I decided to splash out and get the new Xbox One with the intention of playing Halo: Master Chief Collection to re-live part of my childhood. The console has been out for well over a year now, but I didn’t see the need to get this newer console since my Xbox 360 does pretty much everything this new box does, and there are not (m)any games that you can only get on the One. This new Halo managed to convince me.
Once I finally got the console setup and spent hours and hours downloading the new Halo game to the console from the disc, I launched into hours and days of struggling to find things that work on the console, and in this shiny new Halo game.
Firstly, for a next generation console that has been out for over a year, the graphics don’t look great and the interface is slow and unintuitive (maybe that’s just Windows 8 in general). It gave me a bland black background to start with and the user experience is poor when trying to load anything (e.g. settings, friends list, party – they also removed some simple features like putting voice output to the tv so people in your room can hear what your online friends are saying).
Once I finally managed to get into the game (after several hours of waiting) I found that I couldn’t play online just yet (not even campaign co-op); I had to play solo Halo 1 campaign until the full game finally downloaded. The solo campaign was good fun but I wanted to experience it with friends! My hopes were that this new console, together with my annual subscription for Xbox Live, would be the best experience yet, but it was already falling short.
After literally hours of waiting for stuff to download to the box itself, I could supposedly play multiplayer to enjoy abuse from and to ADHD American kids who are clearly high on sugar. Alas, the game wouldn’t let me join my friends, eventually we worked out a hack to get us in the same game (not by use of the integrated Xbox friends list that takes a while to load up, but the in-game one that seems to work inconsistently). We launched matchmaking and got nothing for ages. We backed out to try again, nothing. We all restarted our boxes and somehow eventually got a game, only to find the 5v5 playlist not only didn’t have the supposed limit of 10 players, but also somehow managed to make it an uneven 5 vs 6!
This experience has continued for weeks now and everyone I speak to is frustrated by it.
So, I have given up with Halo. Supposedly 343 Industries (who make it) aren’t going to fix it anytime soon as they are focussing on Halo 5 (the beta of which seems to need a fair bit of work too – e.g. menu issues, weapon balancing, not being able to run whilst holding the score up etc…).
I decided to try the free game I got with the Kinect (Dance Central Spotlight); which seems to have only downloaded a trial version…I didn’t even want it, but hey, if you are going to give it to me as a freebie, don’t just give me a trial – especially when I just spent more than £400 on this whole thing!
This was topped off when over the christmas period, there was a supposed hack to the Xbox Live servers – meaning that we couldn’t even get online in any sense. But, before and after this supposed hack, I have had endless problems. I appreciate that there are security issues in the world, but this is Microsoft and a console that is supposed to be at the cutting edge – especially as it has had over a year to get rid of these teething problems.
I am extremely disappointed with the whole thing and will probably take it back for a refund this week.
The public has come to expect an incredible user experience now – fast and responsive – probably thanks to Apple. We do care about graphics, but it comes secondary to functionality; as an example, look at Minecraft – a huge success built on terrible graphics, but fantastically simple rules that work and provide a decent experience!