We now know what the Xbox Series X will provide in terms of hardware. Today I want to look at what this fan wants from the Xbox Series X LFG experience. This year will see the next generation of video game consoles arrive when both Xbox Series X and PS5 launch. That’s barring any kind of COVID-19 delay, which there isn’t a hint, yet.
The Xbox Series X, or as we here at LRM like to call it, the Xbox SeX, would have to be pretty awful to get me to switch to PS5. That probably goes the same for the majority of console owners. We gamers build friendships, clans, and history like trophies and achievements. It’s these tools that both Sony and Microsoft use to attain some brand loyalty. That’s why I am focussing on the Xbox SeX and not the PS5 here in this article.
This is a new generation, as such I do expect a better experience than the Xbox One. So let’s talk about some of the features and improvements I would like to see from the UI side of the Xbox Series X. After all, it doesn’t matter how powerful you make a console if the software running it doesn’t make the most of that power. Today I’m going to be focussing on Xbox’s inbuilt LFG system.
What Is LFG?
This is a feature that currently exists on the Xbox One, but not the PS4. Xbox provides an inbuilt LFG function, and LFG stands for either ‘Looking For Group’, or ‘Looking For Gamers’. There are a multitude of independent sites out there that also provide good LFG functionality. I have used many of these sites in the past. However, once Xbox released their own version, within the console architecture itself, there was no point going anywhere else.
There will be gamers out there who have no interest in the social aspect of gaming, but a lot do. Many of the games I enjoy can be played solo, but at points, you may need a group for a specific activity. This is where LFG comes into play. I have friends, and I am part of a clan, but that doesn’t always mean everyone is around at the same time, or looking to do the same activity. So Xbox’s inbuilt LFG is a great tool, it could be even better though.
Currently, the LFG section is part of the main menu in the UI. I have to come to navigate to the LFG section and away from my game. I then have to input what I am playing and select all the joining instructions for anyone searching. In a game like Destiny 2, which is an always-online Action/MMO, I have timed out creating a group. I have seen this happen to many other people as well.
When I find the gamers who want to join me, I invite them to a party chat. I can then conveniently invite everyone to the game with one click. The problem is that not everyone joins immediately, or impatient folks leave before you can get enough people in. I was in a group last night where we had to LFG for one person to join 5 clanmates. No one could be bothered to be the one to actually make the LFG post, because it’s just a hassle.
Improved LFG on Xbox Series X as Host
This Xbox Series X is going to be powerful enough to do some amazing things. This is how I’d like to see the LFG options improved. For a start, I think the LFG shouldn’t take you away from the game. I am happy to press my guide button, go to create a group and press select. However, I want the Xbox Series X to recognize what game I am playing. The game I am looking to create a group for should be obvious. The LFG stores common hashtags users can select to make their create posts easier, so I should be just selecting the relevant hashtags, amount of players I need and pressing go. After it is set up I want to be straight back to playing my game.
When it comes to gathering people together, it would be cool to have smarter options. For example gamer XXSnipezzzzyoudeadXXX is interested in your game, press X to approve, Y to reject. If I press X, that sends a notification to Mr or Mrs try-hard and let’s them know they are in the group. Then the system informs them to await for party or game invites. If I press Y, because I’ve played with this person before and didn’t enjoy it, then it tells them they have been rejected. Quick and simple and both gamers are still playing away until everything is ready. By the time I have filled the group like this, I may need to finish up whatever I was doing before we start.
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Once I have filled my group, I want the game to present me with options like this. Your session is now full, would you like to… A (invite everyone to party chat.) X (invite everyone automatically in 5 minutes.) Y (invite everyone automatically in 10 minutes.) Whatever option I choose will notify all the other gamers on the list. Something like, the host has auto-invited you to a party in 5 minutes’ time?
Good communication keeps everyone informed as to the situation, and that means happier gamers. If one person decides they need to leave after committing, because their Mom is shouting them for dinner, everyone should be informed. This lets everyone in the group know what has happened and they know the host has to search for another person. The options should then switch back to search mode again, not make me have to create another LFG post, which takes time.
Improved LFG On Xbox As Participant
Sometimes you don’t want the hassles of creating your own group. You may, however, want to browse the posts that other gamers are putting up? So why not make this even easier. Let’s say I am playing a game and I would be interested to know if anyone wants to play a specific activity. I should be able to open the browser at a button press or two. That is there currently, but it’s clumsy and takes you out of the game.
Again I want the Xbox to recognize what game I am playing and present me options for that game. Perhaps again, using the common hashtags that other users have created? Currently, I have to select the game and all my filter options. I then have to keep refreshing out of game until I find what I am looking for. Once I find a group and say I am interested, I am then in limbo waiting for a party invite or a game invite from the host.
I want to be able to select my options and go back to gaming. When a new post that matches my criteria appears, I want Xbox to notify of this and give me simple options to choose from. Dismiss and keep searching, dismiss and cancel search, and of course, accept. When I accept I want Xbox to tell me I have been added to the group and to wait for further notifications. I can then go back to preparing for the activity whilst the host sorts the rest of the group out. Like I said above, I could then be notified when the group is full and when the host is going to invite us all.
Simple and easy, that’s what this feature should be. Connecting gamers with as little effort on their part as possible. The Xbox servers, hardware, and the software that runs on it should be doing the bulk of the donkey work here. The benefit is making the tool easy to use for gamers of all ages and backgrounds. For example, I would only set my options to English only, as if I join a German group and can’t communicate, it might not work out?
The current LFG system is good, because it exists finally, but it does take you away from gaming. I have seen me having to keep going back to a game in order to stop it booting me from the server. I then would have to go all the way back to my LFG options and so on and so forth, and that’s just a hassle no one wants. Ain’t nobody got time for that sheet!
Xbox’s current LFG system was not in place for the launch of Xbox One. It, therefore, had to be added in separately and it feels like an add-in. It’s still hugely popular and I know of many PS4 players who wish Sony would copy the current system. Why not take things one step further in the Xbox SeX, and have this functionality designed to be as seamless and easy as possible for the user?
Wrap It Up, Fanboy!
LFG or any functionality is pointless without some good games to use them on. I feel like Xbox understands the social aspects of gaming more than Sony. Sony is the king of single-player, story-driven games. However, I Xbox is the king when it comes to social gaming and multiplayer options for me. I really enjoy that social aspect of gaming, as a father with two jobs, I don’t get out much. When I do manage some leisure time I enjoy speaking with friends while I game, or we game together. Some of the people I call friends, or some of the clans I have joined, have sprung up from an initial meeting on an LFG site. Finding someone you can have a laugh with, and get help with the games you enjoy, is priceless.
What do you think of my ramblings about Xbox LFG? Have you used the service on Xbox, what changes would you make? Or, if you are on PS4, is this something you would like to see Sony add for the PS5? any thoughts, let us know in the usual spot below.
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