The future of gaming?
I’ve always been an Xbox fan, well at least since I got the Xbox 360. After the disappointing launch of the Xbox One, hype around the new Xbox Series X had my hopes up for Microsoft to nail the transition into the next generation of gaming. Though stocks were low thanks to the pandemic, I was fortunate enough to nab myself “the most powerful console in gaming” to see if it really lived up to its self-proclaimed title. Despite it being drastically cheaper than I anticipated, the console’s £450 price tag might make some question whether the console gives you enough bang for your buck. From my time playing the Series X, I can honestly say it’s a great console, with a minor caveat that could prove to be a deal breaker when deciding to buy this powerhouse piece of tech.
For those who love a good unboxing, you’ll be pleased to know that the new Xbox is packaged pretty nicely and is cased up like it were its own little display. As you open the box, you are met with the console’s tagline “power your dreams” above the carefully wrapped and positioned beauty of a console itself. It’s nothing too special, but the sweet presentation makes it abundantly clear how proud Microsoft is of their newest creation, and its hard not to take it all in.
What surprised me was how small the console actually is. Sure, it’s still pretty weighty - and chunky to boot - but it’s a satisfyingly simple little obelisk that makes a nice addition to any room. The ability to place it on its side, or in upright tower-esque fashion means it tends to fit almost anywhere, provided it has enough room to breathe. You’d even be surprised by how silent the console is, it hardly makes a noise in spite of its bulkiness and large fan. What you should watch out for though is to ensure it’s not too starved for space. In the time I’ve had my console, I’ve noticed it doesn’t produce too much heat, but if too confined, like any other console, it may overheat, especially when running next-gen optimized titles.
What I found personally disappointing was the lack of a new home screen/UI, which was already released on the Xbox One consoles a little while before release. For me it took away the joy of starting up the console for the first time, as there’s nothing really new to look at or take in. Despite this the UI is sleek and user friendly, and I found it easy to navigate and explore without too much trouble. The revamped store page is a personal highlight of mine, with a greater emphasis on presentation and design.
But how does the console perform? Would I say it is in fact, “the most powerful console in gaming”? Honestly, it’s hard to truly tell. By far the biggest problem with both the Series X is the lack of totally next-gen titles, with most games out just now only providing next-gen enhancements on the new consoles, rather than being built solely for them. Don’t get me wrong, games like Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla and NBA 2K21 look gorgeous and play exceptionally well. Load times are near instantaneous, the boost to FPS drastically improves the graphical quality and overall feel of the game, and generally the console hosts a plethora of gameplay and graphical improvements that are noticeable on both next-gen and backwards compatible games. Should you also decide to grab yourself a Game Pass subscription, you'll gain access to a whole heap of games, old and new, to try out on this truly superb piece of hardware.
But without any fully fledged next generation built games to test the consoles limits, it’s hard to say what it’s fully capable of. Additionally the console is lacking a big launch title, or any new first-party titles for that matter. This is the deal-breaker right here. If you're wanting an new console to see what its bringing to the table in the games department, you'll find the Xbox lacking compared to its competitor, the PlayStation 5. What I would say is that if you are a fan of Xbox exclusive games, purchasing the Series X, or even the Series S, might be a worthwhile investment, as Microsoft do have some great exclusives on the horizon; It's just a shame we didn't get them sooner.
Nonetheless the Xbox Series X is a drastic improvement on the Xbox One, so if you’re looking to get yourself that sweet next-gen upgrade, I would recommend the Xbox Series X without hesitation. The Series X offers players the chance to play any game at its highest and most impressive quality, with its bullet fast load times, gorgeous graphics, and a satisfyingly simple design, the console is well-worth the £450 price tag for those looking for the next-gen experience. The Series X is a titan of a games console, and though it might not have many first-party games to try out just now, I cannot wait to see what the future holds.