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Xbox One review

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Xbox One

Summary

Our Score:

9

User Score:

Pros

  • Great exclusive titles
  • Superb standard and Elite controllers
  • Leaner, more games-focused UI
  • Excellent apps, services and entertainment features

Cons

  • Can’t match the PS4 on raw performance
  • Remains a big and bulky console

Xbox One – Two Years On

2015 has seen Microsoft’s turnaround continue. What launched two years ago as an awkward mess of a console, too focused on establishing the Xbox brand as Microsoft’s living room Trojan Horse, is now a brilliant, competitive games machine with a growing library of equally brilliant games.

There are signs that the gaming public is responding, too, with the Xbox One outselling the PS4 in some key territories, including the US, during April and October of this year. With a line-up that takes in new Halo and Forza titles, plus a timed exclusive Tomb Raider now and new Fable and Gears of War instalments to come, the Xbox One is ideally positioned to have a very merry Christmas. The only question is how long the joy will last.

We began the current console cycle seeing the PS4 as dominant and the Xbox One as DOA. Now the general thinking is that the Xbox One has the best current games line-up, but the PS4 has the greater potential for the future. There’s some truth to this, but it shouldn’t be over-emphasised. Microsoft is still helping developers find new ways of eking more out of the Xbox One’s comparatively underpowered hardware, and the console still has some great-looking games ahead.

Related: PS4 vs Xbox One

Xbox One – Hardware

One thing hasn’t changed about Microsoft’s console, and that it’s still a big old beast. In fact it’s a bruiser of spectacular proportions, built to handle heat better and work more reliably than the old Xbox 360 did, but looking huge next to the comparatively svelte PlayStation 4. At 333mm x 276mm x 78mm, it’s actually larger than some gaming PCs and the huge external power brick is – frankly – taking the piss. The Xbox One does seem more reliable than its predecessor, with no reports of widespread faults or dying consoles. It’s also quieter than you might expect, though not quite as quiet as the latest model Type-C PS4.

Eventually AMD will release a revised, less power hungry processor and Microsoft will house it in a smaller, more elegant case, just as it did with the Xbox 360 Slim. For now, the best you can hope for is one of the more attractive or eye-catching special edition consoles, though these tend to sell out fast.

The Xbox One beats the PS4 on connectivity, with two USB 3.0 ports on the rear and another at the side, Ethernet and optical audio sockets plus an HDMI input, an HDMI output and a dedicated power and USB connection for the ill-fated Kinect 2 motion sensor. You may need those USB 3.0 sockets, too, because beyond gaming peripherals like guitar controller adaptors and toys-to-life portals, you can also use them to boost your console’s onboard storage.

The 500GB of the original Xbox One fills up fast, while even the newer 1TB consoles won’t give you enough free space for ever. But where the PS4 demands that you switch out its hard disk to increase capacity, the Xbox One lets you connect a USB 3.0 hard drive to get more space. It’s a quick, affordable and easy upgrade, and actually seems to boost loading speeds in many cases.

Related: Xbox One HDD Upgrade – How to upgrade you Xbox One storage

Xbox One vs PS4 25

The Xbox One and PS4 run on very similar hardware, but where Sony did everything it could to pack as much horsepower in its machine as possible – even switching from 4GB to 8GB of shared RAM at the last minute – Microsoft played things safe. The Xbox One’s AMD x86 APU has the same eight CPU cores as the PS4’s, and even runs them at a slightly higher speed (1.75Ghz to 1.6Ghz). However, there are only 12 GCN computing units on the GPU side of things, where the PS4 has 18, while the Xbox One uses 2133Mhz DDR3 RAM instead of the PS4’s lightning-fast 5500MHz GDDR5. 32MB of embedded high-speed ESRAM helps a little, but the PS4 still leaves the Microsoft console outgunned.

This isn’t just an ‘in theory’ sort of thing. Third-party games running on both platforms consistently run more smoothly, with more effects or at higher resolutions on the Sony system. Games like Metal Gear Solid V or Call of Duty: Black Ops III, which run at a full HD 1080p on the PS4, frequently run at 900p or 720p on the Xbox One. In some cases, developers are using clever dynamic resolution systems to squeeze down the horizontal resolution even further, degrading image quality (albeit very subtly) to keep frame rates up.

