Review | Xbox Series X
The Xbox Series X has been out for a month now, and we’ve had plenty of time to put it through its paces. As the flagship console from Microsoft, this system really is the next level of gaming for consoles. Bringing new features and quality of life improvements, there’s a lot to appreciate here. Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s a perfect transition, but this all plays into the overall Xbox ecosystem that Microsoft is trying to maintain. How it will play out in the long run, only time will tell, but for now, here’s our thoughts on the console.
Before we get into the hardware, we have to talk about the presentation here. Right away, the box for the Xbox Series X is a great way to welcome consumers to their new product. You’ll have Halo’s Master Chief adorning the back of the box, giving players a tease of the next new game. As you open the box, the console is neatly packaged and wrapped with the slogan “power your dreams,” a simple yet effective message for this new generation. The box keeps things simple with a sleek console, an ultra high speed HDMI cable, a controller, AA batteries, and a power cable. It honestly doesn’t get much cleaner than that.
Now getting to the setup, the Xbox Series X changes things up from previous consoles. The system encourages using the Xbox app to set up your new console. It actually makes things pretty simple, allowing you to connect your new console to your network, and you can even transfer information from an older Xbox One system this way. All of this is happening as your console is setting itself up, so it makes things pretty efficient. Things go rather quickly, making for a pretty smooth setup. Once you’re done, those familiar with Xbox One will feel right at home with the UI of the system.
While it’s nice to have familiarity, it’s unfortunate that the system doesn’t change things more. There’s a lot of time for the UI to change over the next few years, but it makes the jump to this generation feel smaller. Of course, just because it looks the same, it doesn’t mean there aren’t still new features. One of those features is the ability to add dynamic themes to your background. While you could do still images on the Xbox One, now you can have simple animated background themes on the Series X. The system also operates much faster, with download speeds heavily increasing and the interface being snappier than ever.
Of course, one of the bigger features that the Xbox Series X brings is the Quick Resume feature. This allows players to quickly jump between games within seconds, without needing to quit them entirely. It’s a useful feature for someone that wants to suspend their games, but it might also be a luxury we have to adjust to. I myself am still used to simply closing my games and coming back to them when I want to. The ability to switch from Gears 5 to Assassin’s Creed Valhalla within seconds is awesome, but I’m not at a point where I find myself needing it immediately yet. Even then, it’s not available for all games, though it seems the ability only requires a patch from developers.
Of course, one of the bigger features is the Smart Delivery capability. This goes hand in hand with the backwards compatibility, but the Xbox Series X automatically provides the best version of a game possible. Whether this means playing an Xbox 360 game with 4K support, or getting the Xbox Series X version of Yakuza: Like a Dragon, it’ll depend on the game. Perhaps this is a plus side of the consistent interface with Xbox One. Either way, it’s an incredibly welcome feature and it makes this one of the most consumer friendly consoles in years. Upon booting up my console and checking out my library of games, several had the S|X logo on them to identify them. Of course, the only downside to these upgrades is the massive amount of data required for the download.
Speaking of downloads, you’ll have roughly 802GB of storage on the console’s SSD. It’s not very much when considering how big games have become, but it’s still manageable. Luckily, you’re able to expand upon this storage, though it might cost a pretty penny initially. For those that have an external storage drive from their Xbox One, you’ll be happy to know you can still use it… just not for Xbox Series X games. Your Xbox One games will work perfectly fine from them. Even better, your hard drive will plug right in with no need to reformat. Unfortunately, their speed isn’t fast enough to support the next-gen games. Your Series X games will require a proprietary storage solution for the time being.
Getting to the controller, Microsoft kept things simple, not making too many significant changes. The controller is mostly the same, with the same layout, though now with the addition of the Share button. This new button makes taking screenshots and video clips a breeze. In addition to the share button, the D-Pad has been redesigned to an angular concave setup. It’s pretty comfortable and so far has had no issues for me during any games. Finally, there’s the textured grips on the sides of the controller, as well as the triggers. They make it easy to keep the controller in your hands and make a great controller even greater. And for those that prefer the original Xbox One controller, you can still use them!
When it comes to playing the system, there’s been very little issue. I’ve had minor crashes while playing certain games, but my overall experience has been pretty smooth. The system is quiet and incredibly compact, despite the initial reveal implying otherwise. It’s also worth mentioning the air circulation works well both vertically and horizontally, so the system is flexible with either orientation. Having the disc drive is also a plus, especially since I can use it to watch my 4K blu-rays. Nothing against pro-digital gamers, but I prefer to have the disc option.
Honestly, the Xbox Series X is a pretty amazing machine. It’s powerful, providing 4K resolutions at up to 120 fps with ease. The system is supposed to be capable of 8K, though at this time, there isn’t anything to test this out. Either way, the system performs great, presents itself in a sleek manner, and does so with confidence. While I would’ve liked to see more UI changes, the overall hardware is fantastic. Microsoft should be proud of the product they have, because it’s a real winner.
Final Score: 8.5 out of 10