Is It Finally Time to Upgrade to Xbox One?

xbox oneBuyers Remorse In The Bright Light Of Day

So I’ve had my Xbox One for almost a year now. My wife gifted it to me in mid-September of last year after I bugged her for months that we needed to get one. In retrospect, I was somewhat misguided and completely delusional. I’ll admit that it was in large part my fault because I had been watching the Destiny trailers almost non-stop since they first rolled out and I didn’t want to fall behind on the curve of what was going to define the future of gaming.

I know, delusional.

After that ponderous month of playing Destiny with the not so uncommon thought, “That’s it?” and I realized that pretty much applied to the overall Xbox One experience in those first months. There wasn’t much else to. Sure I could grind in Dead Rising 3 some more, but that was an experience too close to Destiny‘s repetitiveness. I mentioned that right? Destiny is repetitive. So I looked at the available library of games in the Xbox One store and there were a few here and there that I picked up, but nothing that was amazing.  The Games with Gold for those months had some real stinkers until Rayman Legends was an amazing platformer that absorbed and entertained me as I hadn’t been in years. Even my wife loved watching the bright colors almost as much as my daughter. Unfortunately, once beaten I didn’t really feel the need to grind to a million lums (the in-game collectible), half a million had gotten me through to the end just fine.

So there I was at the beginning of the year, wondering why I had so foolishly become an early adopter (albeit a few months late) when I knew that the first year for a console is always a desolate landscape for games. Sure the graphics were better than on my 360, but that really didn’t justify the $400 my wife shelled out for what was just a box without a lot of games, some apps that I could access with the same quality on my 360 or Apple TV, and a lot of potential that was going unrealized.

 

This Is A His & Hers Gift!?

To be honest wife is not really a big gamer. She will play the crap out of Castlevania Symphony of the Night on my old PS2 (thank you backwards compatibilities!) but not much else. She would rather watch me play while she sits at the end of the couch playing on Facebook on her phone. To say the least, she’s tolerant of my worsening gaming obsession, which I’ll get to, but mainly uses our Xbox One to watch TV shows on Hulu and Netflix.

My wife became just as reliant on that sleek black box and its “invasive, All-Seeing Eye,” as she commented during the Kinect’s unboxing. The Kinect it turns out was a lifesaver for us, being two new parents tethered to our couch by our newborn responsibility. We soon found how reliant we became upon the convenience of control that the Kinect provided us while watching Netflix or Hulu and wrangling a newborn at our feet. Sometimes you can’t get to the remote. You’re busying wrestling a six month old for control of your life, your sanity, and that godforsaken remote that being able to shout, “Xbox Pause!” just seems the perfect panacea.

It seems that the main function of the Xbox One in our household has been that of entertainment system with an interface that works better than our other devices. This I think was the initial goal for Microsoft in the development for their next gen console. They wanted to reach the full household with accessibility and that was clearly the company’s focus in its first year.

 

ab07e0d9-8344-4c8d-aa01-550a7265b7f9Good Things Happen for Those Who Wait, Like A Year Tops

Fast forward a few months and suddenly the Xbox One is now all about gaming. Indie games are now releasing with consistency, but more importantly, they have true appeal. These are not the filler games that seemed to flourish in the long months following the Xbox One’s launch. These are games that specifically target next gen platforms for their release. I’ve become elated, but more importantly I’ve become hooked.

While most of the AAA games announced at the launch of the next gens systems were delayed, this year has seen the results of those delays. Batman Arkham Knight being the first of many great titles releasing this year, but it’s not even an exclusive. Upcoming you have Halo 5 Guardians in October and Rise of the Tomb Raider in November. Those two titles alone will last me well into 2016 when I am nervously waiting for Tom Clancy’s The Division to not fall victim of its own hype (again, see Destiny). Now that’s just a few more months to wait, but they appear to be well worth it and in the meantime you play some of the great indie releases out now.

Over the next year, there are a ton of other great ID@Xbox indie games set to release that look amazing, like Ashen, Cuphead, and Below, but more importantly there are some great games that are available right now. Currently I’m in love with The Long Dark, one of the first Xbox One Game Preview titles that became available after it was announced at E3. I played the half hour demo and immediately forked over the cash to keep playing obsessively over the next few nights. It’s a game that makes you wonder in a good way that, “Maybe I could survive a disaster like that…?” Well, probably not, but you still have fun raiding cabins for junk, junk food, and a life-saving box of matches. The Long Dark is definitely a title to look out for, and they haven’t even released the story mode yet — this is the Alpha!

If you’re looking for something with a bit more story, The Fall actually has won some awards for that. You play as the AI to a military space suit that crash lands on a planet and is trapped inside a robot decommissioning plant trying to save your suit’s occupant. The game is part one of a trilogy and while not overly long once you know what you are doing, the exploration and puzzle-solving, mixed with a moody tone reminiscent of Limbo, allow for the player to get caught up in the rich story from the start. I am definitely looking forward to the next two games to see where its deeply questioning story goes.

 

make-it-rain-dollarsStart Saving for the Holidays

Lately, I’ve been feeling more and more like a gamer. I’ve been pretty casual about upping the difficulty on my games from the start since loading up the Xbox One. I used to be fine just beating games on the Normal Difficulty, but there is something about the controller for the Xbox One that instills the confidence to play at even the most Nightmarish difficulties. With the added difficulty, I’m feeling more and more like a little kid again as well. I feel like I’m trying to make impossible jump after impossible jump, while sprinting down narrow corridors, and shooting fireballs from my fingertips.

So I end up gaming a lot now. It’s likely not more than I used to during college, and is probably less, but there is an excitement there that I never had before. The technology of the next gen consoles is part of it, but really I think it’s from the quality of games that are coming out now, both AAA and indie releases. It is like a new Golden Age of Gaming has begun and you just have to sign in to be a part of it.

Now some may point out that a lot of what the Xbox One does, the Playstation 4 can do as well. They have many of the same games and exclusives often only last a few months before releasing on a competitor’s console. I would say that they’re right, but the wholly exclusive games of the PS4 when stacked against the Xbox One appeal to me more. I still haven’t gotten a PS3 to play the exclusive titles that looked amazing, so I can’t even begin to reason how to justify buying a PS4. I don’t have the time or currency to devote to two systems. I guess I’ve been a fan the Halo series since the original Xbox and sometimes you just have to go home with the horse that brought you.