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Xbox One review and buying guide

See if this popular gaming console is the right pick for you.

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What is Xbox One?

Despite its name, Xbox One is the third machine from Microsoft, following Xbox (2001) and Xbox 360 (2005). Microsoft chose the name “One” as a way to define the console as your “one” entertainment solution, as it provides film, music, Internet, apps and other multimedia features beyond gaming.

The console began rolling out globally in November 2013 and now includes hundreds of both new and backwards-compatible games.

Despite initial plans to make it mandatory, the Xbox One does not require an Internet connection. But a number of the smaller titles available for the console are only downloadable through the Xbox Games Store. An important feature on the Xbox One which wasn’t present on the Xbox 360 is a Blu-ray drive, allowing the console to run bigger games from a single disc, as well as play DVDs and Blu-ray films.

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What are the Xbox One’s main competitors?

The Xbox One’s direct competitor is Sony PlayStation. Outside of exclusives made by first-party developers studios that work for the manufacturer both systems tend to simultaneously receive the same library of games.

The PC is also a competitor but is generally played from a desk rather than a couch or beanbag, making for a different gaming experience. PCs also tend to receive many of the games months later than the Playstation and Xbox consoles and Xbox One.

The Nintendo Switch is a relative newcomer in the console space, having been released in 2017. Its claim to fame is the ability to switch from at-home and on-the-go gaming.

What type of games are available on Xbox One?

Xbox One’s catalog of games is primarily targeted at adult males, with a heavy emphasis on racing, sports, action, RPGs and shooters. There is also a focus on online play, as many key titles don’t offer offline multiplayer at all. Many developers argue that they can create a better visual experience and faster frame-rate by not opting for split-screen multiplayer.

In comparison to its main rival, PS4, Xbox One offers less game variety, fewer exclusives from Xbox-owned or affiliated developers and fewer downloadable titles from independent developers.

However, in its favor is the Kinect device, currently the best motion- and voice-control device in gaming. Microsoft also provides dedicated servers for more reliable online play. Finally, the Xbox One Elite Controller — which is sold separately from the console — is widely considered to be the best controller in gaming history.

What are the unique features of the Xbox One?

Here are the most notable breakaway features of the Xbox One:

  • The Kinect device allows for hands-free, motion-controlled gaming, face recognition for signing into your profile and voice commands.
  • The Xbox One has pass-through capabilities for TV viewing, allowing you to run a service like Foxtel through your console to your TV so you can switch between gaming and viewing in an instant.
  • The “snap” feature lets you have more than one viewable screen open on your Xbox One simultaneously.
  • Backwards compatibility allows you to play select Xbox 360 games on your Xbox One.
  • Skype call integration lets you have a background Skype chat while you’re using the console.
  • You can play Xbox One on a PC or laptop with Windows 10. The Xbox app for PC connects to your Xbox One and streams the content over your Wi-Fi network. It’s called Remote Play, and you can connect an Xbox One controller to your PC so you can play your games as you normally would.

What are the best Xbox One exclusive game series?

These are some of the biggest brands that appear only on the Xbox One:

Forza MotorsportGears of WarPerfect DarkRe:Core
HaloFableProject SparkRyse
CrackdownDance CentralSea of ThievesSunset Overdrive
Quantum BreakKiller InstinctScaleboundTitanfall
Viva PiñataBanjo-KazooieAlan Wake
Dead RisingRise of the Tomb RaiderZoo Tycoon
Too HumanOri and The Blind ForestCondemned

What is the ideal gaming setup for an Xbox One?

The Xbox One is a high-performance console and should be paired with a large Full HD or 4K flatscreen TV. To make the most of the experience, a 7.1 channel sound system or headset is recommended.

While not required, an Internet connection is recommended. You want as low a ping as possible (less than 40ms), and if you plan to buy a lot of large games online or stream your play through services like Twitch, you will benefit from a fast Internet speed. You will need a significant download quota, too, as large patches, game purchases and downloadable content can take upwards of 100GB per month.

You may also need to invest in an external hard-drive around one year into the console’s lifespan. The internal hard-drive on the core model is limited to slightly under 400GB of useable space, and every game must be installed to play.

Games frequently require between 20 and 50GB of space, so you will need to begin deleting old favorites to make space after 10 games, which isn’t particularly user-friendly. Any USB 3.0 external hard-drive can function as a storage extender, but keep in mind that some hard-drives require their own power supply.

The newer model Xbox One comes with a 1TB internal hard-drive. For the reasons listed above, this is a better option if it’s available.

Xbox One buying guide

There are a number of versions of the Xbox One console available, each iterating on the last to get closer to meeting the market’s demands, but also to enhance the device as technology improves.

Originally, you had to have a Kinect device connected to the Xbox One for it to work, but that limitation has since been removed. When shopping for any new console, compare the various retailers for bundle offers. While there are occasionally official, themed spin-offs to the console, retailers also build their own bundles that include different games to sweeten the deal.

Here are the core differences between the retail Xbox One SKUs:

ModelFeatures
Xbox One 500GBThe stock standard console
Xbox One 500GB with KinectThe stock standard console with the Kinect device
Xbox One 1TBDouble the internal hard-drive space, a matte finish and improved Xbox One controller with headphone jack.
Xbox One 1TB Elite BundleComes with a solid state hybrid drive for faster installs and game loads and an Elite Controller
Xbox One 1TB Console – Halo 5: Guardians Limited Edition BundleEverything included in the 1TB model with a Halo 5: Guardians-themed casing
Xbox One 1TB Console – Forza 6 Limited Edition BundleEverything included in the 1TB model with a Forza 6-themed casing

Is the Xbox One good for kids?

