After a delay of about nine months, on September 5th 2014 the Xbox One was finally officially released in all of Europe. It’s kind of a weird situation, because the console has been out for almost a year in parts of Europe, whereas other parts haven’t received Microsoft’s new console yet until now. Why did they make this decision? The initial story was that Microsoft wanted to localize Kinect speech commands for the remaining countries, but this seems like an unnecessarily radical measure for something so trivial. What’s more, the Xbox One released in the Netherlands still doesn’t support Dutch voice commands, so if this was the reason, Microsoft failed spectacularly. It probably has to do with Microsoft wanting to focus on the more important markets, especially the US, since that is where they dominated last generation. The remaining countries where so-called ‘Tier 2’ territories.
In any case, the console is out now, and by this time there are already several more options available than when it launched in the Tier 1 countries. Most importantly, a cheaper version without Kinect, and several other bundles are on the way. But there is also a Day One Edition as there was at the original launch, which makes sense because after all, this is the console’s Day One for these remaining markets.
The Day One Edition is the version shown here. It comes with the standard black console and includes a Kinect, but also has a special Day One controller.
First thing to do is to remove the outer sleeve, which makes the box look a lot better, now that the free games printed on the side are gone. And it must be said that the packaging looks rather nice: black with in a shiny layer a low key picture of the console and of the controller. Even the plastic handle bears the Xbox One logo.
The console looks quite sleek if you ask me, although it is really large, by far the biggest of the three consoles. It also has a big power adapter, and then there’s the Kinect camera also taking up space.
In terms of design the system is very straightforward: a simple rectangular shape, but the simplicity works well.
One half consists of shiny black plastic (with an Xbox One logo in the corner), the other half has a diagonal grid meant for ventilation. The front is also divided in two, with the left side (in matte black) holding the disc drive and the other half (shiny black) the power switch, a touch pad that lights up with a white Xbox One logo when the console is switched on. All the inputs are on the back.
Then there is another box inside holding all the remaining items: manuals, cables, a headset, the Kinect and the controller.
To make up for the delay, Microsoft included some games with the console, available as digital downloads. The games are Forza 5, Dance Central Spotlight and Fifa 15.
As mentioned earlier, it also comes with a headset, for online communication.
The Kinect is bigger than I expected. It does look pretty nice though, and like the console it has a white Xbox One logo that lights up when it is switched on.
The controller looks very slick. Its overall shape is very similar to that of its predecessor, but with a more angular design.
It’s matte black, with a shiny black stroke at the top bearing the Xbox One logo. This also functions as a button, and will light up white when the controller is active.
The design of the controller is once again great, and it fits into your hands naturally. Not much has changed in the feel and the layout since the 360, which is fine. The two control sticks have been redesigned with a rough edge, as if there are two small tires wrapped around it.
The d-pad is a big improvement over the first generation Xbox 360 d-pad, now that the four directions are clearly separated. It shines like a gem made out of black glass. Another big improvement is the battery compartment, which doesn’t bulge out anymore like on the 360 controller, but is integrated into the overall design.
It is still somewhat disappointing though that Microsoft didn’t go for a rechargeable battery out of the box, as Sony has done since the beginning of last generation. The letters on the four face buttons are a lot bigger now. The symbols on the start and select are a bit weird at first sight, but I guess they make sense in some way.
This is a special Day One edition, which means the words ‘Day One’ are printed on the front of the controller. Pretty cool.
Also included is a code that unlocks a ‘Day One Achievement’, a special achievement you get for buying the console on launch day. What is pretty cool is that you can redeem the product by simply showing the QR code to the Kinect camera, instead of having to type all 25 characters manually. What is less cool is that this achievement is plagued by errors, which means it did not show for some people. Apparently, Microsoft is currently looking into the issue.
To conclude, some first impressions. The Xbox One is a system with promise. Although it is behind the PS4 in terms of power, it can still stand on its own four rubber feet. The menu can be a little confusing at first, but navigation is fast, and the menus look slick. Kinect voice commands seem to work well at times, and not as well at others. When it works, it actually feels quite futuristic. Gestures are harder to get working in my experience, but it could be that my setup isn’t ideal. The Xbox One also has a snapping function so you can use apps in split screen, which is ideal for achievement hunting. There are also some complaints. For example, the system’s language options are dependent on the region you selected. Why can’t I set my system to English and my region to Dutch? It makes no sense. My hope is that Microsoft changes this in the very near future. All in all though, my first impressions are positive, and I look forward to playing more games on the console.