If you’re a gamer of a certain age, you’ll have discovered this industry during the pitched Mario-vs-Sonic battles of the nineties. What a darn first impression that would have made.
It was a rough time, friends, there’s no denying it. Friendships were won and lost at recess, you were forbidden to join that game of tag, the cool crowd would disown you, all because you supported the wrong side. there was no question as loaded and controversial as "do you prefer Mario or Sonic?"
Don’t even try being one of those rich kids who owned both consoles. The schoolyards of two decades ago did not take kindly to that sort of thing.
It’s curious (and a little embarrassing, honestly) to see just how little has changed in that regard today. I mean, sure, the battlefields have changed from the schoolyard to the internet forum and comment section, but it’s the same old console war.
You know how it goes. The same old arguments are brought up time and again. Whose system exclusives are better, who’s selling more, who’s got more gigahertz, teraflops, and rhododendrons under the hood. There will always be the rabid fans. There will always be the apologists. As Kanye West will tell you, during one of his seemingly-wise social media rants, there will always be the haters.
Regardless of how much you enjoy such-and-such a console, though, every system has its flaws and odd quirks. From the color of the logo (which was chosen because a designer’s pens were stolen) to the quirks of Kinect and the console’s in-built ‘pizza tracker,’ let’s settle in for 25 Things That Make No Sense About Xbox One.
23 You Can Play PS4 On Xbox One (For Some Reason)
That’s right, friends. We’re kicking this party off the right way, by starting with the fact that you can play your PlayStation 4 right through your Xbox One.
It’s a never the twain shall meet sort of situation, and it’s made possible through the One’s HDMI pass-through feature. As NBC News reports, “With the two ports on the console, gamers could plug any HDMI-compatible device — be it a cable box, a media streaming device, or even an Xbox 360 — into the Xbox One to get split-screen viewing and other hyper-entertainment perks.”
Yes, this does include the PS4, but funnily enough, Microsoft doesn’t want you doing that. It’d make for a laggy gaming experience, they reported, due to HDMI latency. "Also," they added, "Sony smells and they aren’t our friends."
Except, no, they didn't actually say that last part at all.
22 Ah, The Good Old Days Of AA Batteries
With the holidays just behind us, I’m in a bit of a nostalgic mood. For Christmases gone by, I’d be given all kinds of fancy robot toys and such. They were real AA battery eaters, let me tell you.
Today, a lot of this sort of gadgetry has switch to USB charging and similar methods. Not so with the Xbox One, though, which still powers its controllers the old-fashioned way. Depending on your own personal gaming habits, this can be a surprisingly expensive business.
Cheap batteries, after all, tend to last all of about eighteen seconds. As my parents found out to their chagrin, back in the day.
21 Installing Games Offline Goes Faster (Which Is Silly)
As we’ll see later, the Xbox One has certainly had a thing about keeping us online at all darn times. That’s not always the way, though, as canny users have found a bit of an exploit that requires us to be offline.
If those sometimes-super-long waits for games to install from the disk are getting you down, there's an easy fix for that.
As many users have reported, forcing the console offline before inserting the disk and starting the install can make the process a little faster. Dramatically faster, in some cases. It’s a curious thing, but there it is.
20 The Duke Returns
It’s a curious thing, nostalgia, isn’t it? For even the most dedicated fan of the relics of gaming’s past, there comes a point where you’ve got to wonder whether it’s time to let go.
When Nintendo hit us with that huge, hype-tastic Super Smash Bros. Ultimate presentation, they went to great lengths to explain that it would be compatible with GameCube controllers. Some fans flocked to the controller adaptor, while others wondered if that particular controller should have been put out to pasture at this point.
It’s the same thing with the original Xbox’s notoriously huge ‘Duke’ controller, which received a Xbox One remake some time back. Gamers with hands like mutated dinner plates must have been thrilled to see it.
