Everything a console gamer needs to step into the big leagues.
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I have a lot of hobbies that take up most of my spare time, but few are as purely fun as video games. Books and movies help me escape the monotony of my day-to-day and let me live vicariously through different characters and their plights. Games do the same thing, plus the methods to be an active participant. They're a collection of art forms—music, visual art, writing, and more—that are greater than the sum of their parts.
While I used to play games on my PC, now most of it is done via my Xbox. Yeah, yeah, some of the "hardcore gamers" out there might mock and deride gaming on a console, but it fits my lifestyle just fine. Gone are the worries about whether or not my graphics card can handle the latest game. Gone are the fickle mouse/keyboard controls (I know they provide better accuracy, but a controller just feels better, okay?). Gone are the quiet, nagging voices that my monitor isn't big enough.
If you ask me, console gaming is where it's at—the Xbox One, PlayStation 4 or Nintendo Switch. It's hassle-free, easy to use, and is perfect for casual or dedicated gamers. So, whether you're in the market for your first Xbox or just want to upgrade your current setup, here are my recommendations for the must-have accessories.
First things first, you're going to need a console to play on. Whether you're looking to get your first Xbox or just want an upgrade, I'd recommend spending the extra cash and getting the Xbox One S. The size difference alone makes the One S a vast improvement over the basic One.
While the upgrades aren't super drastic, the Xbox One S supports HDR (High Dynamic Range) and doubles as a 4K Blu-ray player—something the PS4 Pro doesn't do. The One S can also upscale your games to 4K, and offers a general boost to performance across the board. This particular bundle comes with the console, "Battlefield 1," one month of EA Access, a controller, a 4K HDMI cable, the power cable, and a 14-day Xbox Live Gold Trial—all for $240. Trust me, that's an incredible deal.
Any Xbox console you buy should come with a wireless controller already, but it's always good to have a spare. If you're in the mood to upgrade your setup, I'd invest in the Elite Wireless controller. As my good friend Lee points out in his excellent write-up, the Elite controller is a must-have for anyone who's serious about their games. The value stems from the ridiculous level of customization the Elite controller is capable of. If you need more convincing, consider that your controller is the one accessory you're going to use every single time you play a game. Spending a little extra for a better experience is well worth it.
Alternatively, you could head to the Xbox Design Lab and customize the color scheme of your controller to add a personal touch to your gaming setup. The build quality is a step up from the $45 basic controller, while still not quite hitting the levels of the Elite Controller. It might cost around $80, but for a chance to completely customize your controller, that's not a half bad deal.
I spent a lot of time reviewing and testing headphones which has given me a unique perspective when it comes to picking out the headphones that I'll use. Anyone who enjoys their video game hobby should immerse their ears in directional tracking, crisp high, and deep bass. Trust me, a good audio experience can make or break a game for you.
After testing some of the top performers on the market for a look at the best headphones for Xbox One, I came away with a new appreciation for the Razer Kraken Pro V2. The price point is just right (enough to know you aren't buying a cheap bit of plastic, but affordable enough to not break the bank) and the performance was spot on. With peerless mic quality, incredible sound, and a design that's easy on the eyes, the Kraken Pros are clear winners (even if they were designed with PC gamers in mind).
Depending on which console you've decided to get, you might need to consider picking up an external hard drive to help store all of your games. You could obsessively manage your storage and delete whatever game you're not currently playing—which is then helpfully saved to the cloud and ready to be downloaded again when you want it, saved data and all—but who has time for that?
Instead, a hard drive like this one from Western Digital can safely store all of your games and keep them ready to play at the drop of a hat. It doesn't matter if you haven't picked up your copy of "Witcher 3: Wild Hunt" in months (guilty), it'll be there ready and waiting. Of course, this is slightly complicated if you pack up and travel with your Xbox frequently. But, if you keep it tucked snuggly in your entertainment center you won't have a thing to worry about.
Before I share some of my favorite games, I'd be remiss not to mention the Xbox One Media Remote. While you could opt to donwload the Xbox app—from iTunes or Google Play—to give you second screen control of your console, a dedicated remote can go a long way to in terms of convienience. For starters, you won't have to worry about connecting to the internet, then connecting to your console, then waiting for the app to load the correct screen.
Instead, you have a pretty simple and generic remote that'll let you control your apps, Blu-ray movies, Netflix, TV power, and volume. The keys even light up automatically so you won't have to squint in the dark when you just need to pause your movie for a quick bathroom break.