment where similarly unpleasant gamers can be left to annoy each other while the rest of us get along nicely. At least that's the theory, we'll keep a close eye on how things go to see if that's the reality.

9. Xbox 360 achievements carry over

Good news Xbox 360 owners, achievements will follow you over to the Xbox One and can unlock new content on the next-gen console. The nature of how achievements work is changing slightly as well. Powered by the cloud, Microsoft is adding achievements for non-gaming related content, so if you use particular streaming service for a set period of time you will be rewarded for your loyalty.

Xbox One FAQ 2

10. Xbox One is probably the best way to video chat

Skype, the popular VoIP service bought up by Microsoft back in 2011, is deeply integrated into the Xbox One thanks to Kinect. Utilizing the 1080p quality cameras and stereo microphones you can make video calls and the Kinect camera will zoom and pan as you move around the room.You can make group video calls with up to three other people and there’s even support for instant messaging via the on-screen keyboard. Skype will also power the Xbox One's party chat, which supports up to eight users when you are playing multiplayer.

You will need to have an Xbox LIVE Gold membership to use it although Skype is offering free group video calling and 100 minutes of calls per month for the first six months.

Next, read our comparison of the Xbox One vs PS4.

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