19 What Did Physical Games Ever Do To You?
As console storage space has improved (and external drives have become more affordable), more of us have found ourselves leaning towards digital gaming. Frequent sales are a huge factor in this, too, as is sheer, simple convenience. A system like Nintendo Switch, with portability on its side, is a perfect candidate for digital-only gaming.
It’s Xbox One, however, that really wanted to push us away from physical game disks. In another early policy they had to flip-flop on after intense backlash, Xbox One wanted to outright prevent us lending games to friends and family. And eradicate the second-hand market. IGN has the lowdown on how these infamous policies worked, before they were reversed.
18 Could It Be Xbox One X’s Year?
We’re all familiar with the old chestnut that there’s never been a better time to [buy into such-and-such a product]. PR teams for all sorts of companies around the world just love trotting this one out.
If you were to ask Microsoft, though, they’d tell you that there really has never been a better time to get on board with Xbox One X. The console has struggled to make a huge impact so far, and some have dismissed it, but that seems a little premature.
With blockbuster releases like Red Dead Redemption 2 taking full advantage of its capabilities (“The game doesn’t just look a little better on the Xbox One X compared to the competition; the Xbox One X version is a significant upgrade from every other available version if you’re playing on a 4K display,” Polygon reports), perhaps it’s coming into its own as the superior console gaming experience after all?
It makes no sense to dismiss it so quickly, especially considering the X’s drop to a more reasonable price point.
17 4K? No Way! Yes, Way.
A lot of gamers these days are thoroughly committed to keeping their setups and rigs as up-to-date as possible. Gaming is a way of life, after all, and you want to experience your games at the highest resolution and frame rate possible. This is why, for so many of us, the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X have been essential upgrades.
The odd thing, though, is that lots of us don’t appreciate one of the X’s other talents: enhancing older titles from the Xbox back catalog. If Microsoft could expand this function (it’s only available with a select crop of titles, as I mentioned earlier), it could become a huge selling point.
16 Now You’re Playing With Power (But What Are You Playing?)
Nintendo’s fans often say the company simply focuses on making fun, E for Everybody-type games, while PlayStation and Xbox get bogged down in tech specs and such. We all know what fans can be like, so we’re not going to go too deeply into it, but one thing’s for sure: Microsoft certainly want to be on top, performance-wise.
Since the release of the Xbox One X, they’ve been proudly touting the fact that they have the world’s most powerful console in their corner. It’s a stunning system, for certain, when you’ve got the matching technology to take advantage of it. It’s still a little lacking when it comes to games themselves that do so, however.
15 Dude, Where Are My Exclusives?
So, yes. We’ve already touched on the fact that exclusive games are among the biggest selling points of a console. Just look what happened to Nintendo Switch, when Super Mario Odyssey arrived and things really took off. Look at the impact that Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has had.
Much like PS4, Xbox One struggled to bring those big-ticket items to the table to get consumers emptying their wallets. PlayStation really have got things together lately, though, with a stellar line-up including Marvel’s Spider-Man and God of War this year.
Xbox, by contrast, continues to struggle in that regard. It’s a shame.
14 Wherefore Art Thou, Rare?
Once again, gamers of a certain age will remember the carnage that ensued when Rare (beloved developer of GoldenEye 007, Perfect Dark, Banjo-Kazooie and the like) were bought out by Microsoft. The company had been a crucial second-party developer for Nintendo, and their loss in 2002 was a huge blow.
The saddest part is, this powerful gaming ally just hasn’t been at its best since. Around 2010, they started work on some fairly shonky Kinect Sports titles, which is hardly the legacy such an esteemed developer wants to leave for themselves.
The biggest thing they’ve done lately is Rare Replay, an Xbox One exclusive compilation of their titles of yore. Then there was Sea of Thieves, which we’ll get to a little later.
13 Will You Be The Chewbacca To My Han Solo?
If anybody wants to use that for their nerdy marriage proposal, go ahead and do it. I won’t sue or anything, but a shout out would be nice.
