An "early March" system update for the Xbox One will bring some popular multiplayer features from the Xbox 360 with the intention of improving the multiplayer experience in advance of the launch of Respawn's exclusive, multiplayer-only Titanfall, according to Xbox product chief Marc Whitten.
Those updates will be coupled with some improved stereo headphone support.
In a pair of Xbox One blog posts that we were shown in advance by Microsoft, Whitten outlines the various upgrades set for the system's March update. Highlights, from Microsoft:
Get to your friends list faster. The friends list will be front and center on the homepage of the Friends app. Click the Social tile on Home, or say "Xbox, go to Friends" to see who's online and what they're up to. From there you can quickly send messages and get into a party.
Party chat will be turned on by default. When you party up, chat audio will be turned on by default.
Chat with friends playing different games. Party chat will be separated from people playing your game, so you can chat with your friends who are online or you can chat with everyone playing the game.
We're adding an "Invite friends to game" option to your multiplayer titles moving forward. Similar to Xbox 360 titles, this will appear inside a games' menu and offer a simple and quicker way to set up your multiplayer battles. Selecting "Invite friends" will let you invite friends to your game and party.
We're adding "Recent Players." This is a simple list that shows you Xbox Live members you've recently played with, making it easier to stay in touch with people, or add new friends after your multiplayer battles
It's a bit strange that some of these features, so well-liked on the 360, weren't on the Xbox One from the get-go, but all's well that patches and updates well. Xbox One players have only had to do without them for a few months. In his post, Whitten thanks gamers for their feedback and promises continued improvements.
Whitten is also announcing the early March release of an $US80 Xbox One stereo headset that includes support for chat and separate volume levels for chat and game audio.
At the same time, Microsoft is also releasing a $US25 stereo headset adaptor that will work with regular stereo headsets with a standard 3.5mm audio jack or Xbox 360 headsets with a 2.5mm audio jack. In either case, the adaptor plugs into the controller to enable chat audio. It does not appear to support hearing game audio, which is only possible through stereo headsets if the headset is plugged into the Xbox One console via an optical cable or if the user is plugging their headset into a separate device, such as a TV or receiver.
The Xbox One was slated to have its February update today, adding a controller battery indicator to the console's dashboard and an option for managing system storage, among other features. The timing of that update has become a little fuzzier, with Microsoft now simply referring to it as coming this week. [UPDATE: Microsoft's Major Nelson has confirmed that the update will not be hitting today but will arrive this week.] That update is supposed to enable, among other things, background updating that will automate future console updates, if players so desire.
The March update, will just generally promised for early next month, will likely hit in advance of March 11, the day that Titanfall comes out.