The Blog

The XBox One as the Best Gaming Platform?

By Chris Tankersley

I will be honest - I've never been a big XBox or Microsoft fanboy. I never owned an original XBox, nor never really felt like I needed to. I only got an XBox 360 because the vast majority of my local friends played on the XBox 360 instead of the PlayStation 3. I did get a bit obsessed with Forza 5, so when Forza 6 was announced I did decide to get an XBox One.

Neither my 360 nor my XBox One really never did much for me. With the PlayStation 4, I was much happier. I could remote play through my Vita, and it seemed like the console exclusives were just better on team Sony. Hell, I'm sitting here right now writing this while wearing a PlayStation shirt. Nothing on the XBox One said, "This is the console of this generation."

With this generation my XBox One has just kind of been there, sitting in the basement plugged into the TV down there. I played my Wii U way more than I did the XBox One. My kids even play the 360 the most, swapping between Minecraft and Terraria despite owning both of those games on the PS4 and the XBox one. I am not even going to go into how much I have played my Nintendo Switch, which I am willing to say is perhaps the most fun system of this generation.

The weather has been getting nicer and my youngest son has been playing with his RC cars, so I decided I wanted to play Forza again. I decided to bring the XBox One back upstairs since I have not been playing the Wii U for a while. With a quick flip-flop of cables (and a bit of a wait while the newest OS updated on the XBox One), I was all set to play.

I was pleasantly surprised when I went into "Games and Apps" and it said that I had 50 games that were ready to install. Now, I am not a big digital download person so I was intrigued. I popped into there and was greeted with a bunch of the Games for Gold games I had collected for the 360. I had completely forgotten that I had them since I mostly just hoarded them, and I had canceled my XBox Live over a year ago.

I had completely forgotten about the big push that the XBox One has been doing when it comes to backward compatibility. In early 2015, Microsoft had announced that they had managed to basically emulate an XBox 360 with essentially no problems on the XBox One. This was an advancement over the 360's backward compatibility with the original XBox, which required each game to have a wrapper. The XBox One would just run a fully emulated 360 under the hood in software, and it worked. It worked well.

Three years later there are over 470 XBox 360 games that have been made available on the platform. In my personal case, a bunch of the Games for Gold games and about half of my physical XBox 360 library. Fallout: New Vegas worked out of the box with all of the DLC, I just had to wait for it to download and install. Of course, I could not find my copy of Fallout 3, but I did still have the copy that came with Fallout 4.

This got me thinking. While The XBox One exclusives do not really catch my eye, there are a ton of older PS2 and PS3 era games that I still enjoy playing. As Microsoft has started to port original XBox games to the backward compatibility platform this opens up a huge library of games for a single console. Gamers needing to replace an aging 360 might benefit from upgrading, and some games are even getting XBox One X enhancements.

The PS4 has no backward compatibility at all and instead wants you to stream older games through PlayStation Now. This is a suboptimal way to play games as the quality and responsiveness are dictated by your bandwidth. I have a good internet connection but there are plenty of times during the evening where multiple TVs in the house are streaming videos. I do not want to have issues just because my kids are watching Netflix and YouTube.

I feel like this will also work well for collectors like me. I can focus on picking up compatible games and put away the XBox 360 (or just move it into the kids' room). I can go to my local game shop and pick up XBox and 360 games for cheap and not rely on digital services. Used games also tend to be cheaper than their digital equivalent, but on the flip-side, I can now digitally purchase a game I cannot find in physical form.

If nothing else, the XBox One is going to become a great way to play older games, even if the current console exclusives are not that exciting to me. I have already gone through and let a bunch of my games install so they are ready when I get around to them. I am already making a list of some used games I want to pick up so that I can play them again, but keep a low number of consoles connected to my main TV.

This generation of consoles has ended up being dominated by niches. The Switch is the best mobile platform and has the Nintendo exclusives. The PlayStation 4 is the king of media and console exclusives for me, but I think the XBox One might now be the winner when it comes to just playing games.