Silliness aside, let’s get onto one of Xbox One’s most mysterious and underappreciated features: copilot mode. You may never have used or even heard of this feature, but it’s a way of linking two controllers and having them (sort of) function as one. You can access it through the Settings app and Ease of Access tab, as detailed here.
A little unwieldy, sure, but it’s excellent for younger players or those who struggle to use a controller in its standard configuration.
12 Why Has Nobody Else Got Backwards Compatibility Right?
Well, no, the Xbox One’s backwards compatibility isn’t perfect. You can’t just pop in an Xbox/Xbox 360 disk of your choosing and game off into the sunset. It’s clearly been somewhat of a priority over the system’s lifespan, though, and that’s a whole lot more than we can say for PlayStation 4.
What Microsoft has done is periodically release select titles from their past consoles. Users who own the disk of said game insert it into the console to install a ‘new,’ Xbox One-compatible version of said game. It’s not as intuitive as it could be, and it’s limited, but some of these versions are enhanced to run better (and further enhanced on Xbox One X).
11 Because You Never Know When Pizza Time Will Hit
As we’ll also see later, the Xbox One has never really marketed itself as a straight-up games console in the traditional sense. It’s an all-singing, all-dancing multimedia hub of dreams, is more the direction Microsoft have taken with this.
It does play video games, true enough, but it also boasts an app for every-freaking-thing beyond that. One of the greatest and most ridiculous, in my eyes, would have to be the Domino’s app.
As the official site explains, it’s fully compatible with SmartGlass and Kinect, allowing you to make and customize orders with a tap or a wave. There’s even, hilariously, an in-built pizza tracker, which pops up on the screen while you’re gaming or watching movies/shows. It’s the lazy gamer’s dream.
10 Just What The Heck Was The Deal With Fighter Within?
As we’ve seen, then, the Kinect was a huge, unwieldy and mandatory part of the Xbox One’s early life. If you’re going to bundle it with the system, like a terrible Christmas gift from your great aunt Maureen, you’d better at least have something ready to show it off.
That something was launch title Fighter Within, a Kinect-only fighting game published by Ubisoft. Was it a Wii Sports-style selling point for the hardware? Not quite. It was more of a huge steaming pile of Triceratops droppings, like in that scene from Jurassic Park.
The concept was neat, if a little throwaway (you’re the fighter, and your own movements are the attacks), but the controls simply did not and would not work.
9 What’s In A Name?
This might be a petty and snarky little thing, but heck. We all need a little more pettiness and snark in our lives. With that in mind, let’s take a look at one of the first aspects of Xbox One that took the brunt of the internet’s wrath: the system’s very name.
Generally, there’s a theme to these things. PlayStation to PlayStation 2 to PlayStation 3? Sure, we can all see how that works out. Xbox to Xbox 360 to Xbox One? That’ sounds like a bit of a downgrade, right there.
It’s like we’ve gone so far back in time that 359 Xbox successors haven’t yet been released.
I totally understand that it’s all connected to the fact that this will be the One and only, do-everything multimedia machine, but it just doesn’t give a great first impression.
8 And Speaking Of Multimedia Machines…
While we’re on the subject, I think this was another factor in the Xbox One’s lukewarm reception. Many of Microsoft’s big shows and conferences around the system emphasised this fact first: that it’s the only multimedia machine you need.
This is all well and good, but the actual video games themselves took a bit of a backseat. PlayStation, meanwhile, pushed their whole ‘for the players’ tagline to the hilt, reinforcing the fact that this was a gaming machine first and foremost.
With this in mind, it’s a bit of a no-brainer as to where the average gamer (allegiances aside) would turn.
7 I Always Feel Like Somebody’s Watchin’ Me (And I Have No Privacy, Whoa Whoa Whoa)
Now, I’m really, really hoping that at least some of you out there got that reference. That’s a great song, after all, and I’m darn well not afraid to show my age by quoting it.
