Our Summary and Conclusion
The arrival of the Xbox One, and its chief rival the PlayStation 4, are important on a number of different levels. For starters, even though the PC is considered by many (myself included) to be the premiere gaming platform, game consoles drive much of the industry. The fact that the previous generation of consoles are roughly 8 years old at this point has held back many game developers—or more specifically, game-engine developers—from releasing true, next-gen engines, simply because the mass market hardware just wasn’t out there to drive them. With the arrival of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, however, expect to see more cutting edge games arrive in the not-too-distant future, that push the envelope in terms of their graphics fidelity. Because the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 are both powered by x86 APUs, it should also be easier to port titles over to the PC. The new consoles may be getting the lion’s share of buzz as of late, but rest assured their arrival is a good thing for PC gaming.
The Xbox One's New Controllers Are Among The Best We've Used
Find Microsoft's Xbox One At Amazon
A lot still has to unfold until we can fully digest everything the Xbox One has to offer, but our initial impressions of the device are very good. Aesthetically, the Xbox One will probably be somewhat divisive; you’ll either love or hate the mix of glossy and matte finishes and the sharp, angular lines. The hardware itself seems well made though, and Microsoft has clearly paid attention to detail. The new Xbox One controllers in particular should please most console gamers. Many of the updates and refinements to the controller are subtle, but they ultimately offer a better overall experience in our opinion.
The new Kinect sensor is also a clear upgrade over the previous generation. Video quality, responsiveness, and the ability to discern voice commands in noisy environments have all been improved. With that said, there were still a number occasions where we found ourselves repeating commands, because they weren’t picked up on the first try. This is an area that will likely be continually refined over time, however.
The Xbox One games we got to play were expectedly a mix of bold and bland. The hottest titles like Ryse: Son of Rome, Forza Motorsport 5, Dead Rising 3, and Killer Instinct are likely to sell a ton of consoles. They simply look good, play well and will provide lots of fun. Ryse and Forza in particular look incredible in our opinion. Yes, you can technically produce higher-quality frames on a gaming PC, but these two games still impressed us. If you have the ability to go play Ryse or Forza live, please do so, and report back in the comments. We want your opinion as well.
It’s not all sunshine and roses for the Xbox One, though. Technically speaking, the PlayStation 4 features more powerful hardware, including a beefier GPU and a unified memory architecture that offers more bandwidth. Sony’s wunderkind is also off to a roaring start, reportedly selling 1M units in its first day of availability. Microsoft owned the last-gen console war in terms of sales, but early missteps, a higher initial price tag of $499 MSRP, and fierce competition from Sony could spell trouble in the long run for Redmond. No matter what, Microsoft is going to sell a boatload of Xbox Ones, but whether or not it turns out to be the leader its predecessor was remains to be seen.
What Microsoft has on its side is a growing mobile ecosystem, a huge existing user-base of devoted Xbox fans, and dominance on the desktop. That’s a lot of technology the company can leverage, which will allow to Microsoft to offer unique synergies and experiences across many devices, that no one else can. There is still lots of work to be done on the software side (the SmartGlass App for Xbox One just became available as we were writing this, for example), but the foundation is there for some really cool stuff. Regardless of whether or not Microsoft pulls it all off in the long run, the Xbox One is here today and it’s an impressive piece of gaming and entertainment gear. We may have access to all of the latest cutting edge PC technology around here, but we’ll be glued to this Xbox One for a while, and that’s saying something.