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Everything you need to know about Xbox One

Trying to choose the right gaming console for you and your family? You'll find everything you need to know about Microsoft's Xbox One console right here.

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What is The Xbox One?

Despite its name, The Xbox One is the third machine from Microsoft following the Xbox (2001), and the Xbox 360 (2005).

The term "One" was chosen as Microsoft believed it to define the console as being your "one" entertainment solution, providing film, music, internet, apps and other multimedia features beyond simply gaming.

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The console began rolling out globally from November 22, 2013, and as of its second birthday there were 450 games available for the Xbox One, although this figure includes 104 backwards compatible titles.

Despite initial plans to make it mandatory, the Xbox One does not require an internet connection to work. However a number of the smaller titles available for the console are only downloadable through the Xbox Store.

An important new feature on the Xbox One - which wasn't present on the Xbox 360 - is a Blu-ray drive. The Blu-ray drive allows the console to run bigger games from a single disc as well as playing DVDs and Blu-ray films.

What are the Xbox One's main competitors?

The Xbox One's direct competitor is the Sony PlayStation 4.

Outside of exclusives made, primarily, by first-party developers (studios that work for the manufacturer), both systems tend to get the same library of games at the same time.

The PC is also a competitor but is generally played from a desk rather than a couch or beanbag, which makes for a different kind of experience. The PC also tends to receive many of the games later than the PS4 and Xbox One – often months later.

The Nintendo Wii U is another key player in the console space. However its limited hardware power, focus on Nintendo's own exclusive games over large third party brands (Call of Duty, Assassin's Creed, Grand Theft Auto, etc.), and targeting of the family demographic sees it considered by many to be running its own race.

What Type of Games are Available on the Xbox One?

The Xbox One's catalogue 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, with a number of key titles not offering offline multiplayer at all. Many developers argue that they can create a better visual experience and faster frame-rate (which improves the feel of gameplay) by not opting for split-screen multiplayer.

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

In its favour, however, is the Kinect device, currently the best motion and voice control device in gaming. Also in the plus column, Microsoft provides dedicated servers to provide more reliable online play. If you’re especially keen the Xbox One Elite Controller (sold separately to the console itself) is widely considered to be the best controller in gaming history.

What are the Unique Features of the Xbox One

Unlike previous console generations, in raw power, the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 consoles are more-or-less like for like.
Instead the consoles mainly differentiate themselves through their catalogue of available games and user features. 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 in to your profile and voice commands.
  • The Xbox One has pass-through capabilities for TV viewing. This feature allows you to run a service like Foxtel through your Xbox One to your TV, which means you can switch between gaming and viewing in an instant.
  • The Xbox "snap" feature allows you to have more than one viewable screen open on your Xbox One simultaneously. You can be playing a game in one window, while having a website open, or a Skype call, or Twitch stream, or even Live TV, playing in the other.
  • The November 2015 dashboard update brought backwards compatibility to the Xbox One. This allows you to play selected Xbox 360 games on your Xbox One. Not all titles from the existing Xbox 360 library work, with 104 available at launch and more rolling out over time.
  • Xbox provides Skype call integration.
  • You can play an Xbox One on a PC or laptop that is running Windows 10. The Xbox App for PC connects to your Xbox One and streams the content across 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?

Here are some of the biggest brands to 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 WakeZoo Tycoon
Dead RisingRise of the Tomb RaiderDance CentralCondemned
Too HumanOri and The Blind Forest

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 strictly required, an internet connection is recommended. You want as low a ping as possible (definitely 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 definitely 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 just under 400GB of useable space, and every game must be installed to play.

Games frequently require between 20 and 50GB of space, so after 10 games you will need to begin deleting old-favourites to make space, which isn't particularly user-friendly. Any USB 3.0 external hard-drive can function as a storage extender, but be mindful that some hard-drives require their own power supply, which can be tricky to find plug space for once everything is plugged in behind your TV.

The newer model Xbox One comes with a 1TB internal hard-drive - for the reasons listed above, this is a significantly better option if it is available to you.

Xbox One Buyer's Guide

There are a number of different versions of the Xbox One console available (termed SKUs), 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 will also make their own bundles that include different games to sweeten the deal.

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

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 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, and while there are some notable games available for younger players such as Minecraft, Viva Piñata, the Lego series, the Rayman series and Screamride, more consistently it delivers on mature content for those aged 15 and above.

For children under 10 we recommend the Wii U, and for those aged 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
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
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
Velocity 2X842015
Halo 5: Guardians842015
Rare Replay842015
Madden NFL 16842015
FIFA 16842015
Metro Redux842014
Rogue Legacy842015
SteamWorld Dig832015
Call of Duty: Black Ops III832015
Castle Crashers Remastered832015
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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