Xbox One review

Xbox One is improving with every firmware update and first-party exclusive

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Microsoft's bid for living room supremacy is powered by an 8 core AMD processor, backed by 8GB of DDR3 and 32MB of ultra fast ESRAM. For storage, there's a 500GB hard drive to keep your media, gameplay videos and game installs. Unlike the PlayStation 4, there's no swapping out that mechanical drive for solid state without considerable trouble, and letting your warranty fly right out the window.

Much like Xbox 360 before it, Xbox One got a much-needed front-end overhaul in the form of the New Xbox Experience that was first shown off at E3 2015, and launched to the public at the tail end of the year.

Xbox One

Here's our take from our freelancer, Dom Reseigh-Lincoln:

Two rocky years on from the console's launch, the Windows 8-inspired menus have done the much-maligned current-gen box no favours as it slowly begins to catch up to Sony's front-running PlayStation 4.

And while the New Xbox One Experience (NXE) isn't the revolutionary shake-up we were hoping for, it does address some of the key issues users have had since day one (including a cluttered approach to content layout and limited uses for pins).

More importantly, the new update takes full advantage of Windows 10, and turns using the Xbox One console into a far smoother and more intuitive experience than ever before. Microsoft says the entire operating system runs 50% faster – and while that figure isn't quite the reality, navigation feels noticeably faster and responsive.

Xbox One

The New Xbox One Experience will enable cross-platform gaming for the very first time. In other words, if you're playing a game with competitive or cooperative multiplayer modes you'll be able to team up with players from PC-based servers.

The NXE also combines the Store and new content updates into one far more agreeable (and more importantly, simplified) version of the OneGuide, and finally adds a new side pane that smacks of the second (and best) Xbox 360 dashboard.

In between the Home and Store screen is the interface's newest addition - the Friends tab. Here you'll find out which games your friends have been playing - and any possible achievements that may have t'plok'd recently - as well as a gamerscore leaderboard that displays which of your friends has earned the most points in the past month.

To the right of the Friends screen is the Store. It's divided into Games, Movies & TV, Music and Apps. There's also a Bing search bar below it. The layout is attractive and the placement is unobtrusive. We're just glad that it's been relegated to its own screen, away from the more personal Home and Pins.

Xbox One

When you're in an app or game, returning to the Home screen is as simple as pressing the Xbox button on the controller. Games are automatically paused, while videos and live TV continue to play, creating a sort of picture in picture effect.

Of course, the whole interface can also be navigated by Kinect using voice commands. The Xbox One's interface does have its unintuitive moments, and the Kinect compensates for them nicely. We're not sure why Settings has been folded into My games & apps, but being able to shout "Xbox go to Settings" saves you from having to remember that.

Xbox One review

When it comes to booting up, the Xbox One is very fast because it doesn't really turn off unless you unplug it. Holding down the Xbox button and selecting console off really just puts it in standby mode.

Surely the Xbox One needs this hidden standby functionality both for better performance, and so the Kinect can listen for your "Xbox on" command. It does stand in contrast to the PS4, which lets you choose to either go into standby, or completely turn the system off. Fully shutting down your PS4 also locks you out of cool features, like PS Vita Remote Play, or starting a download from the mobile app.

Coming out of standby, the Xbox One takes only twenty seconds to reach the Home screen. Kinect will have you signed in by then as well, unless you're sitting too far back. We sometimes had to lean forward before it recognized us.

From a full, unplugged shut down, the Xbox One takes a less impressive minute and seven seconds. Honestly though, there's no reason why you should be frequently unplugging your Xbox One. We just think it's odd that console off really means standby.

Xbox One review

So while not every design choice is transparent, you can't accuse the Xbox One's interface of being sluggish. There's no pop in on the Home screen, and overall navigation is snappy. You can drill through menus and browse your library as quickly as you can manipulate the D-pad, or bark at the Kinect.

Multitasking is where the Xbox One really shines. The system keeps your last three apps suspended, letting you switch between them with nary a stutter.

What's surprising is how little is on the system when you first get it. When you first use your Xbox One you'll frequently click on a tile, only to discover you don't actually have the corresponding app yet. Out of the box, almost nothing is pre-installed. That makes sense for third-party services, but apps like Game DVR, Xbox Video, even the Blu-ray playing software need to be downloaded and installed.

It's not such a big deal, just a telling indication of how internet-reliant this new generation of gaming will be. Be sure get all your pertinent apps downloaded before having friends over to show off the new system.


Every game on the Xbox One requires at least a partial installation before it can be played. These installs are lengthier than on PlayStation 4, but not by much.

For example, a disc copy of Madden for Xbox One needed six minutes to reach 25% installation before letting us on the gridiron. The PS4 version needed two minutes, and an additional minute to download a patch before online features were enabled.

Xbox One review

Madden NFL 25

Installing isn't a major roadblock on either system, but it is something to anticipate. It's a good idea to pop a new game in the drive the minute you get home. That way you can be sure it'll be ready when you are.

Like the PS4, the Xbox One still needs a disc to play. That's a pity, as being to ditch a disc after an install would make for a much more self-contained feel.

Xbox One review

Dead Rising 3

Getting to graphics and gameplay, a lot has been made of the fact that many third-party games run in full 1080p on the PS4, while the Xbox One versions are 720p. There are indeed sharper visuals to be found on the PS4's versions of Battlefield 4, Call of Duty: Ghosts and Assassin's Creed: Black Flag, but you need a keen eye to tell the difference.

Character models often have more detailed textures, and lighting effects can be slightly more impressive on the PS4. However, performance across the two systems is very similar, with equally smooth framerates and load times that are close in length.

The 720p vs 1080p situation is still troubling, Microsoft will need to close this visual gap in future releases. It's something we'll be keeping an eye on as we update this review down the line.

Xbox One review

Ryse: Son of Rome

The Xbox One has first-party games that show off just as much graphical gusto as the PS4. Ryse: Son of Rome and Forza Motorsport 5 are just as gorgeous as anything currently available from Sony. Dead Rising 3 is a bit behind the beauty curve but the sheer number of zombies it can render while maintaining a solid framerate is impressive.