The effects are noticeable but not necessarily that hideously noticeable, and the good news is that Microsoft is doing its utmost to help developers squeeze more out of the Xbox One hardware and narrow the gap. What’s more, this year’s big exclusives don’t exactly look inferior or half-baked, and you can double that for next year’s titles, such as Quantum Break. Meanwhile, Microsoft’s much-huped and almost-as-much-mocked talk of leveraging cloud-based processing power is beginning to bear fruit. It’s already being used in Forza Motorsport 6 and Halo 5, and it’ll power destructible cities in next year’s Crackdown reboot.

Related: Is the Xbox One Elite Controller worth the upgrade?

Xbox One Elite Controller 53

Xbox One – Controller and Kinect

Some people seem to think that the DualShock 4 is the best console controller out there, but we think that these people should take a deep breath and get a grip. The Xbox One’s standard controller is superior in nearly every way, with better ergonomics, a cleaner button layout, tighter, more responsive analogue sticks and a better D-Pad too. Given the choice between the PS4’s gimmicky touchpad and the Xbox One’s dual impulse triggers, which give you a brilliant rumble feedback when you’re firing off rounds or hitting the accelerator, we’d take the impulse triggers every time.

Microsoft has also now released its Xbox One Elite Controller, with incredible levels of customisation and configuration and an even higher-quality, pro-gamer feel. At £120 It’s just too expensive for most users, however, so only well-heeled hardcore gamers need apply.

In the bad old days of the Xbox One launch every review had to have an obligatory paragraph on Kinect. This year we’ll just explain why that paragraph is missing: because Kinect is effectively dead in the water. Nobody seems to be developing any games for it, and even Microsoft seems to have consigned it a voice control role, as if the high-tech 3D depth camera stuff was somehow an unnecessary add-on to the built-in array microphone.

Overall Score

9

Cameron

May 22, 2013, 1:50 pm

This could be a big setup for Microsoft if we get the xbox one for a good price, seen pre orders at £399.99, at that its a bit much but if you can get a good bundle deal at lunch then it could work out for everyone

Spike Black

May 22, 2013, 2:51 pm

With no back catalogue to play it could mean a slow start, will it also mean MS keeping the 360 in production to prevent peoples old games being coasters or as older models get the rrod in their old age.
Would I use this new model as bluray player, well probably not. Having experienced a rrod recently on my original white 360 I wouldn't want to push my luck by using this as a player even with a long warranty. It was an utter pita to get my saves transferred over to my new slim line one.
And regards the rrod of the 360 any details on what warranty they'll be offering on this?

The elephant in the room is still MS charging for online gaming when the PS3 and 4 will remain free.

rybo1

May 29, 2013, 5:45 pm

I'm staying away from any gaming console that detects my heartbeat or those of my guests.

Lacerz

June 12, 2013, 2:16 pm

Actually, Sony has stated that online play for the PS4 will require a PS+ subscription, but you won't need a + subscription to watch your streaming movies online. I've been a + subscriber since the service launched, so I can say that the service has slowly eveolved into a very worhtwhile one. Initially all I got were a couple of crap games, early betas, Qore episodes and not much else. Now I have a ton of games from their instant game collection.

Oh, and PS+ subscribers get Drive Club at launch. That's pretty sweet if you like racers.

David Hale

June 12, 2013, 2:22 pm

I wonder if Microsoft has it right with the Xbox One. I agree that the PS4 appears to be a better console for the gamer and being an Xbox 360 user (although previously an avid PS1 and PS2 user) I am seriously torn between which console to get.

Despite all that though, there are a lot more consumers who are after that all in one home entertainment system than there probably are hardcore gamers. Look at how popular Smart TV's and streaming services have become.

I suppose what I mean is they might lose the "console" war but win the one for the living room!

torjs99

June 12, 2013, 2:58 pm

was it abnormally cold? was there a feeling of creeping evil?