The Xbox One isn’t aimed at a young demographic. While there are some notable games available for younger players such as Minecraft, Viva Piñata, the Lego series, the Rayman series and Screamride, Xbox is better known for games with mature content intended for ages 15 and up.

For children under 10, we recommend the Nintento Switch. For ages 10 to 15, we recommend the PlayStation 4, which has a wider variety of crossover games for kids entering their teenage years.

What are the best-selling games on Xbox One?

RankGameYearGenrePublisherGlobal Sales Millions
1Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare2014ShooterActivision4.73
2Grand Theft Auto V2014ActionTake-Two Interactive3.35
3Assassin’s Creed: Unity2014ActionUbisoft3.06
4Destiny2014ShooterActivision3
5Titanfall2014ShooterElectronic Arts2.7
6Call of Duty: Black Ops 32015ShooterActivision2.67
7Halo: The Master Chief Collection2014ShooterMicrosoft Game Studios2.66
8Call of Duty: Ghosts2013ShooterActivision2.6
9Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag2013ActionUbisoft2.11
10Forza Motorsport 52013RacingMicrosoft Game Studios2.04
11FIFA 152014SportsElectronic Arts1.99
12Battlefield 42013ShooterElectronic Arts1.8
13Halo 5: Guardians2015ShooterMicrosoft Game Studios1.77
14FIFA 162015SportsElectronic Arts1.49
15NBA 2K152014SportsTake-Two Interactive1.47
16Dead Rising 32013ActionMicrosoft Game Studios1.41
17Watch Dogs2014ActionUbisoft1.4
18Madden NFL 152014SportsElectronic Arts1.37
19Minecraft2014MiscMicrosoft Game Studios1.32
20Far Cry 42014ShooterUbisoft1.29
21Fallout 42015Role-PlayingBethesda Softworks1.27
22Ryse: Son of Rome2013ActionMicrosoft Game Studios1.24
23FIFA 142013SportsElectronic Arts1.15
24Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor2014ActionWarner Bros. Interactive Entertainment1.1
25Forza Horizon 22014RacingMicrosoft Game Studios1.08
26Madden NFL 162015SportsElectronic Arts1.04
27Batman: Arkham Knight2015ActionWarner Bros. Interactive Entertainment1.03
28Battlefield: Hardline2015ShooterElectronic Arts1
29Mortal Kombat X2015FightingWarner Bros. Interactive Entertainment0.95
30The Elder Scrolls Online2015Role-PlayingBethesda Softworks0.93
31Sunset Overdrive2014ShooterMicrosoft Game Studios0.87
32NBA 2K162015SportsTake-Two Interactive0.87
33The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt2015Role-PlayingNamco Bandai Games0.84
34NBA 2K142013SportsTake-Two Interactive0.8
35LEGO Marvel Super Heroes2013ActionWarner Bros. Interactive Entertainment0.76
36Dragon Age: Inquisition2014Role-PlayingElectronic Arts0.74
37Madden NFL 252013SportsElectronic Arts0.71
38Need for Speed Rivals2013RacingElectronic Arts0.59
39The Evil Within2014ActionBethesda Softworks0.57
40Wolfenstein: The New Order2014ShooterBethesda Softworks0.57
41Forza Motorsport 62015RacingUnknown0.55
42Dying Light2015ActionWarner Bros. Interactive Entertainment0.53
43Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare2014ShooterElectronic Arts0.49
44Gears of War: Ultimate Edition2015ShooterMicrosoft Game Studios0.48
45WWE 2K152014SportsTake-Two Interactive0.48
46The Crew2014RacingUbisoft0.47
47Destiny: The Taken King2015ShooterActivision0.46
48Kinect Sports Rivals2014SportsMicrosoft Game Studios0.45
49Diablo III2014Role-PlayingActivision0.41
50Evolve2015ShooterTake-Two Interactive0.41

What are the most critically-acclaimed games on Xbox One?

GameMetacritic ScoreYear
Grand Theft Auto V972014
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain952015
The Swapper922015
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt912015
Rayman Legends912014
Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition902015
Destiny: The Taken King902015
Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin892015
Game of Thrones: Episode Six – The Ice Dragon892015
FIFA 14882013
Minecraft: Xbox One Edition882014
Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition882014
Ori and the Blind Forest882015
Fallout 4882015
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor872014
Forza Motorsport 6872015
Rise of the Tomb Raider872015
Shovel Knight862015
NBA 2K14862013
DmC: Devil May Cry Definitive Edition862015
NBA 2K16862015
Titanfall862014
Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition862014
Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee – New ‘n’ Tasty862015
Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition862014
Forza Horizon 2862014
Mortal Kombat X862015
Pinball FX 2852014
Killer Instinct Season 2852014
Batman: Arkham Knight852015
Dragon Age: Inquisition852014
Halo: The Master Chief Collection852014
Pro Evolution Soccer 2016852015
LIMBO852014
Velocity 2X842015
Halo 5: Guardians842015
Rare Replay842015
Terraria842014
Madden NFL 16842015
FIFA 16842015
Metro Redux842014
Rogue Legacy842015
SteamWorld Dig832015
Call of Duty: Black Ops III832015
Castle Crashers Remastered832015
Quiplash832015
Gears of War: Ultimate Edition822015
Stealth Inc 2: A Game of Clones822015
Child of Light822014
Forza Horizon 2: Storm Island822014
Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions822014
Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime822015
FIFA 15822014
Tales From The Borderlands: Episode One – Zer0 Sum822014
NBA 2K15822014
Far Cry 4822014
Resident Evil HD Remaster822015
So Many Me822015

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