I’ve been in the Xbox One Preview Program for several months but, by now, most of us have finally seen the XB1 system overhaul and have had time to decide what they think. Industry writers are singing its praises and Microsoft execs are all but posing in front of Mission Accomplished banners; I’m over here shaking my head.
For me and most of the players I’ve talked to, this update fixes a lot of small problems and leaves the big ones. I have a friend who lost his pinned games in a redesign that, frankly, separates players from their games by too much already. I understand the desire to expose gamers to the social elements and downloadable content that fills out the experience but it’s telling that one of the first things new users are shown is a controller shortcut to jump to the bottom of the page where their games and apps are.
For another couple of friends, starting a Twitch stream in a hurry has gone from bad to worse. The “quick” menu on the left once again puts everything I’m not interested in (including the game Threes) between me and my target, then there’s another jarring disconnect when Twitch finally pops in on the opposite side of the screen.
The guide button hasn’t stopped causing trouble for me personally either. I can pretty consistently expect to pull up the dashboard when I want the quick menu and to turn the controller off when I want to shut the system down completely.
So where do players and Microsoft fall out of sync? While most of the Xbox One’s problems are minor, they are greatly exaggerated by the system’s overall sluggishness. I can’t think of anything I can’t still do faster on the 360. I can’t help but suspect the Xbox powers that be have somehow decided they’re not on the hook for making it truly responsive without excuses. This in mind, I can see why they’re high-fiving.
Backward compatibility is lovely, but let’s keep the Xbox moving forward as well.