Tony Anderson

June 13, 2013, 2:33 pm

Just imagine what the NSA could do with your heartbeat information!

another

September 29, 2013, 1:55 pm

PS+ is just not in the same league as XBOX Live! and will never be able to compete, XBOX Live has evolved into a 300,000.00 server monster of an experience, this is servers we are talking and the MS servers are dedicated number crunchers that if utilised right by developers will add so much to the end user experience, Games could have multiple paths as could Thriller movies etc

talha Sohail

October 15, 2013, 2:14 pm

I admit that ps4 has a better design but xbox one have better games and more specs

fourtywater

October 21, 2013, 5:59 am

In addition the Xbox One eliminates AI in games. It uses the cloud to remember how you play. When you are offline, your player plays games while you are away and report how you did virtually when you were away. It learns new patterns as you get better as well. You will NEVER play against a computer again. Can PS4 do that?

fourtywater

October 21, 2013, 3:52 pm

Lets break it down. If you want the latest and greatest technology and can afford to use an HDTV Broadband Internet and a budget to purchase virtual content the Xbox One is the best. If you want a good console without the bells and whistles and you are on a budget, you should get the PS4. I hope this helps all you people in video game land.

da Boss

November 13, 2013, 3:47 pm

My main complaints with X1 are simple but crucial. If Microsoft came to me and said i have the option of an X1 with Kinect and the DVR bs or an X1 with the same hardware capabilities of the PS4 for the same price, god knows i'd choose the better hardware. Kinect is a large, ugly, useless chunk of plastic that is insanely priced at a 100$ and is forced upon the consumer. The DVR feature, nothing but a useless gimmick that most people won't use and nobody will need anyways. The X1 is large, very large and heavy, same can be said for the very large power brick that comes with this behemoth. Things like entertainment apps and most console features are locked behind a 60$ pay wall. Things like fucking Netflix that i'm already paying for. And when you compare the cameras, yes the kinect is of better quality as it can record 1080p/30fps video, which is great. BUT the PS eye is 40$ cheaper, smaller/lighter and flexible due to its smaller size, and comes equipped with not 1 but 2 camera lenses. This adds for a much larger field of view, which for a piece of hardware that promotes getting up and moving around, is crucial for its success. Xbox Live pales in comparison when compared to PSN+. It's 10 bucks cheaper and is spread across 3 platforms, not just the PS4. It offers you free games for all 3, every week on top of discounts, themes, avatars, exclusive betas/demos/trials and early releases of dlc's and games. Its value is unquestionable and nothing but online gaming and the features i just said are locked behind a pay wall. But for some games, like the F2P games, it wont be. And finally, the controllers. As much as i loved my 360 controller, the X1 falls short when compared to the PS4 controller. I personally enjoy the DS4 controller more, due to its ergonomic design and matted grip, but that is all preference. My opinion on how the controller feels means nothing to another person as it is only my opinion, but there is something we can compare. Controller features. What the X1 controller fails to do is bring anything new to the table. It looks similar to the 360 controller (note the X1 controller is a slightly sleeker and lighter) and feels similar, which is a good thing, but thats about it. Microsoft has added a new rumble mechanism that adds better feed back to the triggers which is great for racing games and shooters, but i found it was more of a distraction than anything and will probably eat away at your controllers battery life fast. Other than that, nothing new has been added. But when you look at the DS4, many things are there that weren't there in the previous gen. Sony has added much better triggers, tighter, better gripped and designed analogue sticks and a slightly improved D-pad. The stick and triggers are greatly improved. The analogue sticks sport a concave design, similar to the 360 controller, with smaller, rubber gripped sticks placed slightly farther apart for better handling. There is no dead zone, which is probably the best improvement. The triggers fell great and very responsive. The D-pad is also a little better. These are all great, but nothing Xbox gamers haven't already been enjoying (except for the d-pad, its still pretty terrible on the X1), whats new are the features. Well before we dive into the features, lets take a look at the specifications. The controller weighs about 3 ounces, which is slightly heavier than the PS3 controller, which will feel nicer. The controller is also slightly larger, which is a great improvement. Especially for adult gamers who are tired of the cheap, SMALL piece of plastic that is the DS3. The controller has a nice matted grip at the bottom which will also feel nice. The controller has a nice, well placed clickable, multi-touch pad for RTS games and web browsing (among other things), it comes with a share button which will make sharing clips and screenshots of games a lot quicker. The controller also has a PlayStation move light at the top of the controller. Which will be great for game feedback, controller recognition and over all use in motion games (note: most of these features will be lost without the ps eye camera, something i still will not be getting). The controller also has a mono-speaker in the bottom middle of the controller. This will make games more immersive, providing sound feedback such as a bullet zooming by or a command from a general in-game, similar to the speaker on the wii mote. The controller also has built-in sixaxis/gyroscope similar to the DS3 for better motion controls, which will probably go great with the camera and the move light. The controller also has well placed extension/headphone ports which will look very similar to the 360. The rumble has also been greatly improved, but i will not be using it as it will kill the controllers 8 hour battery life. Yes, 8 hours. Not much, but at least now you can charge your controller in standby mode with the insanely priced (20$) micro usb cable. The controller will also be using Bluetooth 2.1 instead of the outdated Bluetooth 2.0 on the PS3. Allowing for better, faster connectivity. This is probably the reason why the DS4 and the PS3 are not wirelessly compatible. With all these new additions its a wonder this controller is only 6$ more expensive than the over priced PS3 controller.
I spent a lot of time on the controller because i know it is the most important aspect of a gaming console, along side its hardware capabilities.
In my opinion i believe the PS4 is the superior console at this point, with a feature packed controller, cheaper console, more focused on games and gamers, and a more powerful hardware.

