Microsoft has been very forthcoming when it comes to its new console, the Xbox Series X. Apart from a firm release date and that all-important price tag, we know practically everything we could hope to at this stage, from the dimensions of the console itself, to the powerful innards inside – and so far things are looking promising.
With that being said, however, there are still a couple of features that we don’t know about. We haven’t seen the Xbox dashboard, and we don’t know if the Xbox Series X will suffer from some of the same frustrations we had to endure with the Xbox One.
So what does Microsoft need to change? Here are five things the Xbox Series X must improve over the Xbox One.
1. Faster install times when using a disc
While many gamers are transitioning away from buying physical copies and opting for digital downloads instead, there’s still a lot to be said about owning a disc of your favorite game. For one, it’s nice to collect things, and secondly, you can trade it in to recoup some of your costs to put towards a newer purchase.
It’s a pain, then, that the Xbox One is so horribly slow at installing games from disc. When compared to the PS4, the situation is even worse, as Sony’s machine regularly bests Xbox One install times with minutes to spare. In a world where waiting isn’t tolerated, Microsoft must do better with the Xbox Series X.
2. A more intuitive dashboard
The Xbox One dashboard has had more comebacks than UFC’s serial-retiree Conor McGregor at this point. From its original Metro design, to the dashboard we have today, there’s no doubt that Microsoft has been trying hard to get it right, but ultimately it’s still too confusing for most users.
Personally, I like the depth and granularity that the Xbox One dashboard provides, but I understand that for new users it must be a really daunting proposition, especially when faced with so many tiles, menus and separate apps. There’s no denying that the Xbox One dashboard has gotten better, though, but it’s still not quite there.
3. A competitive launch price
Awful mixed messaging aside, the Xbox One was always going to struggle against Sony’s PS4 for one simple reason: it was too expensive. With the Kinect camera bundled in, Sony was able to undercut the Xbox One by a whopping £75 in the UK. Eventually, Microsoft managed to bring the Xbox One price down by discontinuing Kinect, but unfortunately the damage was already done.
For the Xbox Series X, it’s crucial that the company doesn’t come across as a luxury purchase compared to its nearest rival, then. It will be interesting to see whether Microsoft dips into some of its huge cash reserves to price-match the PS5, even if that means taking a bigger loss. After all, Microsoft has already said it’s more focused on gaining new Xbox Game Pass subscribers than selling consoles these days.
4. More blockbuster exclusives
Perhaps the biggest question mark over the Xbox Series X right now is will it deliver the type of blockbuster experiences PlayStation fans have been enjoying on PS4. It’s fair to say that the majority of exclusives on Xbox have missed the mark, although there has certainly been a refreshing amount of variety when it comes to Xbox One games.
Franchises such as Halo, Gears of War and Forza Motorsport have also lost some of their appeal, although the draw of playing Halo Infinite at launch is still a strong pull for many. Microsoft has snapped up countless new studios in the last year or so, such as Ninja Theory, Double Fine and Obsidian, but we’ll have to see whether those studios can deliver the types of rich, story-driven experiences that Sony has in spades.
5. More games need to use FastStart
With Xbox Game Pass spearheading everything that’s good about Xbox right now, Microsoft has to ensure it’s as accessible and appealing as possible. The company introduced a new patented technology called FastStart last year, which promises to let you get into a game you’re downloading in half the time.
The technology uses crowd-sourced data to identify the parts of the game you’re most likely to need, and then focuses on downloading those parts first. It means that you’ll be waiting less and playing more, which is exactly what we want to hear. FastStart currently supports 118 games as of writing, but the quicker it becomes the standard for all digital downloads on Xbox Series X, the better.