2017 has been a trying year for Microsoft. The Xbox One was off to a slow start and received hefty criticism when their exclusive IP Scalebound was cancelled. With the console having been on the market for its fourth year, we may feel that its stay has been a bit of both lackluster and somehow encouraging all at once.
To even state how the console is performing on the market is a bit trying due to the recent release of the Xbox One X, a console that has taken the world by storm, and because Microsoft is no longer sharing their sales totals for the Xbox One. One encouraging step is the fact that Xbox boss Phil Spencer has made it clear, for him and Microsoft, they are no longer gauging their successes upon the Xbox One’s console sales. This means that Microsoft has broadened their view of success based on several factors including hardware and software sales, but also their offered subscription services such as Xbox Live and Xbox Game Pass.
But that also goes to show that Microsoft remains loyal to their user-friendly strategies with Xbox One and will continue to do so going forward. As 2017 is beginning to come to a close as our holiday season quickly approaches, it’s time to take a look back at 2017, and see what may come in the following year.
The Good of Xbox One in 2017 Thanks to Xbox One X
For Microsoft, 2017 hasn’t been a bad year in all reality. Hardware sales have been spectacular for them and has boded well for the company all together. Fan reception has been quite well for their powerhouse Xbox One X, which looks absolutely stunning to those whom had a chance to get their hands on it, but even those whom have not had a chance just yet.
Games such as Forza Motorspot 7, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, Gears of Wars 4, Halo 5: Guardians and even the recently released Assassin’s Creed Origins look absolutely phenomenal on Microsoft’s newest piece of hardware. Critical reception has been well received for the enhancements the games have seen including boosted resolutions, higher framerates, and even 4K support to previously released titles.
But unfortunately, this does come with some minor confusion for fans that have looked to join Microsoft’s family of consoles: PlayStation 4 Pro versus Xbox One and which is better. Even with enhancements made to the games, PlayStation 4 Pro has an easy advantage: they tell you what you are getting from the updates whether it’s HDR or even higher performance in 1080p without 4K support. Unfortunately, Microsoft’s Xbox One X doesn’t do this nor does it have a way for you to look into this element, but it doesn’t hurt the Xbox One X in any way. The games are absolutely gorgeous whether they are native 4K or using dynamic resolution scaling.
But the Xbox One X does just as Phil Spencer and his teams promised: It delivers a graphical experience unlike any other, it strips down the need of having to build a high-end PC for solid 4K visuals, and it even enhances games past what we’d have expected. For those wanting to draw a solid comparison between Xbox One X and PlayStation 4 Pro is there and it’s time for the two to show down who has the bigger guns. The only draw back for both of these companies and their more powerful hardware iterations? They both have compromises that must be made in order for games to work on their less powerful brothers and sisters.
Let alone has Microsoft continually made strides in order to offer the best experience possible across their Xbox family. Their Xbox Game Pass is rather enjoyable, allowing fans to enjoy a PlayStation Now like experience, but across multiple generations of Xbox One games. As the backwards compatibility options continually grow across the board, Microsoft has had the work cut out for them, and the Xbox One X is doing what they intended, gloriously.
Xbox One X is the gift Microsoft has been looking for in recent years. In many ways, Phil Spencer has given Microsoft a second chance moving forward, and offers various studios multiple ways to enhance games across the board. This extends not just to Xbox One games, but even Xbox 360 and even Original Xbox titles. Luckily for us, Microsoft is doing this at no additional cost, which shows their appreciation for their fans.
Microsoft has Improved the Usability of Xbox One
Since the launch of the Xbox One, Microsoft has been consistent in delivering overall improvements based upon user feedback. Within the year, they began bridging the gap from frustration and intuitive access. This has been a ongoing project for the teams at Xbox, but fortunately, they’ve been completing this work-in-progress quite well over the course of four years.
This latest iteration of the dashboard we’ve seen is a massive improvement, one of the best ones we’ve seen since the days of the Xbox 360 and it’s one that is overall quite a bit easier to navigate. One of the first updates arrived in March, one that dedicated less space to active applications such as games or video viewing. but it did provide players a chance to visit the hub for the applications. The update also made use of the Xbox Guide with the single press of the guide button, giving users a chance to access DVR features or take screenshots, or even join parties if they wished.
One of the highly requested additions were made, which featured an on-screen Achievement tracker for achievement hunters. Another even included integration to using Mixer, and the allowance for fans to stream outside of Twitch. Within the past few months we’ve even seen some of the operating systems biggest overhauls which include a sleep new design, faster performance speeds, and even higher levels of customizations. While it looks like the March update for all intents and purposes, it actually functions quite differently from previous iterations.
