Michael 84

Xbox One: First Thoughts – Review

Tech Blog
Wednesday, 4th December, 2013


I have had my Xbox One just over a week now, so I have had plenty of time to play around and explore it. No doubt there’ll be things I may have missed, but I will try to cover everything in this review.

Xbox One – What’s In The Box & first impressions of the console

I got the Day One special edition which included FIFA 14 as a download. The only real difference between the Day One console and the standard is the control pad has a special “Day One” print on it, and you get FIFA 14 for free. Also in the box is the HDMI cable to connect to your HD TV, Power brick and cable, starter headset and Kinect.

The console is not a masterpiece when it comes to design, that has already been talked about and unless you plan on staring at the box all day it doesn’t rank too highly in terms of importance. It’s quite a big box, and is fairly heavy too, although I must admit not as heavy as I was anticipating after reading the damming reviews on that side. There are vents everywhere, on both sides and the top, this will no doubt help with cooling and prevent overheating. However it seems you may need to sit the console in a traditional flat-landscape style rather than upright, which is not great if you don’t have a lot of space.


Setting up the Xbox One was a breeze. Plug it in, and it will guide you through everything, from setting up your account, Kinect, TV, setting up WIFI, and it’s done in a few minutes. There is a patch to download, I think this was at around 500mb, which was not a bit deal and did not take too long.

The Dashboard

Once again Microsoft delivers with the brilliant dashboard. If you have an Xbox 360, Windows Phone, Windows Tablet or Windows 8 it will be recognisable and you’ll feel at home. If not, then it’s a really easy, and just nice interface to use. It has all your apps, videos, music, media and games, you can ‘pin’ your favourites to the start which makes them easy to find. Pressing the old Xbox button will take you back to the dashboard if you’re in a game, which is paused, and you can resume it instantly.

Instant On

There are two power options for your machine, a complete shutdown, or a ‘standby’, soft shutdown mode. If you choose the standby mode the machine turns off, or is sleeping may be a better expression. Once you say “Xbox On” it comes back on almost instantly. This is a really cool feature, and gets you into your console a lot faster.

Quiet As A Mouse

One of the stand out features in my opinion is the noise, or lack of it. I remember someone calling their Xbox 360 an aircraft, and they had a point, mine (original Xbox 360) is a noisy thing which you can hear in the room. The X1 is the complete opposite, you cannot hear it at all, even going up to the machine, it’s almost like it’s not even turned on.

All About Kinect

When it was announced that you’d need Kinect for this console I thought I would not buy it. I have no need for it, I did not want it, and before I used it if you asked me I’d of rather had a cheaper console and do without it. I have never previously used it on the old machine, and was forced to get it with the new gen X1. So what do I think now I have it? It’s great! I have to admit it has won me over. I have only used the Kinect system a small amount, but it recognises me in low light, the voice commands in game work, and there is something great about walking in a room saying “Xbox On” and it turns on 😀 . Is it a novelty which we’ll all be bored of after a while? Possibly, or it could be one of those things we’ll learn to love, and then not be able to do without.

Voice Commands – Not Mandatory

I have to write a point about the voice commands. I like them and do use them for some things, and I have read some other reviews which seem to suggest you have to use them. This is NOT the case, you can use your controller to do everything and don’t need to use the voice at all.

The New Controller

I loved the 360 controller, and this is an enhanced version of that. The triggers have independent rumbles which can be felt when playing Forza 5, go off the track or get some wheel spin and you can feel it. The thumb sticks have textures which do make a difference, new D-Pad, and perhaps an overlooked design feature is a better battery cover and layout so there is no loss of conductivity and power to the controller.

Play While Downloading

You can download a game, and then when it’s downloaded a portion you can get right into the game and start playing. You cannot access the full game until the whole thing is downloaded; I got 25% of FIFA 14 and it was ready to play, however I was restricted to a friendly with Barcelona and Real Madrid.

Games Lineup

At the moment there is not a huge choice in games, that’s to be expected with a new generation of console, but I think the line up of the Xbox is better than it’s rival the PS4. I always look at the different styles of games; Action, FPS, Racing, Sports, Fighting. There are not a huge number of titles, but the Xbox One has all these bases covered.


