As we made clear in our review (found here) we love the Xbox One. It feels like a real leap forwards and some of the features and very impressive, it’s also a platform that has already brought us a handful of great games like Dead Rising, Forza, Ryse and Killer Instinct. That being said, now we’ve lived for a few weeks with the console a few significant problems have occurred. Many of these have been publicised and brought to Microsoft’s attention on this site, but here’s the problems we’ve struggled with so far.
The party system is broken
Last night me and a friend decided to play Killer Instinct. He invited me to a party and although I was sitting on the dashboard, it loaded me into Need for Speed Rivals, a game he had been playing earlier that evening. He told me he was in Killer Instinct so I backed out of Need for Speed and loaded up Killer Instinct. Once there on my friend’s screen whenever he went to exhibition match it said I had been added to the game, but it never invited me in, I could do the same and he couldn’t get in the game either. On the Xbox One there’s no ‘invite friend’ button or shortcut to invite a friend from the friends list, you simply join a party while in a game, start a multiplayer match and hope that it figures it all out for you. Occasionally it does, but it’s different on a game-by-game basis. Forza is easier to organise, Need for Speed seems incredibly unreliable, Ryse works fine. Dead Rising has an oddity where if someone in your party presses ‘invite player’ it pulls you out of your game no matter what you were doing without even asking.
This is a shambolic system that makes playing games together a terrible chore. Microsoft have broken something that worked fine and we long for a return to the previous system where you can happily be in a party with multiple people across different games and activities, with a choice to play together but nothing ever forced. We’ve got no idea how difficult that would be to implement now but the party system as it stands is pretty much useless.
Kinect is inconsistent
For the first few days with the Xbox One, ours had around a 95% success rate in detecting our voice. As time has gone on it seems to have actually got worse, implying there’s something wrong in the part of the OS that tries to learn your voice. now it hovers around 60% success, with us often having to repeat commands. It’s great when it works, but it can be frustrating when a simple command like ‘Xbox On’ takes three or four attempts to register. The gesture recognition is all over the place but that’s because we sit so close to the system. The problem occurs when a game doesn’t give you a choice about whether to use tracking or not. The head tracking in Battlefield 4 is fantastic when it works, and when it doesn’t you can quickly turn it off. In Need for Speed Rivals the voice recognition often turns my view around whenever anyone else speaks in the room. Irritatingly, you can’t turn this feature off so it’s a permanent feature of my game. Everyone has to be silent or I can’t race because the view keeps reversing. Kinect needs to be more consistent and work like it did when we first got the console, all games also need to make sure every Kinect-related feature can be turned off at will.
Control preferences aren’t saved to profiles
One of the best features of the Xbox 360 that was lacking on PC was the way it handled your profile. If you use an inverted Y-axis as I do, that decision was shared with every game you played so there was no need to go into that game’s settings to set it up. There’s very little that can ruin excitement for a new game more than having to search through options before you even play, and the 360 solved that problem. Almost inexplicably the Xbox One completely lacks the feature, even though it uses the same profiles. They could even expand them to cover things like vibration preferences, sensitivity, left handedness and more.
Too many things are apps
There might be a software reason for this, perhaps the way the different OS systems communicate is the issue, but it’s irritating to need to load up an app just to see which of your friends are online, or to see your achievements, or to browse through saved video clips. The nature of this app-based structure prevents things from coming up immediately, which seems to have been a goal of Microsoft’s so it’s confusing to see them add another layer in between you and the most commonly-used features. On the 360 you could press the guide button and quickly see who was online or get to messages or achievements, now you can have them up at the same time as you play, which is great, but if you want to see just your friends who are online there’s no easy or quick way to do that without seriously interrupting your game. Coupled with a lack of notifications when somebody comes online – you have a real problem.
Hopefully most of these will be solved before long, but as it stands these are real issues that have already annoyed or frustrated us, the way parties worked has led to us rarely playing multiplayer with people we know just because it’s such a pain to set up and get right. We’ll be revisiting this list in the new year after the spring update (assuming there is one) to see how Microsoft are doing.