Xbox One: top features you probably hadn't noticed

In all the sound and fury that greeted the launch of the Xbox One, here are a few features you may have missed.

Nic Healey Senior Editor / Australia
Nic Healey is a Senior Editor with CNET, based in the Australia office. His passions include bourbon, video games and boring strangers with photos of his cat.
Nic Healey
3 min read

So, it's official: Microsoft has dropped some of the more hated DRM requirements on the Xbox One.

(Credit: James Martin/CNET)

It's a move that's made people happy — no need for a daily internet check-in, no more region coding, no more restrictions on used games.

But, as we've reported, it's come at a cost. Microsoft has now removed the portable games library feature, as well as the digital sharing. Arguably, these were the two most novel of the next-gen features in the console.

But there are still a few solid features on the Xbox One that got a little lost in all the noise about the DRM.

(Credit: James Martin/CNET)

Wi-Fi Direct-based controller

The Xbox One controller has extra "rumble", with a new vibration mechanic set beneath the triggers. In conjunction with the rumble motors lower down in the controller, it opens new options for feedback. Josh Lowensohn from CNET in the US got hands on with the controller and found the extra feedback "pleasing".

The controller also connects to the Xbox One via Wi-Fi Direct, rather than Bluetooth. This method opens up a theoretical throughput of 250Mbps compared to Bluetooth's 3Mbps. We'll need to see what Microsoft does with this extra bandwidth, but it certainly creates some options regarding controller add-ons and voice chat.

Upgraded, heartbeat-tracking Kinect

Poor old Kinect will now ship with the Xbox One as a default, not an additional accessory — it's part of why the Xbox One costs more than the PS4, according to Microsoft.

The Kinect will have a host of new voice and motion commands, and people with privacy concerns can rest assured that Microsoft has confirmed that Kinect can be turned off and won't always be watching and listening like a Telescreen from 1984.

More importantly, Kinect has been greatly upgraded. It captures 1080p video at 30fps. It can recognise faces, a greater range of movement and even detect changes in the way you balance and your heartbeat.

Combined with the controller, it tracks the movement of the controller and can detect who's using which controller in terms of co-op or split-screen gaming.

(Credit: James Martin/CNET)

Cloud DVR and game processing services

While we've lost some of the cloud features, it's assumed that the enhancement to Xbox Live's game matching as well as the cloud-based game DVR functions for recording, sharing and editing gameplay moments are still present.

The same goes for cloud-based processing. Yes, you'll need to be connected to the net, but as Microsoft Australia's Jeremy Hinton told us back in March, this feature means that "for every Xbox One in a lounge room, you have the processing power of three more available in the cloud".

Exclusive games

Dead Rising 3, Ryse: Son of Rome, Killer Instinct, Quantum Break, Titanfall and Forza 5. These are just some of the titles that will be exclusive to the Xbox One.

Further — and a big draw for dedicated Call of Duty fans — DLC for COD: Ghosts will debut first on the Xbox One.

Finally, surprising no one but delighting many, there's a new Halo title on the way.

Or make your own games

Project Spark deserves a special mention: it's a "game" that lets you actually build your own casual games.

Microsoft certainly had some hiccups with the launch of the Xbox One. But now that it has, for better or for worse, removed the most hated component, it's a good time for everyone to calm down and take another look at what Microsoft is really offering us.