Xbox One: First Impressions

Xbox One: Day One Edition

When it comes to technology, I’m generally an early tester, late adopter, especially when it comes to gaming. We got a Wii about 1.5 years after it had launched, and didn’t buy an Xbox 360 until last December, but something about the Xbox One grabbed my attention from the moment it was announced. More importantly, though, it grabbed my non-gaming wife’s attention, who then shocked me by pre-ordering it from Amazon the first day they opened pre-orders!

We debated for a while about whether or not to cancel the pre-order (or keep it and sell it on Ebay), and when Watch Dogs was delayed I seriously considered it, but once it arrived Friday afternoon, along with Forza 5 and Lego Marvel Superheroes, any thoughts of letting Day One pass us by faded quickly.

The initial setup was quick and easy, and the Day One update (500MB) was installed and ready to go in less than 30 minutes. Most of the core apps had to be installed individually, taking another 30 minutes or so, and then we were ready to play some games.

Almost…

I went for Forza 5 first, and it had an unexpected 6GB update that took a while to download and install, but once it did, we were off to the races!

Forza5 Audi RS3 Limited Collector's Edition

Not counting Mario Kart, I’ve never really considered myself a fan of racing games (though I enjoyed Project Gotham Racing 2 on the original Xbox), but Forza Horizon got its hooks into me this year and Forza 5 quickly became my launch game of choice for the Xbox One, so much so that I went for the Limited Edition. Not only did I log [redacted] hours playing it this weekend, my son really enjoys it, too, giving us something other than Halo and brawlers to play co-op.

We also got Lego Marvel Superheroes which is crazy fun (I’m waiting for my kids to unlock Moon Knight before I devote too much time to it), and downloaded two freebies: Killer Instinct and Kinect Sports Rivals Preseason. KI is a solid brawler, and if we didn’t already have Injustice on the 360, I’d consider paying for the full version (I’m still tempted, nevertheless), while Sports Rivals looks like it could be Wii Sports all over again, only better.

The non-gaming features are clearly a work-in-progress, but there’s something very next-gen-cool about being able to talk to your TV and switch seamlessly between various media experiences, including integration with cable, YouTube, Skype, and even Netflix which we’re about to go back to. I even experimented a bit with Upload Studio, creating my first two gaming videos for YouTube using the “Xbox, record that.” voice command.

The unheralded killer app, though, just might be Xbox Fitness, a surprisingly solid hybrid that melds traditional workout videos with a real-time interactive layer, resulting in an engaging experience that’s both an effective physical workout and a compelling demo of the new Kinect’s improvements and shortfalls. (It will also test your internet connection, and is forcing us to finally upgrade our router to something more current gen!)

While the Xbox One’s overall platform is clearly a work-in-progress, it’s been a far more stable launch than I expected, and I’m glad we took the risk and went for the Day One experience.

If you’re on Xbox Live, especially if you play Forza 5 or Forza Horizon, friend me at “glecharles” and let’s play a game!

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Guy LeCharles Gonzalez

As in guillotine. Old/new media pragmatist. Sometimes loud, one-time poet, still opinionated. Reading, writing, running, gaming, soccer, beer.

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