I got the chance to preview the new 360 dashboard update, which basically grants all players with access to their Facebook, Twitter, Halo Waypoint, and Last.fm. This should have been written ages ago, like, when I got it a week and a half ago. But, otherwise, it’s here now, so here is my impressions of the new dashboard update:
Okay, so it’s Facebook. But, it’s on your 360, which makes it harder to navigate, write anything (there’s no way I’m shelling out £20 for the keyboard attachment for the controller, fuck off), browse anything, or use, in comparison to using them on your computer.
But hey, look on the bright side! You get to see your Live Avatar! Doing… okay, nothing. It adds nothing.
Twitter is pretty much exactly the same as it would be on your computer, except your Xbox live avatar is there! And you can’t click any external links that people post on their tweets. And also, for some reason, you have to select each tweet individually because you can’t read the whole tweet because your avatar takes up the left side of the screen, and also, there’s just a load of free space for no reason. So, it’s Twitter with no external links, your Live Avatar, and a general sense of “Why?”
Obviously, Twitter on your 360 is far more suitable than Facebook is, but both are pretty much completely and utterly useless. Facebook is actually hard to navigate and use effectively on the 360, and writing comments and statuses is just really long and drawn out to the point where you wonder what the point is. Twitter isn’t much better, and its at least more useful than Facebook is, but it just kind of seems like Microsoft have cared more about just having them on the console than actually implementing them in any meaningful way. Especially when there’s no option to let them run in the background while you’re playing a game. It’d be far more useful (and annoying!) to be able to get updates from your Facebook and Twitter pop up while you play (optionally, of course), and be able to use it from the Guide during play, rather than having to quit the game entirely, and manually browse both. Because they’re just standalone on the console, and poorly implemented, they just seem like pointless “Me Too!” additions to appeal to gullible casuals.
This just assumes that I even give a damn about Halo. I just don’t enjoy the series anywhere near as much as other people do (I’ll probably explain why, someday). However, this is obviously for the millions of Halo fans that exist, and is probably a more wanted feature than Facebook.
My feelings towards Halo aside, the point of Waypoint, from what I gather, is just a super-dedicated hub for all that is Halo. It tracks your Halo progress. It gives you different tiers for how many achievements you’ve gained in all the Halo games, overall, and gives you prizes and avatar awards depending on if you’ve unlocked certain achievements or milestones. It does give you one for free for simply just downloading Waypoint though, but all the rest will come from how much hard work you put into Halo 3 ODST, and to a smaller extent, Halo 3, and to a tiny extent, Halo Wars. There’s also a lot of Halo news, and everything is basically Halo Halo Halo Halo have you got Halo do you love Halo have you got all the achievements for Halo? Halo Halo Halo Halo HALO!
In my opinion, this is the best addition the update brings.
Last.fm, for the uninitated, tracks the music you listen to, and then suggests new music you might like, creates radio stations dedicated to bands you listen to, bands similar to them, genres you like, similar genres, and so forth. This, in itself, is genius. If you have a pre-existing last.fm account, all the better, as it’ll remember all your tracks and favourites, and you’ll have stations dedicated to what you want to listen to. Because I already had a last.fm account, it had a massive selection of music to choose from, and this made it more satisfying to use.
Last.fm works brilliantly on the 360, and the advertisements are all music related and only last about 10 seconds, and come pretty rarely (in my usage, they came up once every 45 minutes or so), so it feels a lot less intrustive.
The only issue with last.fm is that, like every other new addition, you can’t run it alongside a game or anything as a potential soundtrack to your proceedings. It’s last.fm or nothing, which isn’t so bad. However, you start to realise “Hold on, the guide feature has a music player I can listen to while I play games, why can’t last.fm do the same? It’d work pretty much exactly the same way, only I’d actually have music to play on my last.fm account!” (I mean, I use an external hard drive to play music off of, if I’m that pressed, but I wouldn’t bother if I could use last.fm as the music player)
So why not, Microsoft? Why not allow us to use last.fm while we play games? It’s too good an idea to pass up, surely?
So there you have it! The upcoming Xbox 360 Live Dashboard update contains 4 main additions. 2 of them more or less completely useless because they’re so poorly implemented, 1 amazing idea, poorly implemented, and a dedicated Halo section, which is the only thing they seemed to have done properly.
The update is mandatory, looking forward to it is optional.