The console wars are in full swing now with the PS4 and Xbox One finally hitting homes around the world. We’ve had extensive play time with both consoles here at Power Leveled and have experienced the ups and downs with the new generation.
The great thing about this generation, and the last, is that things can change. With that being said, I am going to give my opinions on what changes Microsoft should make on the Xbox One.
Expand Kinect 2.0’s Vocabulary
The new Kinect is great and I use the damn thing all the time, but mainly just for voice commands. I don’t mind having to repeat myself every once in a while, but I don’t like how I have to say some commands only one way or how I have to say the full name of an app or movie to execute the command. Microsoft needs to make an update that allows gamers to use more phrases to navigate around the Xbox One and give a little lenience in some commands. If I want to play Forza, I would like to say “Xbox go to Forza” instead of “Xbox go to Forza Motorsport 5”. I’d also like to say “launch” or “load” or”play” instead of “go to” in some cases. This is an update that we should expect to come true in the next year.
Fix The Clutter
The Xbox One believes that “games” and “apps” are one and the same. Everything is an app on the Xbox One and they are all stored in the same place, My Games & Apps. This is like a bucket where the Xbox literally puts everything that you can use. And like throwing everything in a bucket, it is a complete mess. Youtube, games, music, tv, and even settings are all in there with no way to filter them. There is no easy way to go to a game, app, or even the settings unless you use voice commands or have them pinned on your home screen. Microsoft needs to add categories and structure to the organization of its UI so that it actually makes sense and becomes easier to navigate. This issue is also prevalent in Xbox’s marketplace, but to a lesser extent. I expect this to be addressed at some point, but it may be a full year before we see an update that could fix this issue.
Put 2 Front USB Ports on the damn thing
I honestly do not know how this escaped everyone’s minds when they were designing the Xbox One, but there is no USB ports on the front of the device. There is 1 USB 3.0 port on the left side and a few in back. Apparently Microsoft felt that this was too unsightly or too convenient to have at least 2 USB ports on the front for wired controllers or accessories. Or maybe they thought that only 1 person would be playing the system at a time. This is just a ridiculous oversight.
What Microsoft needs to do when they do their slim remodel of the Xbox One a few years down the road, is make the device actually make sense. Have controller/accessory ports on the front and allow people to stand it up on its side. Not much that can be done about that until the remodel. People in the fighting game community will just have to be annoyed that they have to plug their $200 arcade sticks into the back of the Xbox One.
Bring Back Recently Played People
One of the great things about the current generation of gamers is our ability to socially interact with fellow gamers. When you meet someone online or in a game that you connect with or have a great time with, you can send them a message or party invite to continue the fun. The Xbox One removes this ability and unless you know exactly what that person’s gamertag was, you’re shit out of luck. In games like Killer Instinct, there is no ability to view the profile of a player you just fought against. What you would have been able to do on the Xbox 360 is open up Friends and see your recently played list to find the person you just played against. This feature just didn’t make it on release. I phrased it that way because some Microsoft developers and support have confirmed that this specific feature is coming to the Xbox One post launch. There is no exact time frame though.
Microsoft’s Xbox gave gamers the ability to communicate across any game or app with its party feature back on the Xbox 360 and the same is true today on the Xbox One. There have been some changes though. For some odd reason, participants in a party now have to “enable communication” before they can hear or speak in the party. It is not on by default when you join a party and there is no way to set it so that it does enable it by default.
Inviting your party to your game has also changed. There is no universal “Invite Party to Game” feature within the Party app. Instead you have to rely on the in-game options for inviting people which so far have been god awful. Sending a quick invite to your party needs to be brought back.
Switching Between Snap and your Game
Snap is a cool feature where you can put certain apps on a side bar while you play your game, watch a movie, or really do whatever. The very first issue I ran into with Snap was that I had no idea how to get back to the game I was playing after I snapped something in. I tried pressing the Xbox button then, clicking the main running app window, but it put me back in the snap window. So I then I went and actually clicked the game I was playing from my apps to get back into the game. Later I found out that you could say “Xbox switch” and it will switch between snap and the main app you are using. Would have been great if I didn’t have to Google that. There needs to be a simpler way to switch between snap and your game from the controller.
Achievements and Notifications
Achievements are like a drug to people and when you get one out of the blue, you want to see what you did to get it. Viewing achievements and notifications (because they appear in the same spot) is weird. From the home screen, in the top left you have two icons. The first is your notifications and the second is your account. Cool, we’ve located where they are. Now actually going to it is a different story. I stay away from it because it take forever to load this side scrolling, fullscreen menu. This has got to be hands down the slowest thing on the Xbox One. But once you’ve loaded up your recent notifications, you can see your recent achievements….actually you can just see that you got an achievement recently. You have to then click on the achievement and go to achievements app with some more loading and an unskippable 100% animation before you can finally read what the achievement was and how you got it.
The entire notifications menu needs to be overhauled. You should be able to see them while in game as a small ribbon at the top of the screen that takes as little system memory and processing power as possible. You shouldn’t have to jump through various hoops to just view the random achievement that popped up while you were playing. Microsoft…..fix this.
UPDATE: Literally….there was an update last night that addressed a few issues and increased the speed and performance of the UI. The notifications menu now loads significantly faster and smoother.
Get Rid of Proprietary Headset Jack
This one speaks for itself. The new Xbox One controller came with a step backwards in terms of how headsets go. Instead of the current gen headset jack, Microsoft decided to go with a new proprietary port that will not allow any headset that wasn’t made for the Xbox One. Hopefully they will reverse course on this in the future or an adapter will come out that fix the problem.
Game DVR and Record That
The Xbox One now allows you to record your gameplay directly and soon stream directly to Twitch. One of the really cool features that I ran into was when I was playing Forza and did a barrel roll with an Indie car, my Xbox gave me an achievement and automatically recorded that crazy moment. That was awesome and I love that feature.
At any given moment during gameplay, your Xbox is buffering 5 minutes of footage just waiting to be recorded. All you have to do is say “Xbox record that” and it will record the last 30 seconds of gameplay….wait, it’s buffering 5 minutes and only records 30 seconds when you tell it to? Maybe we can change that in the settings. Nope. Despite how much time the Game DVR is preloading, it will only ever record the last 30 seconds when you tell it to. You can get it to record more, but you have to have the Game DVR actually running to do so. So you have to snap it in and start recording. Which I never do because I don’t want that sidebar from Snap up all the time. We need to be able to set the time interval for the “record that” feature because people will always forget to have Game DVR running and 30 seconds is just not enough most of the time. Hopefully this will change in a future update.
Now I am aware that not all the features that were promised have been released yet and I’ve kept that in mind. These are issues that I personally believe should be addressed in the launch window to make the Xbox One a better system. What are some things you would like to see changed?