Two weeks later, is the Xbox One worth a purchase?
The Xbox One has been out for two weeks now, so it's safe to assume we're beyond the point of any major problems. Yes, there may still be some defective hardware, but the overall functions and services of Microsoft's next-gen console have been in the hands of the public long enough to cast judgment.
Now as I've said in the past, I'm not a fan of giving consoles a "score." So rather than assigning some sort of number and starting a flame war, let's look at some of the good and the bad.
Many would say the Xbox One had a stronger launch lineup than the PS4, but reviews seem to indicate that both kind of stink. Neither console seems to have a first-party blockbuster exclusive that makes the system a must-buy. And the third-party games, while a slight improvement over current-gen, are still lackluster.
Two weeks after launch, not much has changed of the Xbox One's game lineup. You've got Ryse: Son of Rome, Forza Motosport 5, LocoCycle, Crimson Dragon, Fighter Within, Dead Rising 3, Zoo Tycoon, and a bunch of games from Ubisoft, EA, and other third-party publishers that you can already play on Xbox 360. While some of these games may be appealing, none of them scream "must-buy." And that's the problem with the Xbox One as a gaming machine in its current state -- it lacks a signature title.
Microsoft designed the Xbox One to be at the center of your living -- an "all-in-one" entertainment device capable of playing games, watching TV, chatting with friends, and more. With a simple press of the button, or voice command, you can instantly switch between these features on-the-fly. And after two weeks of testing, I'm happy to say this feature works as promised. Switching apps is about as fast as one could hope.
Xbox Feedback on subtle annoyances
For as much of an improvement as the Xbox One is over the Xbox 360, there's still a few odd design choices that have left many gamers complaining about -- like the omission of a battery indicator on the home screen for example. Or the hassle one must go through to view the details of an Achievement. Or puzzling party system.
I suggest checking out the fan-made Xbox Feedback site, which provides a more in-depth list of complaints and see if any of them affect your opinion of the console.
Kinect for gaming?
Ah, the Kinect. Easily one of the Xbox One's coolest features -- the peripheral was also one of its most criticized. From spying on you to increasing the Xbox One's price tag by $100, there was a lot of negativity surrounding the device which comes bundled with every Xbox One.
My biggest complaint? Microsoft still hasn't found a way for the Kinect to really transform gaming. The Fighter Within was simply horrid and aside from dancing and exercise games, developers have yet to really find a role for it in gaming. Sure, voice commands while playing games is pretty useful, but if you are looking for it to revolutionize gaming, then look elsewhere.
And really, what's stopping Microsoft from allowing users to use their headsets for voice control. Even the PlayStation 4 allows that!
Kinect for navigation?
I think it's time we -- and Microsoft -- accept that the Kinect is better suited as a navigation device than a gaming peripheral. The Kinect has undergone tremendous improvement in terms of facial and voice recognition. While you'll sometimes need to repeat yourself, the Kinect does a fantastic job of picking up your commands and performing the action, quickly too. There are still some kinks to work out, but this is easily one of the best uses for the Kinect, especially since the Xbox dashboard layout is a complete mess to navigate through. It's also nice to not have to take your hands off the control to perform a command.
Is the Xbox One worth a purchase now?
Assuming you can actually find one this holiday season -- is the Xbox One actually worth your $500?
If you are looking for a gaming machine, then the answer is no right now. It just doesn't offer enough of a leap over the Xbox 360 or current-gen to justify a $500 purchase. If you are in it solely for games, then you might be better off waiting until the catalog grows a bit. There's still a number of next-gen games -- Titanfall, Watch Dogs, Destiny, the new Halo -- that we're anxiously awaiting. Wait a few weeks or months and see what the future holds. I'm sure we'll see a bit of that future this weekend during the VGX.
With that said, if you must-have the latest piece of technology, then sure -- go for it. The Xbox One is definitely a cool gadget that shows a lot of promise. It may not have the games to support it, but the vision is definitely there. Right now, I find that I'm using the TV functionality the most. Switching between games and entertainment has never been easier, but again, is not having to pick up another remote worth $500? I'd say no, not yet.