Next gen's not quite there yet
Microsoft's next-gen darling has been sitting on shelves for a few months now (literally--zing!), and we've spent countless hours using it for playing great games, watching Netflix, and... well, waiting for more games.
There are some caveats to our affection for the system. Some of our problems have been around since we first touched the controller, while others have only really come up after extensive playtime (again, that Titanfall beta, man). Microsoft has released a fine piece of hardware in the Xbox One and games are coming, and we have some suggestions as to how it could be made even better, both for games and entertainment.
Start handing out those free games
Microsoft is starting to catch up to Sony in terms of giving free games to its Xbox Live Gold subscribers, but its not moving quickly enough. The Games With Gold promotion, through which XBL Gold subscribers get access to different free games each month, is said to be hitting the Xbox One at some point this year. This was a missed opportunity for Microsoft, but theres still time to make up for it. Get Games With Gold going quickly, and make the first few months of free games stellar, and maybe well stop complaining about our annual Xbox Live Gold cost.
Improve voice command recognition
Part of the solution might just be making the "Stop Listening" prompt go away faster. Whenever I say something to my Xbox there's always a lengthy debate in my head--do I tell it to Stop Listening, or do I wait until it goes away? Do I need to yell at my TV right now? Can I speak without my Kinect thinking I want to watch TV? Having that go away sooner might make a huge difference.
...but make voice commands more lenient
Why can't both work? This is supposed to be such a big aspect of the Xbox One, and it needs to work all the time, flawlessly, without needing everyone to remember hyper-specific commands. With more accurate voice commands, people will actually want to talk to their Xbox Ones. As it stands, after a few unrecognized shouts of Xbox, on. Xbox, ON. XBOX, ONNNNNN! most of us will give up and reach for the controller.
Make it easier to organize downloaded and installed games
There arent a whole lot of games to organize at the moment, to be fair, but once our library of installs, downloads, and apps starts building up, we need a good way to access them. Give us some options to we can organize our libraries to our preferences. Some of us prefer alphabetical order, others like to sort by genre, and being able to separate downloadable and full retail titles easily would also be a plus. Folders, people! Let us make folders! Whatever it is, dont force us to scroll through dozens of games every time were looking for something to play.
Improve app snapping
We need some kind of indicator of whether or not apps are snappable, so we dont waste time trying to figure out why some apps work while others wont do what we want. And as for the un-snappable apps, a more intuitive way to open them in-game would make us feel like were not missing anything by not having them displayed on the side of our games. We want to get more use out of this neat feature, and Microsoft just needs to tweak it a bit to increase its functionality.
Add in HDMI passthrough
Honestly, we're all a bit surprised at how much we use our Xbox Ones on a daily basis, though it's not for games. The HDMI input and TV functionality, albeit imperfect (which we'll get to later), are fantastic, and we've grown to love the ability to say, "Xbox, watch Cartoon Network" instead of grabbing a remote. But not everyone is cool with the idea that the Xbox always needs to be on in order to utilize things coming through the HDMI input, and it'd be great if it wasn't absolutely necessary to turn on the Xbox every time we want to watch a new episode of Steven Universe.
Usually, things that have an HDMI input and HDMI output allow for HDMI passthrough, and that'd be the best possible solution for the Xbox One. The other easy option is just never turning off the Xbox One, which would be fine if not for fears of the system overheating--and, let's be honest, those fears are likely well-founded.
Add DVR integration
Were not going to give up our DVRs and start watching shows as they air, so wed love to see DVR support for the Xbox One in the near future. Its be great to go straight from a game to watching last nights Scandal and back again without fumbling around for another remote. It may seem small, but every time were taken out of the Xbox experience to marathon those Chopped episodes we recorded, were reminded that the Xbox One isnt quite the all-encompassing device it promised to be.
Ditch the $10 charge to change a Gamertag
Just let us change our Gamertags for free, when we please, just like we can with Facebook names, Twitter handles, and most other social media accounts. Sure, xxK1LL4R420xx seemed edgy in 2005, but that was along ago. We were, like, twelve (or in our twenties, but whos counting). Ditch the fees and let us change our stupid Gamertags to something a little less stupid. Or a little more stupid, if thats what were into.
Pull the trigger on "real name" support
Wed love to see this feature make it onto the Xbox One, regardless of whether or not Microsoft ever ditches the $10 name-change fee. This was actually supposed to happen already, but Microsoft revealed last month that real names wouldnt make the launch. We hope it happens soon; with friends lists increasing thanks to the removal of the 100-friend cap, its going to be harder than ever to keep track of high school friends, work colleagues, and random online acquaintances.
Fix the Friends and Party systems
The Xbox One's Party and Friends systems are hilariously insufficient, which, you know, is fucking shocking considering how well they both worked last-gen. But in the process of revamping the UI, something happened and now we need to launch multiple different applications within the system in order to complete the most basic of tasks.
This will supposedly be fixed within the next few weeks, and... man, we're really hoping the solution is a good one. After experiencing exactly how poorly these features worked during the Titanfall beta we're really not looking forward to having to stumble through them when the game actually releases.
Improve gesture-based controls for UI
The Kinect has an incredibly high-quality camera in it capable of reading your freaking pulse, and yet, despite that, we're only really using it for the voice commands. It's time for Microsoft to help improve the gesture-based controls, since they have the potential to change the way we interact with our system--again.
One way? How about letting us wave to the camera to tell the system to "Stop listening." Seriously, needing to say "Stop listening" over and over again is ridiculous, and half the conversations we have with friends over Xbox Live are spent saying "Stop listening." Let us wave that stuff away, and improve the way we interact with the system by letting us easily navigate with our hands.
Give us a more compelling reason to use Kinect
Compelling Kinect games for the Xbox One would be a great start. Harmonixs Fantasia looks promising, and D4 should be interesting, but... that's about it on the games front. Sure, Kinect Sports Rivals shows off the Kinects abilities, but isnt exactly a must-play. Give us that killer app for the Kinect and well never doubt its necessity again. You charged us an extra $100 for it, for crying out loud.
Lower the price on the Play and Charge Kit
The console is $500. The games are $60. Extra controllers are another $60. As of now, Play and Charge kits are sold separately for $25, even though it's the status quo for the competition. Rechargeable batteries should just be a given. There are few things more aggravating then getting a low battery warning in the middle of a Deathmatch and tearing open every electronic device in the house trying to find more batteries. Maybe we expected it last generation, but now we want better.
Add external hard drive support
Sure, we can delete and reinstall games, but thats a pain. We need some sort of hard drive solution, like external hard drive support, even if it comes in the form of proprietary hard drives like the Xbox 360s. Eventually isnt going to cut it when we amass hundreds of gigs worth of game installs and saves within a few months of buying the system.