It wouldn’t be entirely unfair to say that, as a general rule, those who are the most passionate about their gaming hobby are those who, well, let’s just say aren’t overly keen on sports. From the perspective of a gamer, the rabid fandom that seems to go along with following most sports can seem completely alien. And yet, within the world of gaming this same phenomenon exists. The console wars, as they are known, have been going on ever since the big three (Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo) started to seriously compete with one another. Prior to the arrival of Microsoft’s first Xbox, each console developer was chasing an entirely different market.
It is only relatively recently that third party developers have begun to produce their games for multiple platforms. Once this started happening, console developers started to chase exclusivity deals. Coupled with the rise of smaller developers being bought up and turned into in-house studios, this has led to the situation that we have today where adherents of each console have been known to defend their preferred choice in what some might consider to be quite an excessive manner. For the vast majority of gamers, the unwarranted vitriol that other’s preferred console choice elicits in some people is just as alien a concept as the aforementioned rabid fandom in sports. For most of us, choosing a console is about assessing our individual needs, taking a look at the games and services that are available, and settling on the most suitable option for our particular circumstances.
The Xbox One is the third generation of Microsoft’s Xbox family and it has been their most successful, by quite a considerable margin. The biggest competitor to the Xbox One is Sony’s PlayStation 4. The Nintendo Switch (and previously the Wii U) are also competitors but these consoles are chasing a different market. Here are some of the reasons why every gamer should consider choosing the Xbox One as their next games console.
Xbox One X
Modern games consoles have much longer lifespans than they used to. The general rule seems to be at least a decade between each iteration. This is good news for consumers, who don’t find themselves regularly upgrading in the way they have to do with their smartphones. The downside is that, before long, gamers are playing games on hardware that is outdated. Developers have generally been very good at finding new ways to utilize the available hardware as it ages, meaning that towards the end of a console’s lifespan, the games being produced demonstrate greater technical feats than older titles.
In order to address this, both Sony and Microsoft have decided to release more powerful, beefed up versions of their consoles which are capable of outputting 4K resolutions rather than the 1080 HD resolutions that the standard versions do. Microsoft’s offering, the Xbox One X is the most powerful home console ever produced. Obviously, it costs more than the standard model, but for those who care deeply about performance the extra price is worth it. If you want to play Xbox games on a 4K television then the One X is your only option.
Microsoft is very proud of Xbox Live, its subscription based online service. In order to access online multiplayer, and take full advantage of the what Xbox Live has to offer, you will need to pay $60 a year for access to the Gold service. The Gold service is slightly more expensive than Sony’s PS Plus, but Microsoft also offer more to consumers overall.
As part of their subscription online services, both Microsoft and Sony now offer free games every month. In Microsoft’s case, this is known as the Games with Gold program and is included in the cost of an Xbox Live Gold subscription. After a few months these free games more than make up for the cost of a yearly subscription to either service. Both services regularly offer a fantastic selection of games, although it is not always major titles on offer and the selection of games on offer each month won’t appeal to everyone. The big advantage that Microsoft has over Sony in this department is that, should your subscription to the Sony service lapse, then you will lose access to all the free games you’ve accumulated. By contrast, with Microsoft’s service you get to keep them forever.
Streaming Between Xbox and PC
Most PC gamers will be using Microsoft Windows. For years the company has talked about its plans to integrate all its various hardware so that they run the same operating system. That level of integration hasn’t happened yet but they have taken some steps in the right direction. Every build of Windows 10 now includes an Xbox app as standard. It is also available to download for those who are still using Windows 7 and 8.
Using the Xbox app, it is now possible to stream games from the Xbox One to any Windows PC, laptop, or even tablet. Because the Xbox One is still doing all the actual processing, and the other device is merely displaying what the console outputs, gamers can play their favorite games with minimal input lag on any device with Windows 7 and up.
This same feature can also be used in reverse, allowing you to stream your Windows PC to your Xbox One. This is great for streaming media which you have stored on a laptop but would like to play on your TV. This method of streaming is much easier and more convenient than hunting down an HDMI cable in order to plug your laptop into the TV directly.
Intuitive and Simple
Since its release, the Xbox One has undergone a number of major dashboard revamps. Each time the dashboard has received one of these facelifts, it has altered the way that the user interacts with their console. Upon its initial release, many reviewers found the Xbox One’s user interface a little clunky and uninspired. Microsoft have since moved away from their initial design, which was very similar to that used by Sony in the PS4, and have created something unique and easy to use. Unnecessary clutter has been removed, and users can re-launch the last game that they were playing with the simple press of a button. Take a look at this guide to get an idea of how easy setting up an Xbox One is.
Backwards compatibility, the ability to play the previous generations games on the latest consoles, is something that both Microsoft and Sony offer in some capacity, but it is another area where Microsoft come out ahead. Microsoft are aiming to ultimately make the entire Xbox 360 library available. It’s not there yet, but things are definitely moving in the right direction. If you have amassed a sizeable collection of Xbox 360 games then you will almost certainly be able to play a significant portion of them on your new console straight away.
Choosing the right games console is becoming harder, the services and features of both of the main competitors are very similar, and other than the exclusive titles on each system, they offer largely the same experience. The Xbox One edges out the PS4 in a number of areas. It is the perfect choice for those who want to be able to easily stream media throughout their homes.