The Xbox Series X UI Feels A Bit Too Familiar

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The Xbox Series X UI Feels A Bit Too Familiar
Image: Kotaku Australia

The next generation of console gaming is here, but it’s surprising how much the new Xbox Series X UI resembles the older Xbox One interface. Beyond the fancy ray tracing, faster loading times and killer new graphics, the Xbox Series X feels hamstrung by a boring, cluttered UI we’re already familiar with.

Here’s how the UI currently looks on Xbox One consoles.

Image: Xbox One’s UI

And here’s what the Xbox Series X UI looks like:

Image: Kotaku Australia

Feels familiar, doesn’t it? In fact, outside of a few small tweaks, it’s largely the same.

Rather than focusing solely on gaming, the shared Xbox UI features multiple menu segments for entertainment, the Microsoft Store, in-game events and community sharing. To find your actual game library, you’ll need to jump to the bottom left corner of the screen, to a smaller icon called ‘My games & apps’. There’s so many icons and options on-screen, it’s actually fairly to find the first time.

The Xbox Home menu fills up with recently used apps, rather than games you actually own so the first time you jump in can be tricky. The menu can also be pretty annoying if you’re just using the Xbox Series X for gaming, because it’s filled with advertisements for Xbox Game Pass, new TV and movies, and recommended games.

Part of this is to do with Xbox’s focus on being an all-round entertainment machine rather than just a gaming console, but it just makes the menu seem overstuffed. There’s multiple different home pages, each of them with 10+ tiles for advertisements, photo sharing from friends and a bunch of other submenus that are large and obtrusive. Your games take up only a small minority of the screen.

Image: Kotaku Australia

But beyond this issue, the reuse of the current Xbox One UI is just a baffling choice.

The Xbox One UI was updated in mid-2020, and it’s this menu that’s been appropriated for the Xbox Series X. By installing the new UI so early on the Xbox One, Microsoft has effectively (and disappointingly) taken the shine off the Xbox Series X.

It’s for this reason the Xbox Series X doesn’t feel new until you really dive into a game. My first impression upon setting up the Xbox Series X wasn’t delight, it was “oh, this is just the Xbox One again.” There’s not enough here to differentiate the Xbox Series X and last generation’s consoles on a surface level.

You could boot up the Xbox One and the Xbox Series X and not be able to tell the difference between them because their menus are so similar outside of a few subtle touches. It lacks the ‘newness’ you’d expect from a new console, and while first impressions aren’t everything, it is a major disappointment.

Stay tuned to Kotaku Australia for further news, updates and reviews for all things Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S.

Comments

  • That’s… disappointing. The UI has been one of the major factors behind relegating my xbone to a glorified UHD player. (The deciding factors for me are: speed on cross-platform vs pro, few compelling exclusives, heinous UI, bulkier/clackier gamepad.)

    I’d been hoping Microsoft would use this as an opportunity to abandon the frustrating UX design philosophies that so irked me about the endlessly nested menus and overly-prominent advertising/social focus. Depending on the month’s updates, over the last year it has regularly been actually impossible to register your ‘games with gold’ without manually searching for the specific titles in question and claiming them from their individual game page.

    Sure, there are elements of the UI ‘pins’ that you’re allowed to customize, but it’s a very tiny, heavily-quarantined and intentionally limited part of the UI, with zero control over all the elements Microsoft wants you to see prominently all the time, not caring that you don’t ever want to see them.

    Something slimmer, cleaner, less-cluttered and more customizable would’ve been a great start to the next generation.

    • I totally agree, the rest of the experience was great but the UI is still a major frustration. I was really hoping for something new.

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