For some reviewers, that wider approach makes the console seem a bit unfocused.
“I admire what Microsoft is trying to do with the Xbox One, and I'm rooting for them to give their console that final push to get it to where it needs to be. The whole thing is almost there,” wrote Kirk Hamilton of Kotaku.
Several reviewers, including Greg Kumparak at TechCrunch, were frustrated by the Kinect and its commands, either because they had to repeat themselves or because they thought the commands weren’t quite natural enough. There are quirks; you have to say “go to” a game rather than ask to “play” it, for example, because the word “play” is coded to deal with video playback.
“The speech recognition does seem better, but not to some insane, mind-blowing degree. Yes, the new Kinect will still mishear you. Yes, you’ll still feel totally stupid when you shout a command at your TV and it ignores you,” Kumparak wrote.
But despite some questions about whether Microsoft has split its focus too much, wrote Jon M. Chang of ABC News, the console still has all the promise of a next-generation gaming device. “It might not be perfect right now, but the new Xbox, like the Xbox 360 introduced seven years ago, is certainly the one to carry Microsoft into the future of the living room.”
The folks at Polygon seemed to have a similar take, saying the “Xbox One is an impressive marriage of software and hardware that raises the bar in terms of what we expect from a living-room machine. Looking forward more than it looks back, the Xbox One feels like it’s from the future.”
And so, with all that said, the question remains: Should you buy it?
It’s a question that’s easier asked than answered. At $499 for the Xbox One and $399 for the PlayStation 4, the consoles represent significant investments for the living room, and if there’s one thing all reviewers agreed upon, it’s that both will improve with age. Generally, it’s going to come down to the games these platforms hold in their respective quivers — and not necessarily the ones out on launch day.