The Xbox One, Microsoft’s third generation home console, has proven quite profitable for the company. It is currently outpacing the Xbox 360 in terms of both hardware and software sales at this respective point in its lifecycle. With the Xbox 360 generally deemed a commercial success, it stands to reason that the Xbox One would be viewed in much the same way. Alas, with the PlayStation 4 dominating the market with a near 2:1 ratio thanks to some early PR victories (and a few other significant factors), the Xbox brand has found itself playing second fiddle this generation. That is a shame because Microsoft has made major strides since the console’s disastrous first year on the market in making the Xbox One a viable competitor to the PS4. The Xbox One is a system that deserves attention and here are 10 reasons why it is worth a purchase, whether it be the standard Xbox One S model or the more powerful Xbox One X.
10. Xbox One X
The most clear advantage of purchasing an Xbox One over a PS4 right now is that Microsoft has the most powerful console on the market. Sony updated their PS4 line in 2016 with the release of the PS4 Pro, a more powerful console that bumped up performance and offered 4K visuals. However, across the board, the Xbox One X is the more powerful console, offering native 4K visuals and an overall performance boost on all Xbox One software, even for games that have not been optimized for the X.
Speaking of optimized games, while the Xbox One may not have as many must-have games in general as the PS4, the fact that Microsoft is offering backwards compatibility (as in, games that have been updated for higher performance on the X) for 300 titles to start with is an improvement over Sony’s haphazard approach to PS4 Pro patches. The other major advantage — and this applies to the Xbox One S as well — is that Xbox supports UHD Blu-ray playback and Dolby Atmos, whereas the PS4 Pro does not. Of course, we’ll have to wait until the Xbox One X has been fully tested in the wild to get a full read on its overall value but in terms of technical capabilities, the Xbox One X has the PS4 Pro soundly beat.
9. Games with Gold
Sony and Microsoft both offer free monthly games as part of their respective PS Plus and Xbox Live online services, so you’re not really losing out on anything by opting for one service over the other besides the specific games being offered each month. Both services have had their share of strong and weak lineups over the years, meaning that if Xbox’s Games with Gold doesn’t have anything you particularly want in say, September, there’s a good chance that October will be the exact opposite and deliver something stellar. While PS Plus does offer more games each month — six in total: two PS4, two PS3, and two PS Vita titles versus two Xbox One and two Xbox 360 games — Games with Gold offers one advantage that people often overlook. Unlike with PS Plus, where letting your subscription lapse means that you can no longer access your library of free PS Plus games, Games with Gold grants you actual ownership over the games you download, meaning that you can keep them even if you are no longer an Xbox Live subscriber. Again, both services are pretty much on par, but Games with Gold has a bit of an edge over PS Plus in terms of being more pro-consumer.
8. Xbox Live
It is no secret that the Xbox brand owes much of its success to its online service Xbox Live. Live charges $60 a year for online access and includes the Games with Gold rewards program. This may be $10 more expensive than what Sony charges for its PS Plus service, but when you look at what each service offers, it’s really quite a steal when considered how much more efficient Xbox Live has proven to be (plus, it’s quite easy to find subscriptions heavily-discounted). Live has been around longer, launching a year before the PlayStation 2 introduced its own online capabilities.
Even then, Sony did not fully flesh out its online network until the PlayStation 3 era and back then it was free, making its flaws more excusable. That extra time has allowed Microsoft to perfect its network, offering superior servers for speed, better security against fraud, and more reliable access. Both servers have their downtime, however, PlayStation typically suffers far longer outages. Even with the improvements Sony has made to PlayStation Network in recent years, Xbox Live, while not perfect, remains at the head of the class.
7. Streaming Xbox to PC
With the Xbox app now included in every build of Windows 10 and available to download for Windows 7 and up, new capabilities have emerged and are easier to use than ever before. One such innovation is the ability to stream Xbox content onto a PC, which is useful if a TV in your house is in use. Now, gamers can play any Xbox One game on their PC with minimal input delay, meaning that titles such as NHL 16 or Sunset Overdrive, which are not available on PC, can now be enjoyed on your desktop. Furthermore, even the simplest laptop can stream Xbox One games no problem, as the computer is not actually running them; the monitor is simply being treated as a remote second screen. It’s a neat feature and quite useful for when other members of the household are using the TV for their non-gaming needs.
6. Streaming PC to Xbox
A computer can also function in reverse, wirelessly streaming your monitor’s display onto the Xbox. This is useful for activities such as showing PowerPoint presentations on a TV, displaying a browser, or simply streaming media. With the use of the wireless display app, there is no longer a need to connect your computer to a secondary display with an HDMI cable. For laptop users or owners of home media computers, this convenience reduces the number of wires and clutter in the living room, which is always a great benefit. This app will appeal to anyone with a PC in a different room than their Xbox. Previously unable to physically move the computer, now the screen can be cast on the Xbox without the use of wires. The uses may be limited but for those interested, the Xbox One is currently the easiest and least expensive way to wirelessly stream a PC onto a TV screen.