The console is more responsive, the console is easier to navigate, and allows for gamers to bounce between digital applications with ease. For the home screen, players can now fully customize it with “Content Blocks,” ones that are dedicated to a gamers own choice. If you want a specific friend on your dashboard, they can be placed there, if you wish a certain game to be listed, you can do that as well. The Xbox Guide is even easier to use than before thanks to its new horizontal layout.
But what’s even more admirable is how Microsoft has handled each of the dashboards sections including the Microsoft Marketplace, Mixer, Community, and the users home screen menu.
Xbox One Receives a Healthy Library of Games
Despite what gamers will tell you, the Xbox One has a massive selection of games to choose from, and games to enjoy. While fans can state there aren’t as many Xbox One exclusives, the console has received a healthy amount of games varied across Microsoft’s multiple generations, and third-party release indie titles. Exclusive titles such as Cuphead, Everspace, and Conan Exiles have been well received since their launches.
Games such as Forza Motorsport 7 and Halo Wars 2 served as solid first party titles, delivering admirable experiences much as one would expect. Even the Halo Wars port was rather admirable and easy to enjoy for those whom looked to revisit the title. For fans that own the Xbox One X, 2017 hasn’t left you pining for a new experience. Thanks to the Xbox One enhanced updates, those third-party games are rather admirable, and offers a definitive experience on previously released titles.
Thankfully, Microsoft hasn’t slowed down in any form. The company has already began prepping for PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds as it sets its eyes on a console launch, giving players a unique experience compared to most games on the market to this day. If these are just preludes to what is to come as far as games are concerned, Microsoft has a lot coming their way in the following year and could make a bigger splash than expected.
But here’s a glimpse of Microsoft’s year all around.
- Games With Gold serves up a solid 48 games featuring titles on both Xbox One and Xbox 360, giving fans a chance to enjoy their large library across multiple generations of consoles.
- Xbox One retains its exclusive rights to EA access on consoles. Since it’s only $30 a year, fans on Xbox got to enjoy titles such as Battlefield 1, Titanfall 2,and Mass Effect: Andromeda through streaming.
- Microsoft has heavily improved visual fidelity on the Xbox One with the Xbox One S and Xbox One with HDR support.
- Xbox One still struggles with limited hard drive space due to the focus of using 500GB HDD’s while the Xbox One X is now struggling with its 1TB hard drive due to 4K assets.
- Microsoft officially axed the Xbox One’s Kinect, eliminating its overall usefulness, and what players expect to see out of it. For Xbox One X owners, the console, like the One S, lacks a port for the sensor, forcing users to purchase a dongle.
- Scalebound has been cancelled and completely shuddered.
While Microsoft has continually made strides to improve the Xbox One family, they still have a lot of work cut out for them in the future and the company seems up to the task. While the Xbox One family are unlikely to ever catch up to the PlayStation 4’s current output of support and exclusives, Microsoft is on the right tracks, and could quite possibly bring in a few new fans before much longer. The company has even make amends in order to make amends with their fans by focusing on intuitive and innovative decisions.
While Microsoft does have quite a few unannounced games in the works, we have little to no idea when to expect them, and if they are even something that fans will flock to. Unfortunately, there’s no way Microsoft can currently move around this hurdle in silence. Since fans are eager to have games that will take full advantage of the Xbox One X, and the Xbox One, we can only wonder what 2018 will look like for the company.
- Xbox One has seen a lot of consumer-friendly designs for their dashboard to improve user friendliness.
- Xbox One X released providing some of the best visual and performance updates to some of the biggest hits of this generation.
- Microsoft has continued support of their cross-play and Play Anywhere functionalities for both Xbox One and Windows 10 users.
- Xbox One’s dashboard is still a project in the works, which means we could see some reiterating in the future.
- Microsoft is still struggling to really find a balance between first-party exclusives and third-party exclusives.
- Microsoft still remains heavily outclassed by Sony’s first-party exclusives, which have remained launching back to back since 2013.
- 500GB’s is still the standard size hard drive for the Xbox One S and 1TB seems to be the “sweet spot” for the Xbox One X despite higher memory requirements for 4K visual assets.
- The cancellation of Scalebound and delay of Crackdown 3 was a major punch in the gut for Xbox One owners.
About the Writer:
Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the boarders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook.