– James Orr
I recently upgraded my PC to Windows 10, with one of the reasons being its compatibility with the Xbox One. Does Windows 10 offer anything new or worthwhile in regards to console gaming? The short answer: yes, but not a whole lot.
Windows 10 comes with the Xbox App installed and ready to launch. The app is everything you’d expect, functioning as a cross-between the Xbox website and the Xbox One’s dashboard. You can message people, shop on the Xbox Store and watch clips that you or your friends have recorded. What’s obviously great about all this is using your keyboard and mouse to navigate; now you don’t have to spend five minutes typing out a twelve word message with your controller. You can also launch your PC games straight from the App, even those installed through Steam (though Steam is still functionally better for that).
The biggest drawcard of the Xbox App is its ability to stream your Xbox One to a Windows 10 device, whether it is a PC or tablet. For the most part, it works well. To stream, all you need is to have an Xbox controller connected to your Xbox One or PC, both platforms are on the same network, and that ‘Allow Play to Streaming’ is enabled in your settings, located under the ‘Preferences’ section.
Microsoft recommends that both your Xbox and Windows 10 device are connected to your router through a wired connection, in order to achieve the fastest and most stable connection possible. But if you’re like me, you won’t have all your devices in the same room. I’ve been testing it through wireless connection, and have experienced a minor but noticeable delay between my controller and the action onscreen. Single-player games like Fallout 4 or The Witcher 3 are still playable, but the input lag makes almost any multiplayer experience a nightmare. Increases on network traffic can severely impact visual quality and framerates. But with a wired connection and higher-end router (my household uses an ISP provided modem/router) it’s possible to negate these issues almost entirely.
If you enjoy recording gameclips or saving screenshots, the Xbox app has you covered… possibly. In order to enable recording, you have to press your ‘Windows key’ + ‘G’ together while streaming. A box will open asking if you want to open ‘Game bar.’
Just confirm that you’re playing a game and then you’ll be able to press ‘Windows key’ + ‘Alt’ + ‘G’ or ‘Windows key’ + ‘Alt’ + ‘R’ to record. However, you will only be able to record clips if you have one of the following videocards:
AMD: AMD Radeon HD 7000 series, HD 7000M series, HD 8000 series, HD 8000M series, R9 series and R7 series.
NVIDIA: GeForce 600 series or later, GeForce 800M series or later, Quadro Kxxx series or later.
Intel: Intel HD graphics 4000 or later, Intel Iris Graphics 5100 or later.
If you don’t, there’s no currently no way to record gameclips while streaming; recording is even disabled on the console while you stream, but you can still take screenshots! That’s something, right? If your PC can handle recording, then the raw files will be saved to your HDD, allowing you to edit them with your own software and not Xbox’s clunky app.
A big issue for me is the party chat system on the app. Your only option is to have both chat and game sound playing through your headset. This is manageable with a stereo headset, but if you’re using the standard Xbox Chat headset, all that sound is going into just one of your ears. There’s no option to split the audio outputs, and every workaround I’ve tried hasn’t worked. The party system is still in beta, so hopefully these kinks will be worked out soon. There is one upside to the app’s party system; you can join Xbox Live parties through the app, without requiring your Xbox One. Now you can chat with your Xbox buddies while you play PC games or type an article!
There a couple of tricks up the Xbox App’s sleeve that may sway you to use it over the console. You can use your PC to play your own background music, no snapped apps required! As there’s no set date for personal background music on Xbox One, this is your only option for jamming while gaming. Another thing that you can only do though streaming is use an Xbox 360 controller to play your Xbox One. So if your one of the people who insists the 360 controller is better, you finally have a solution.
Other than that, Windows 10 streaming won’t replace your standard gaming experience, but it works great as a substitute if someone else wants to use the TV or you want to hide in your room. As such, compatibility between Xbox and Windows is probably not the upgrade on its own, but if you already have Windows 10, the Xbox app can be a useful side feature and is definitely worth a look.