Following its November 22nd launch, I've been thoroughly enjoying the Xbox One as both a console and an entertainment centre. A seriously solid launch lineup, alongside a surprising degree of convenience and downright fun provided by Kinect, makes it a seriously nifty bit of living room kit I'm thrilled to own.
But it's not finished yet. "A fairly strong start, but one that needs to be built upon and soon," I wrote in our full Xbox One review.
The Xbox One is very much a work in progress, with numerous features either missing or in need of serious improvement. Various aspects of the interface and user experience require ironing out in swift patches - to the extent where the community have rallied around a new feedback site to voice their constructive criticism. Microsoft is apparently taking this feedback to heart, and hopefully plan to use their much-vaunted cloud service to deliver some quick updates in the very near future.
So with both references to our exhaustive hardware review and Xboxfeedback.com, it's time to discuss what we want from the first few rounds of patches, and partake in some constructive criticism of our own.
10: Controller Battery Indicator
The Xbox One controller can squeeze an enormous amount of active play time out of a single set of Duracells, thanks in part to Kinect's effortless power-saving mode. But on the flip-side, there's no way to tell how much juice you have left short of digging out a battery tester.
Just... why? Come on, this is pretty basic stuff. While you're at it, Microsoft, cloud-based thumbstick inversion settings might be a good idea.
9: More Avatar Items, Options & Rewards
It's clear that Rare have their hands full with Kinect Sports Rivals, since the Avatar system features no improvements, extra features or even additional outfits at launch. Can we, erm, have some please?
Mewling for more content aside, though, Avatar rewards are being under-utilised at present. Day One achievements ought to unlock a T-shirt to wear with pride, for example, while temporary challenges could grant players nifty new gear to show off to their mates - which will in turn make earning them even more addictive.
8: European OneGuide & HDMI Passthrough
Xbox One is the Lounge Commander, acting as an all-in-one entertainment hub that sits between your set top box and telly. Except that it isn't really "all in one" in Europe. Shockingly the intelligent OneGuide browser isn't available here yet, even for major providers like Sky, meaning that there's little or no advantage to watching TV on Xbox One save showing off the "Xbox, watch TV" command to your folks.
Worse, even though the setup resembles the old VCR signal passthrough, Xbox One has to be fully active in order to watch television through it. Constantly adding to your electricity bill. We're not entirely sure why the signal can't be piped through unaltered while the system is in standby mode.
UPDATE: As a final and equally important fix, regular reader ODB reminds us that many European users are experiencing stuttering and dropped frames due to our legacy 50Hz broadcasting standard compared to the Xbox One's native 60Hz output, and the workaround is embarrassingly primitive. Simply put: the Xbox One can take perfectly TV and ruins it depending on your provider and specific TV set. This is not good enough - and Microsoft will need to assure us that we Eurotrash are anything less than second class citizens.
7: Recent Players & Parties
Let's cut the pretence: the current party and party chat system is a mess. It needs to be more convenient and easier to operate. NOW.
Also, the absence of a "recent players" tab seems a little backwards. On the Xbox 360, we were able to browse a convenient list of players we'd recently encountered to either make new friends or report abuse, since we frequently don't have time to take care of business in-game. Bring this back please.
6: Shorter Install Times
We don't know whether this something that can be patched out or a drawback of the hardware, but we criticised the Xbox One's lengthy install times for disc-based software, and the UK release of the PS4 puts it in greater perspective. Whereas most PS4 games are playable within a minute of starting the installation procedure, Xbox One games require several minutes even if installed offline, leading to some annoying periods of thumb-twiddling when we'd rather be playing.
It's doubly aggravating since most Xbox One launch titles still exhibit long loading screens. Come on next-gen games: earn your hard drive space.
5: Let Us Stream Our Stuff, Dammit
This one's a personal gripe, but it's really starting to bug me. The sheer hubris of marketing a console as an "all in one" entertainment solution, then not allowing you to use it as a Windows Media Centre Extender to browse and stream your existing content is unbelievable - especially when the Xbox 360 and even PS3 pack this functionality as standard. We took it for granted. We take it for granted. PlayTo is not enough.
The lack of streaming client support is equally annoying on PS4, of course, but then again Sony didn't market their console as a media device.
4: Xbox Guide?
As we explicitly stated in the review, Xbox One's Metro interface is a scattershot mess of standalone apps. It has to be in order to facilitate convenient multi-tasking, but on the flipside, the menus are inconvenient and unintuitive to navigate using a controller - especially since games and apps are lumped into a single cluttered menu.
So many players suggest that Xbox One should bring back the Xbox Guide - something like the Xbox 360's blade system that provides a handy always-accessible menu with useful shortcuts, regardless of what game or app you're running. A cohesive, all-in-one way of making sense of the Xbox One's OS.
Personally, though, I'm not entirely sure that it's necessary since Kinect lets us instantly access anything on the system with voice commands, removing the need to interface with the interface altogether. Well... for me, at least. Which brings us on to:
3: Kinect Fine-Tuning
I've said it before and I'll say it again: Kinect is magnificent. It really does enhance the console user experience in practical, intuitive and flat-out magical ways, and more than earns its extra expense.
But as a mandatory part of the ecosystem that demands a sizeable amount of shelf space, Kinect still needs to be better. If Microsoft are serious about putting Kinect into every lounge, it needs to work every time, for everyone. This might sound like an unreasonable request and a big ask, but it's the simple fact of the matter.
So we need better support for regional accents, a learning/training suite to improve user-specific accuracy and more tweaks to ensure that voice commands are followed to the letter. Every time we say "Xbox On" and nothing happens, we fall just a little bit out of love with the system - even if we love it to bits.
2: Hard Drive Management
Xbox One is totally inscrutable when it comes to your hard drive space and memory allocation. "Don't worry about it," the shiny obsidian monolith seems to say. "I'll sort it." There's currently no way to see how much hard drive space remains, which will be a key concern once we own a dozen games vying for disc space. Another basic issue that should have been caught in the earliest testing stages.
This is apparently one of Microsoft's highest priorities for the first round of patching, but USB support for various media types will also be much-appreciated.
1: More Convenient Voice Shortcuts
Back to Kinect again. Microsoft's retooled sensor is handily my favourite thing about Xbox One by a country mile, but there's no denying that the excellent voice commands still face some irritating workflow issues. Little things, minor things, but they all pile up when you use them every day.
Having to say the full name of a game is a constant annoyance. "Xbox, goto Forza 5." "Xbox, goto Forza 5." "Xbox, goto Forza... Motorsport... 5. You arse." And don't even get me started on having to say "goto" in the first place when saying "Xbox, play Forza 5" or just "Xbox, Forza 5" should be enough. Every command should have several alternatives that let us stray from the script.
Some menus and commands don't support voice commands at all, such as the settings screen and ejecting discs. Microsoft also needs to clarify exactly what we need to say when Kinect is in active listening mode. Sometimes we don't have to say "Xbox." Sometimes we do. For reasons.
Don't get me wrong, Kinect still works perfectly for me the overwhelming majority of the time, and fits into my existing gaming regimen superbly. But it all comes back to the fact that Kinect is mandatory, sizeable and needs to unequivocally earn its place in the living room for all consumers. It doesn't just need to be brilliant: it needs to be bulletproof.
Despite a successful and enjoyable launch overall, Microsoft certainly has their work cut out over the coming weeks. What do you want from Xbox One?