Yesterday saw the release of the new Xbox One X – this console is the world’s most powerful console and of course designed with gamers in mind. But, how family friendly is the new Xbox One X?
When Ben found out I was going to London to visit the Xbox One X Loft, the first thing he said was “Can’t you take me with you? You don’t know anything about Xbox” and he’s not wrong! My Xbox experience thus far extends to many many hours lost watching Dave & Woody playing SSX Tricky or GTA… I don’t know why I never tried to join in, I guess it wasn’t really my thing and it was easier to just sit and watch. That said, the Xbox 360 kept me company for many an hour when I was recovering from being hospitalised with pneumonia some ten or so years ago. I spent weeks barely moving from the sofa at Dave’s house playing a puzzle game called”Hexic”
Since having kids, Dave’s Xbox days have been put on pause. He hasn’t had the time for gaming and it’s something we’ve intentionally avoided introducing the kids to until now on the basis that they have many years of gaming ahead of them and we wanted them to develop their imagination and a love of reading first – to have the skills to fight boredom without screens.
However, the time has come. Last year Ben asked for an Xbox for Christmas, we told him it was a very big present and something we thought perhaps Father Christmas would bring when he was older and when the girls would be able to share it with him. He actually hasn’t asked again this year but we decided the time is right and as a family gift we will be getting an Xbox.
What I hadn’t realised is that Xbox now have a whole family of consoles available, the latest of course being the Xbox One X. This is the most powerful console for hard core gaming with features such as a huge memory, super fast processing and six teraflops of processing power (Yes, I know – I thought someone had made it up too!) and perhaps not necessarily what you’d buy as your child’s first console as it’s obviously the most expensive and your eight year old wouldn’t necessarily appreciate the super powerful features however if you know you’re not going to want to upgrade any time soon and want to future-proof your console (bearing in mind the increasing popularity of 4k TV) then you might want to look at investing more from the outset. It’s also worth bearing in mind that if you already have an Xbox One or Xbox One S at home, if you upgrade your console to the latest Xbox One X then you won’t lose out on your previous games – it will all move across with you. Essentially when you put your game in, it will know which type of console you are using and set up appropriately for that.
Whilst we’re on the topic of how family friendly the new Xbox One X is – it’s is vitally important that if your child gets any console this Christmas then you must ensure you set it up for them. Do not let your ten year old take control of setting it up – yes we all know that they might well be quicker and more confident then you but the point is that you need to ensure everything it set up safely and with the appropriate parental controls. Our new Xbox will be set up in the playroom where we can see it at all times and we will spend time playing the games with the kids so we know what they’re playing and who they are interacting with once XBox Live is set up.
With my experience of Xbox so far being predominantly of games which are not remotely appropriate for children, I had found myself wondering what we would get for the kids to play – particularly for my girls who I’m keen to ensure benefit from this Christmas gift just as much as their big brother (and probably Daddy too!). And whilst I’m not one for pigeon holing things by gender – I can’t see either of them being all that interested in Fifa or Minecraft right now. As part of my visit to the Xbox One X Loft last week I had the chance to try out a number of family friendly games which are basically suitable for children of any age, as long as they can mange the controller! I would think about three is probably right though as I’ve said, we’ve personally avoided introducing our children to gaming when they were really little knowing that the time would come soon enough!
So, please bear in mind that I have little to no gaming experience but I’m coming at these games as a Mum thinking about playing them with my own children – I can’t and won’t use the proper technical terms and I know little about graphics or teraflops but I can tell you what I liked about playing the games myself . . .
