The Xbox One's UI has had its fair share of teething problems since launch, but none of its features have been as heavily criticised as the new Xbox Live party features. Setting up an Xbox One party is certainly cumbersome (right now, anyway) when compared to Xbox 360, but it doesn't have to be a nightmare. Here are a few simple tips to make sure a crummy connection doesn't spoil your fun.
There are a number of ways to start a party on Xbox One. From your home screen, select your profile tab on the left side of the screen. From there, select Friends, click on the friend you want to party with, and then select Invite to Party. You'll have to do this for each individual friend you want to invite.
Alternatively, you can go directly to the Parties tab in your profile and invite people to your party from there. Before you begin setting up a party, it might be worth checking the Xbox Live service status to ensure that everything is up and running. If you want to crash a party already in progress, head to your profile tab and scroll across to the right to the Parties tab to see a list of active groups. Click one and select Join to Snap the party to your screen.
When joining or adding to parties, bear in mind that while up to 32 friends can join a party, only eight mics can be active at one time. So if that quota is already filled, you won't be able to make use of voice chat. Remember, too, that everyone in the group will need an Xbox Live Gold account if they want to participate in voice chat.
If you're using Kinect to chat rather than a headset, make sure that the appropriate box is ticked in the Kinect sub-section of the Settings menu. You might want to check your privacy settings whilst you're at it, to make sure that your console isn't blocking voice chat for safety reasons.
If none of this helps, and your internet connection seems to be running fine, then your next port of call is to check your NAT settings. NAT, or "network address translation", is a network protocol that allows multiple devices to connect to a public network. It only affects peer to peer gaming, so shouldn't pose a problem if the game you're playing is hosted on dedicated servers, like Forza Motorsport 5.
To check your current NAT type, press the menu button on your Xbox controller, go down to settings, then select Network. Under current network status, you'll see NAT type. It should be 'open' - if it's either moderate or strict, you're very likely to experience issues talking to others via chat, or playing and hosting multiplayer games.
If you perform a multiplayer connection test from the network settings screen, pull and hold all four bumpers and triggers on your controller to display a more detailed network stats screen after the test is complete. In the second column, you'll see a field for detailed NAT information. It'll take the console a few seconds to retest the NAT type, and you'll see a (...) displayed in the meantime.
Once you see NAT information pop up, the test is complete and you'll be given a little more info on your current situation. If NAT is still coming up as moderate or strict, you'll need to troubleshoot your internet connection and make sure you have a public IP address. This is all dependent on your home set-up, so follow Xbox Support's NAT solution wizard for a step-by-step personalised guide.
It's also worth mentioning that if you're attempting to play Battlefield 4, it doesn't get on all that well with parties - the game's coding will attempt to monopolise chat for in-game squad commands if you set up a party while the game is in progress. If the party is already in-session before the game is launched, however, that conflict won't happen. So, make sure you fully quit rather than suspending the game - press menu button whilst hovering over the tile, and select 'quit' - then create your party before loading up BF4 together.
If all else fails, it's possible friends could download Skype app instead of using Xbox Live chat - you won't have any SmartMatch-related annoyances, and the voice clarity is generally excellent. Not an ideal solution, but it's an option at least until the next Xbox One update rolls out.
Did any of this do the trick? If you're experiencing issues with voice chat - or any of Xbox One's social functions - and you can't see a fix here, give us a shout and we'll do our best to hunt down a solution.
Here are some tips for the Xbox One's Netflix app, if it's giving you problems. You may remember that sorting out party chat is one of the fixes we want from the next Xbox One OS update - check out a few of the other known issues here.