Over the next few days we are going to give new arrivals to the Xbox family a quick guide so that you can get the most out of your new console. We’ve already covered setting the system up and the peripherals available for the console. Still to come, we’ll be covering more advanced features and the must-have games on Xbox One. Today we’re going to take a look at Xbox Live, the way you get your console online.
To connect to Xbox Live you need to have a membership, which comes in two flavours, Sliver and Gold. Silver membership is free and connects you to the store, friends lists, game hubs, and nearly all features apart from playing online multiplayer. To play multiplayer, you will need a gold subscription. You can either choose to pay $59.99 for a full year, or you could choose a shorter period such as 6 months $24.99, or $9.99 for a single month. As well as being able to play online multiplayer, Gold membership grants you other benefits as well. First of all there’s Games With Gold, which will give you two free Xbox One games a month (as well as two free Xbox 360 games). Deals With Gold gives you discounts on a select choice of games that changes each week. Gold membership also allows you to create parties with other gamers. This allows you to chat and communicate with a group of your friends (or any random players you meet) while playing your own game or all together in another game.
Once you are connected to Xbox Live you gain access to numerous online apps. There are video streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu Plus, Machinima, and HBO Go (although these do require individual subscriptions to the relevant service). You can also use Skype that will allow you to contact any of your friends and even make video calls (if you have Kinect). You can also watch and stream gameplay through Twitch (though you need to set up a Twitch account).
The Xbox Store is your one-stop online shop for any games, apps, movies, etc. that you want to buy. Not only can you buy almost every game that has been released for Xbox One, but you can preorder titles, get demos for games, download a hefty selection of free-to-play titles, and a huge array of apps for the system. There’s also the Xbox Preview Program that is very similar to Steam Early Access. Here you can buy games for a reduced cost before they get a full retail release. These titles are normally incomplete as the developer is still working on them, but you do get the full game once it gets a full release.
The main reason people get a Gold subscription for Xbox Live is so that they can play online multiplayer. Since more games are having significant multiplayer components, and some are purely multiplayer, a gold subscription is becoming a necessity for XBox One owners. Most games will allow you to invite your friends or let you join as a party, but all games will use matchmaking to help you find a game if you’re playing on your own. The other thing to remember is that you may want to play with a headset so that you can communicate with the other people in your game. Just remember that if you’re using a headset, make sure it’s not picking up music you’re playing in the background or other conversations that are going on as no one else wants to hear that. Also be respectful to other gamers and there is no excuse for abuse of any kind.
Well that covers the basics of Xbox Live. If you have any questions about this or anything else related to Xbox Live please shout out in the comments section below. Check back tomorrow for the next in our Xbox 101 series.