Super Lucky’s Tale
This is a brand new game launched alongside the XBox One S and is the sequel to Lucky’s Tale. It reminds me very much of playing Sonic on my friend’s Sega Mega Drive as a kid but obviously way better! When you start to play there are lots of clear instructions to help you figure out which bits of the controller do what – which for a novice like me is vital. The characters in the game are very cute, in fact the whole thing is positively charming. The satisfying ping as you collect coins felt really nostalgic for me and I was quickly absorbed in the game – each time I lost a life and returned to a check point, I found myself discovering something different, how to be better or quicker at what I was trying to do. It’s a frustratingly addictive game and something I could definitely lose hours playing. It’s worth mentioning that you need to be able to read as the characters aren’t speaking English – they chatter away in their own little language with a translation appearing in a speech bubble. I suppose once you’ve had this read to you a few times you’d soon know what you needed to do though. Of the four games I played at the Xbox One X loft, this was most definitely my favourite and one I’m certain will become a firm favourite in our household this Christmas.
I came to this game after someone else had been playing it so didn’t start from the beginning – as someone who isn’t all that au fait with computer games this meant I was a bit lost for a while, unsure of what I was actually meant to do be doing. Eventually I realised that I was being given a set of challenges – for example taking an autograph book to Mickey Mouse or giving Goofy a high five. I found it really easy to potter around completing missions but couldn’t for the life of me work out how to pick things up when I found them – I suspect this is just a complete lack of experience on my part as you know the kids would work it out immediately! This is a great game for exploring Disneyland or for reliving memories if you’ve already been. The interaction with the various Disney characters is lovely and something I think little ones would find really appealing. It’s really easy to follow for little ones making it a great introduction to gaming – for Amy who is just four I think she would be able to manipulate the controller to follow the golden path and find the characters whereas Ben and Chloe would be able to read and follow the instructions to complete the game properly. This game is more than just wandering around the theme park though and I had a try at the bob sleigh (which seemed to be accessed through some sort of magical portal) – it was great fun but I found the fast pace and immersive graphics actually made me feel a bit sick . . . this isn’t the first time that playing a computer game has given me motion sickness, I fear it’s my age!
This felt like a really “gentle” game – there was nothing loud or stressful, just nice interaction with the animals and a great way to familiarise yourself with how the controller works. The graphics all felt really realistic with lots of attention to details eg the movement of the animals or the dirty finger prints on a window. Essentially the purpose of the game is to create a great zoo where the animals are happy and well looked after and guests want to come and pay a high entrance fee – the better your zoo, the more money you will make conversely if your zoo isn’t doing well then your fame rating will drop and nobody will come to visit you! This wasn’t my favourite game, I felt a bit like it lacked purpose however I think if you’re into the whole Sims thing then maybe you’d enjoy this too?
Rush: A Disney Pixar Adventure
Now I should say that I came to this game in the middle of someone else’s play and didn’t manage to play it for very long. I was playing some sort of mission with characters from the Incredibles but I believe there’s actually quite a bit of variety within this game. Personally I found the game I was playing way too fast – with the flashing lights, loud explosions and a general sensory overload – it made me feel really sick and I had to stop playing. That said I know that Ben would love it. With lots of action – throwing objects, jumping and sliding along with big explistions sand a voice over adding to the tension – this felt like a great lead into the more grown up action games that I know he will want to play when he’s older. This was definitely a game I could see Dave and Ben playing together (with me at a safe distance!)
Before heading home I had a quick play on the Forza Motorsport game – which I was unsurprisingly rubbish at taking over 8 minutes to do my first lap and just over 5 minutes to do my second (that’s some dramatic improvement from utterly dreadful to really awful . . . ) but I surprised myself with how much I enjoyed playing it. Funnily enough it didn’t seem to make me feel sick which surprsied me. The graphics were incredible – especially on the wet track. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Dave didn’t slip this one into our basket come Christmas as I know he always loved a racing game when he was younger!
All in my day at the Xbox One X Loft has made me realise that there are loads of really family friendly games available which can be played on both the Xbox One S and the Xbox One X – so how family friendly is the Xbox One X? Very if you can afford to splash out!
*I was invited to visit the Xbox One X Loft but have not been compensated for writing this post*