5. User Interface
The Xbox One has recieved several major dashboard updates over the course of its lifespan, with the most significant change happening back in 2015 with the integration of Windows 10. This change included many improvements, most notably to the dashboard (the home opening screen of the Xbox). Previously clunky and similar to the PlayStation 4, the Xbox One experience now appears fresh and slick. For starters, the clutter has been removed: The screen now opens to large thumbnails of the user’s most recently used games and apps. To relaunch the last played game, users don’t even need to move the analog stick. With the press of the right thumbstick, a jump is made to the pins section, where users can place their favorite games and apps (the next Xbox update, scheduled to drop in March, will address the ability to move these pins around). In addition, tabs are now arranged to make navigating through the Xbox’s various features much more efficient, with separate areas tabs for things that were more difficult to find before, such as friends lists and the Xbox Store. The new design looks great and is a much more streamlined experience than what the PS4 currently offers.
4. EA Access
An app exclusive to the Xbox, EA Access is a great service that deserves more recognition. For $30 a year, subscribers receive several perks. All new EA games receive free 10 hour trials for gamers to test. Unsure if FIFA 18 is worth the upgrade from last year’s version? You can now test it out for up to 10 hours and decide for yourself. As a bonus, these trials are also made available five days before the game’s release date. Finally, EA Access allows gamers to download full versions of older EA games from“The Vault.” All the major sports titles are also available, although the majority are still the 2015 versions — the latest titles are generally released as the season in question enters the playoffs. With the $30 EA Access app, gamers can receive stuff like Madden for half price even before accounting for the other games in the vault, the early access, or the free trials, which is a pretty good deal if you’re a fan of EA’s stable of franchises.
3. Backwards Compatibility
In 2015, Microsoft earned a ton of goodwill among gamers for its decision to introduce backwards compatibility on Xbox One, allowing select Xbox 360 games to be played on the console. With more games being added to the backwards compatibility list, the entire library will soon become available (at least one can hope). The Xbox 360 boasts a large and diverse lineup of games and they are all very affordable now. For gamers who already have Xbox 360 titles and still want to play them, the Xbox One’s backwards comparability is a boon, as it means that players won’t have to discard their old games (or be forced to keep their 360 hooked up).
While Microsoft is offering this service for free, Sony’s backwards compatibility solution for the PS4 has been less than idea. PS Now, a subscription service that allows users to stream a large number of PS3 titles, is expensive and simply not as consumer-friendly as the Xbox One’s native backwards compatibility. Although it hasn’t made as significant an impact on Xbox One sales as Microsoft may have hoped, backwards comparability is one feature in particular that the Xbox One is simply handling much better than the PS4.
2. The Controller
While coming down largely to personal preference, the Xbox controller is often cited as a sturdier controller with a better build than Sony’s DualShock brand. A major difference is with the placement of the analog sticks. While Sony opts for symmetrical sticks, Microsoft has the right thumbstick slightly lower than the left. Many agree that this is more comfortable for thumbs to rest and causes fewer cramps. While functionally very similar, the Xbox One and PS4 controllers have a few key differences: Microsoft’s gamepad has impulse triggers which allow for rumble and feedback, which is a surprisingly useful feature for shooters or racing games where force feedback can enhance the experience. Sony’s controller has a touch pad and speaker in the middle, which admittedly offer some increased functionality that just isn’t possible on the Xbox One, but they’re not essential by any stretch.
Finally, there’s the battery pack: Sony’s comes with a built-in battery that charges with through USB, while Microsoft does not include a battery. Both options have their benefits and drawbacks, but the Xbox controller narrowly has the edge here simply because it gives you more options; whether you want to use disposable AA batteries or invest in some heavy-duty rechargeable, the Xbox controller gives you the options, whereas once the Dualshock 4 battery dies, the controller is pretty much toast.
Oh and that’s all without factoring in the Xbox Elite Controller, Microsoft’s premium, expensive pad that may very well be the greatest video game controller ever made.
1. Game Selection (No Wait, Hear Us Out)
We’ll admit right off the top that when it comes to first-party software, the PS4 objectively has the superior lineup. Sony is killing it this generation with must-have exclusives. Titles like Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, Bloodborne, Nioh, and Horizon Zero Dawn can only be played on PlayStation and that list is going to get even more stacked in the coming years with games like God of War, Spider-Man, and The Last of Us Part II. In comparison, the Xbox One’s lineup has been looking pretty dire, especially recently as it feels like Microsoft either doesn’t release anything at all or simply churns out new titles in the same tried and true franchises they’ve been sticking to since the Xbox 360 era.
That being said, it’s not like the Xbox One doesn’t have exclusives. While there may not be as many to choose from, there are still some great games you can only get on Xbox One (or PC too if you factor in Xbox Play Anywhere functionality). Say what you will about Halo, Gears of War and Forza, but these are still top tier franchises with dedicated fanbases and you can only find them on Xbox. Additionally, the Xbox One has more than its fair share of second and third-party exclusives, such as Rare Replay (still one of the best bargains in all of gaming), Sunset Overdrive, Dead Rising 4, and Ori and the Blind Forest. Yes, Microsoft is absolutely still playing catch-up when it comes to exclusives and when measured up title for title, the PS4 has the clear advantage in this area, but at the end of the day, the Xbox One still has enough exclusives to justify a purchase, especially if you’re a fan of any of the franchises we mentioned above.