Over the past few days I’ve been thoroughly enjoying Sunset Overdrive. It’s a fun, stylish, and addictive action game that is on the short list of must-have games for the Xbox One. Now, I’ll admit that I don’t play my Xbox One as often as my PS4, Wii U, or PC, but that’s not based on platform preference, it’s simply based on where the most recent exciting releases have been for me. So coming back to the Xbox One meant that I needed to do some updates and whatnot, but those are pretty typical of the current generation systems. Annoying, sure, but hardly an issue unique to the Xbox One. Anyway, keep on reading to see why the Xbox One got me all grumpy despite acting as the home for such a fantastic new gaming experience.
The scene opens as a bunch of guys in stuffy suits sit around a board room, their ties loosened a bit to show that they’re working a bit casually. A man leads their discussion from the front of the room, standing next to a whiteboard with ideas circled, crossed out, and some with triple underlines. There’s obviously been some excitement and discussion going on here. Sound fades up as we join in on the conversation.
Suit 1: …convoluted. Yeah, I’m being serious. I think that if we make it totally convoluted and difficult that we’ll get where we’re trying to go.
Suit 2: I don’t follow. Don’t the kids like things a bit easier in their video gaming consoles these days?
Suit 1: No, that’s where you’re not seeing the big picture! If we make it as difficult and irritating to use as possible, yet still fully functional for the holdouts, we can force them to use Kinect, because to use the controller would be like trying to eat spaghetti without hands. Sure, you can do it, but it’s going to be messy.
Suit 3: What Norman is trying to say, Gene, is that we need to force them to use Kinect, because as it stands, this thing only works about half the time in perfect conditions. We’re pretty proud of that though, so don’t take that as a put down.
Suit 1, who we now know as Norman: Exactly! Thank you, Earl!
Suit 2, now known as Gene: I see…and I like that spaghetti idea. Let’s get some after this wraps up.
Suit 3, now known as Earl: Agreed. To take the spaghetti idea further, let’s just imagine each activity on the Xbox One is like following individual noodles through a bowl. That’s our target, let’s hit it, team.
*Gene, Norman, and Earl pump their fists at the same time and squeeze out determined looks*
A musical montage runs. Gene, Norman, and Earl can be seen sketching, pointing a lot, eating spaghetti, laughing, rubbing their foreheads, and as the song fades out, the three can be seen huddling around the whiteboard with a list of decisions. They look exhausted.
Norman: I’ll read it back. If we missed anything, please speak up. Ok, so, launching apps…we decided to go with “annoying.” Looks right. Navigating categories with a controller…we went with “asinine.” Seems in order. Kinect accuracy…we settled on “spotty.” So far, so good. The party system was hard, but I think we nailed it with “far worse than the simple and beautiful system we had on 360. In short, totally convoluted and confusing.” Finally, we come to speed and overall ease of use and we decided on “slow and painful unless you use Kinect, and still kind of slow even with Kinect.”
Gene: Guys, I don’t want to sound too optimistic here, but I think we nailed it in one pass. The kids are going to be raving fans.
Earl: Agreed. Phew, that was a looooooong meeting. I’m not used to these sessions that go the full hour. But hey, you can’t argue with the results.
Norman: No you can’t. Good work guys.
I’d call that satire, but this is my actual and honest educated guess about how the Xbox One’s dashboard came about. If I’m being kind, it’s a mess. I don’t like the Kinect at this point. Sure, maybe I’ll get better as time goes on, but as it is now, using Kinect is embarrassing, even when you’re sitting alone in your gaming room. If you really want to feel stupid, show your wife how “cool” the Kinect is and watch as she laughs at your “kind of neat if it worked well” $500 console.
Resorting to controller is almost preferable to using Kinect. Almost. The way that everything is “organized” on the Xbox One is beyond stupid. Random tiles flip around in place and there’s no cohesion to the style nor experience from one page to the next. I get that you can pin your favorites in place, but any time you veer from your favorites, you better fire up Google Maps, because THE SEARCH IS ON.
Not to compare too much to the PS4, but after using Sony’s very simple interface, the Xbox One feels outright assaulting to my senses. There’s too much going on, too little organization or control, and stuff that is buried or simply no longer available to view (try finding a game invite if you miss it come through). At this point I just don’t like barking commands out to my Xbox, and I don’t know that I’ll ever like it all that much. I’m hoping that the voice commands increase in accuracy though, because nothing grinds your experience to a halt faster than shouting at your Xbox 4-5 times to simply launch a game or snap an app to the side.
I love the capabilities of the Xbox One. I think snapping in TV or the Internet to the side of the screen is pretty cool, but fighting to make it all happen really makes me question whether or not I care enough to fight with the console.
I was a huge 360 fan in the last generation and only played the PS3 for its exclusives. I figured the same would be true going forward into this new generation, but so far, the Xbox One has been a chore. Please turn this around Microsoft, because I would rather have two consoles that I deeply enjoy, not one that gets relegated to dust collector role until a worthwhile exclusive comes along.