A review of the Xbox One [The Daily Beast] / by Alec Kubas-Meyer

Xbox One

Wherein I am legitimately surprised by how much I like the Xbox One.

E3 2013 was weird. Like, really weird. Nintendo's non-conference was fine; Sony's conference was great; and Microsoft's was... really not. When Giant Bomb reported the policy shift, everyone was shocked because of the hubris the execs had displayed during the show, but it kinda seemed like too-little too-late. I mean, they wanted to take away our used games (or at the very least regulate them). The family sharing thing could have been cool, but we can't know, because nobody explained it. The message was all over the place. So when it came time to actually look at these consoles critically, I was against the Xbox from the start.

But you know what? That thing, when it works, is legitimately amazing. I love my PlayStation 4, but its fundamental operation is less exciting. Only problem is that the whole thing feels like it's not done.

The headline I pitched for the Xbox review was "A beta look at the future of video games," and I stand by that statement (although more like video game consoles, even if Forza 5's Drivatar system is really cool). The first big update for the system is coming soon, theoretically adding stability as well as a couple of other features, and that would be great, because it's not the most stable console in the world.

I got the system about a week and a half before launch so I could really take the time to understand its little quirks. In that time, it underwent no fewer than five big updates and possibly even more. We would get emails telling us when things would finally be unlocking, what was and wasn't working at any given moment, and when the day came, it still didn't feel totally ready. Some things (like the achievements page) are clear step backs, while others (suspended game states) are just totally fantastic. When it all comes together, it's awesome. When they don't, it's extremely frustrating.

I got into a couple of debates with my editor about the focus of this article. To him, the Kinect was the story, because it's creepy and crazy and fascinating; but to me, it was the whole thing. So the headline (over-the-top, as these things tend to be) reflects the Kinect while the text serves as more of a straight review. It was cut down a bit and a little more emphasis was put on the Kinect, however. And I can understand why, because that thing has made one of my friends flee from the room when she saw that it could see in the dark.

I'm looking forward to the Xbox One in two years, when the kinks have been basically worked out and it's the system it should have been on launch day. There will almost certainly be a solid game library backing it up, and it'll be a (nay, the) machine to own. But it's not there yet.

I went in truly ready to hate the system, but Microsoft showed me you can't judge a book by its press conference. Even so, we'll see if lessons have been learned by June 10, when E3 2014 kicks off.