Hastening right along, it wasn’t just the mandatory Kinect that made gamers feel just a little uncomfortable about the Xbox One early in its life.
The system doesn’t quite demand to be connected to the internet at all times, but it’s the next best (that is, worst) thing. That whole needs-internet-connection-once-per-day policy was a real PR nightmare when Microsoft first announced it back in 2013.
6 It Costs *HOW* Much?
For a lot of us, of course, it’s the company that matters. If you’re a big fan of Nintendo games, for instance, it’s likely that you’re going to gravitate towards the Switch. A system may cost a little more than its competitors, but the crucial thing is that you’re going to get the games that you want.
Those who are neutral in that regard will tend to prioritize another factor when it comes to new tech: the price. Xbox One, weighed down literally, metaphorically and financially by the packed-in Kinect peripheral, was simply more expensive than its rival. In terms of early momentum, this really proved to be its undoing.
5 Who In Heckola Thought Alien: Isolation Kinect Was A Good Idea?
Now, you’re probably vaguely familiar with Alien: Isolation. It’s hardly a genre-defining essential experience, but it’s a reasonably unnerving and enjoyable stealthy horror game. A solid effort, at the very least.
Alien: Isolation with the Kinect features, on the other hand? Stop that. Stop that right NOW.
It’s a neat idea, and the lean-y, peek-y controls actually work rather well (which isn’t something you can say about many Kinect games), but it gets you almost too involved in the experience. The real kicker is the sound detecting feature, in which any noises picked up by the mic will alert the xenomorph to your location.
Good luck with that if you have an excitable dog, like I do.
4 The Mystery Of The Green Logo
Sometimes, subtle twists of fate have huge consequences. Penicillin was discovered by sheer chance in the late 1920s. Not quite as significantly, the Xbox logo’s iconic green color resulted from the theft of all the artist’s other colored pens.
That’s right, friends. As reported by TechnoBuffalo, the co-creator of Xbox, Seamus Blackley, explained:
“A guy called Horace Luke, when we had to have a logo for a meeting or something, he had one of those awesome sets of markers with the paint tips, and so everybody immediately stole all of them. The only color he had left was like the green nobody wanted, and so we made all this artist stuff with green and now it’s like still green.”
3 Just What Went Wrong With Ryse: Son Of Rome?
The thing about launch line-ups is, they don’t always have any of the bigger heavy-hitters in place. Not every console can drop with a Super Mario 64 ready and waiting, after all.
If you’re one of those who wants to leap right onto a console on day one, you’ve got to take your thrills where you can get them. For me, Crytek’s Ryse: Son of Rome was the biggest draw of Xbox One’s launch.
It was a bold, visceral, beautiful game, which shone with all the virtues that Xbox One wanted to put out there.
Sadly, it was also an unfortunate case of style over substance, taking the flashy-looking hack and slash concept to the extreme.
2 What Happened To Sea Of Thieves?
2018, as I say, has been an impressive year for the gaming industry. Huge hits like God of War, Monster Hunter World, and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate have been hitting shelves.
One console exclusive that many were looking forward to being Rare’s Sea of Thieves. The concept of a co-operative pirate ‘em up seemed like a real winner from the off, but things took an unfortunate No Man’s Sky direction on launch.
A combination of unfortunate decisions from the devs and a lack of content on launch did the promising game absolutely zero favours.
Still, like No Man’s Sky, regular updates have done the game a lot of good, so maybe we shouldn’t lose hope just yet.
1 The Ultimate Media Centre? Well…
So, yes. As we’ve seen, Microsoft have been keen to put the Xbox One forward as the media hub to end all media hubs. Gaming is a huge part of this philosophy, for sure, but it’s not all Microsoft are focusing on here.
The odd thing, with that in mind, is that there are still certain oversights holding Xbox One X back. For one, the OS is a little clunky, and not everything is compatible with that mighty 4K. This includes the HDMI video input, which is a real problem when you’ve got a supreme audio/visual setup that does support such.