da Boss

November 13, 2013, 3:48 pm

lol "latest and greatest technology". Thats a massive joke

da Boss

November 13, 2013, 3:51 pm

Yes it can moron. Cloud computing is nothing new and is certainly not exclusive to the X1. Have you done any research what so ever? Microsoft just touted it because they knew idiot American consumers would eat that crap up like bad propaganda. Anybody can do cloud computing, have been doing it for quite some time now. But even in the states, the PS4 is leading 2:1 in pre orders.

CSViper

November 21, 2013, 9:13 pm

Wow, no Digital Dolby on Optical ouput??? I can't even believe they just announced this on launch day!!! Looks like it is stereo only for my Denon receiver until they fix it.

Guest

November 22, 2013, 12:11 am

"My main complaints with X1 are simple..." - Phew, good job you complaints weren't complicated or you would have written loads! ;-)

da Boss

November 22, 2013, 1:34 pm

More specs? What does that even mean? And no it does not have more games. It has 1 more exclusive than the PS4. X1 has Forza, Ryse and Deadrising. Forzas a racing game, Deadrising was very mediocre and had terrible graphics, and Ryse sucked ass. So comparing that to Knack and Killzone, its pretty much a tie. I'd definitely choose Killzone over any of those games anyday.

Pg

November 22, 2013, 1:54 pm

Hmm..I get the feeling your rant isn't without bias.

The only major complaint I have with either, is with the xbox1. The tv functionality which is only ready for the US (is this really true?), it's a major feature that one country can benefit from. Yes, they will update for other countries, but don't hold your breadth.

And being in Ireland,means we are so much further down the pecking list of countries for this functionality.

The best advice is to wait before buying one, assuming you can do that.

Pg

November 22, 2013, 1:56 pm

I thought the "on a budget" was the funniest part. Seriously people, they are both expensive.

I guess if you don't have a budget, then get both.

Pg

November 22, 2013, 2:00 pm

Ha. More specs? What does that even mean?
PS4 is the more powerful, just have to wait and see how big that advantage is and whether it makes a difference in games.

Pg

November 22, 2013, 2:01 pm

Telling when we are lying? Dectect a congenital heart defect?
Tell me!

da Boss

November 22, 2013, 7:09 pm

Its not about the budget. The Xbox is charging you more for less. Yeh you dont get a camera with the ps4, but its just a gimmick anyways. I would probably never use it for any real gaming.

Johnnypg01

November 22, 2013, 11:50 pm

Joke- does not work- totally reliant on internet connection- which Microsoft denied before going to launch- I wish I had not bought this.....

Unhappy mother

November 23, 2013, 9:43 am

Can't believe you can spend that much money on a console you can't play as it immediately requires 2 gb of data updates! My son has been waiting for launch day for months, god help anybody that's bought this for their child for Christmas, they might get to play on it by new year. Forza 5 needed 6 GB of updates and CoD ghosts needs 1.2 GB !

L4lefty

November 23, 2013, 9:59 pm

Surely you aren't serious? Of all the reasons to avoid a console, this is yours? Fair enough if so, it's your prerogative and choice of coarse, but you can't think of a workaround for this if it is indeed your main concern?

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