The graphics on this look really good. The games I have played, FIFA, Forza and Battlefield look brilliant, definitely no complaints at all. More on each game below.

Games – FIFA 14

I have FIFA 14 on the Xbox 360 so was not expecting this to be a whole new game, and it’s not. However, the graphics are very good indeed, you can see the difference and there is far more detail. The game also plays slightly differently. It’s a more refined, smoother FIFA, you can be more precise when dribbling or just on the ball in general. I think this should be dubbed FIFA 14.5 as it’s a step up from the previous generation of console, but I expect FIFA 15 to be a leap forward.

Forza 5

This looks stunning. The graphics are amazing in the game, and it looks visually great. The gameplay is Forza gameplay, I have found with Forza 3 (the last one I bought) which is not as fluid as I would like. To cap it off they are using (or abusing depending on your viewpoint) DLC and downloads to the max; I was prompted to download a 10 car pack, at a cost of £39.99 which is only £5 less than the game! I am not a fan of this type of downloading, it leaves you feeling like you’ve bought half a game at full price.

Battlefield 4

There was the choice of this or COD, and I got this. I am not a huge hardcore fan of FPS games, but I do like to play them on and off if they’re good. I have to say this is really good, once again it looks amazing, there is so much detail and it looks and feels like a really great game.

Switching Between Apps/Games, Multi Tasking And The Media

Switching between apps and games is pretty seamless, just hit the Xbox button and you go back to the dashboard, and you can select anything you want, then go back to what you were doing. I have used the 4OD app and it seems to be pretty good, at the moment I have not used a set top box with it. The other media elements are sure to be there in the coming months, the framework is there and you’ll love your whole entertainment machine 🙂

The Bad Points

There is not many bad points about the system, but I have found just a few which I am not a fan of.

No Auto Sign In – It seems you have to sign in each time you have turned on the machine. I am not using Kinect to sign in, but unlike the Xbox 360 which automatically signed you in, this does not.
How Much Space Do I Have Left – A key feature is that you have to download and install games, either partly or fully if you have a digital download version. The problem is that it seems that you never actually know how full the hard drive is. This is very annoying, and something I really want to know about my machine. The Microsoft support pages basically states “You’ll get a notification when you’re running out of space” which leads us to believe that there is no way of knowing how much space you have used.

The Biggest Downfall Of This Generation (Xbox One, PS4, PC Gaming & More)

The biggest downfall of this console, and everything from the new generation is downloading. If you’ve ever tried to download a game on release day, the latest Apple/Windows OS, or something similar you’ll know that their servers simply cannot cope with the demand. The big problem is that for the three games I have tried (FIFA was a digital download) they’ve all needed a download, and not a small one, we’re talking GBs of data even for games on disc. The problem is you need a good (WIFI) connection from your Xbox to your router, then a good broadband connection, then you need the server you’re connecting to, to be fast. If there is a break in any of this chain it will slow down your download, possibly to a crawl. You can have the fastest fibre broadband in the land, but if the server is busy and overloaded, it will not matter.

It’s going to be interesting come Christmas day when many kids turn on their new console and try to download the day one patch (both the Xbox One and PS4 have this).

The Verdict: Should I Buy An Xbox One?

If you are a gamer it is definitely worth getting one of these…That’s if you can. They are still pretty much sold out everywhere, and could be until after Christmas. If you can do without it then it may be worth waiting, not because it’s not a great machine, but because there is a lack of next generation games at the moment. This will of course change in the future, but at the moment there are only a handful of games worth getting for either next-gen console.

Should you buy this or a PS4? It’s a question everyone wants answered, and we simply will not know which one is the better buy for several months until more people buy and use them. The power of the machine is meaningless in such things, it’s to do with the gaming support (number and quality of games), and these days the number of people using the console (for social and online gaming). The X1 has a lot of potential and has more features than a simple games machine, this could turn out to be a brilliant decision in the future.

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Michael Adams

About Michael

Michael Adams is the founder and editor of Michael 84, blogger and T-shirt designer from Newcastle, UK. Sharing men's fashion tips, style advice and lifestyle information for all guys.

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