The fall always holds something special for owners of Microsoft’s Xbox One entertainment console. It’s when the best-selling games – titles like Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare and Watch Dogs 2 – arrive on store shelves. Microsoft also uses the season to debut a number of bundles all aimed at luring in those looking for a good deal. To that end, it’s already stocked stores with a handful of Xbox One S consoles bundles that come with free games. Late yesterday, the company revealed what it’s calling the Xbox One Holiday Update. This fall’s large software update for all owners of the Xbox One and Xbox One S has arrived.
Mostly, the Xbox One Holiday Update consists of things that we already knew where in the works because Microsoft announced them at its Electronic Entertainment Expo briefing this past June. The software upgrades two headlining features connect people in new ways. With the Xbox One now switched over to the same storefront that Windows 10 users enjoy and Xbox One apps slowly starting to get traction, Microsoft has turned back to focusing on quality of life improvements for Xbox Live.
If you haven’t been prompted to install the Xbox One Holiday Update, you will be over the next few days. Here’s all the new features and software changes that you can look forward to once you have the software installed.
Xbox One Holiday Update: How Xbox Hopes You Make New Friends
When the Xbox One launched in 2013, Microsoft said that its engineers had rebuilt Xbox Live for a new generation of gaming. They introduced new features like sharing digital games with your friends and more reliable messaging. For all of the upgrades this new version of Xbox Live included, the way users interacted with each other went mostly unchanged. Later on, Microsoft added ways to follow specific users and a showcase for highlighting accomplishments.
Looking for Group and Xbox Live Clubs are the biggest things to happen to interactions over Xbox Live in years. One makes it incredibly easy to make new friends. The other makes it easy to stay in contact with those new friends outside of your gaming sessions.
Xbox Live Looking for Group
Sometimes abbreviated to just LFG, Looking for Group sort of behaves like a manual matchmaking service outside of a game. Users find a title that they enjoy, then fill in a few parameters about what they’d like to do with other people while playing that game. Details include how many people they need and what requirements they have for those participating. For example, gamers can emphasis a specific mode or having a microphone. They can even highlight the Achievement that they’re trying to piece together a squad to unlock.
Looking for Group posts can be created a week ahead of when gamers want to play. In the run up to the gaming session, Xbox Live sends alerts every time someone expresses interest. Users decide whether they want everyone across Xbox Live to see their LFG entry, or whether they want to limit it to an Xbox Live Club.
The easiest way to create an LFG entry and to check for entries you might want to look into is to go to a title’s Game Hub.
Xbox Live Clubs
Xbox Live Clubs are exactly what their name says they are. Anyone on Xbox Live can create a special group that’s as open or as closed as you want it to be. Clubs have their own Activity Feed, Group Messaging and Looking for Group entry so that it’s easy for users to play together.
Like Looking for Group, clubs have a tag system for communicating what kind of community users want to build there. There are tags for only encouraging those above the age of 18 to join. You can require that users have a microphone so that you’re better able to strategize.
Xbox Live Clubs don’t require an Xbox Live Gold subscription to create or to join, though playing online with club members certainly does. You can create a Club from the Community area. They’re also tied into the Game Hubs so that you can find your favorite games, then see what Clubs that play those games are accepting new members.
Xbox One Holiday Update: Achievement Rarity & Gamescore Leaderboard
After the success of Achievements with the Xbox 360, some thought that the Xbox One’s Challenges would catch on. That never happened though, developers stopped creating new Challenges for their titles regularly. Soon they were gone from Xbox Live entirely. Two new features in the Xbox One Holiday Update sort of make up for their loss.
The first is Achievement rarity. Every game has Achievements that are very tedious or difficult to get. Xbox Live now knows how many people that played a game unlocked a specific Achievement and uses those statistics to decide when an Achievement should be classified as rare. Rare Achievements have a special sound and diamond emblem.
The Gamerscore leaderboard isn’t new. It’s been around for years. This updated Gamerscore Leaderboard changes the method it uses to calculate who’s at the top. Whereas the old leaderboard monitored the last 30 consecutive days, the new leaderboard monitors the current calendar month. The change means it’s for players that aspire to be at the top of the leaderboard to make their way there.
Xbox One Holiday Update: Group Messages, Emojii and Xbox on Windows 10
The Xbox One used to rely on a Party Chat to send a message to more than one user. Now Group Messages allow you to add multiple users to a message directly from the Xbox Guide, whether you’re in a Party with them or not.
Group Messaging’s release corresponds with two other changes in the Xbox One Holiday Update. The on-screen keyboard uses the same predictive text engine that other Windows 10 devices to help you type quickly. Microsoft also added support for Emojiis.
All of these features are coming to the Xbox apps on Windows 10, iPhone and Android this week as well.
Of course, the Xbox One Holiday Update is absolutely free. Users with the Always Connected power mode turned on will get the upgrade installed automatically. Those without it will be asked to install it the next time that they connect to Xbox Live.