In 2001 Xbox was born. It had a fairly strong launch lineup, including Halo: Combat Evolved, Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee and Project Gotham Racing. As Microsoft’s first entry into the world of consoles, it performed modestly and laid the foundations for the future of the Xbox.
Why is it important to have a history lesson? Because the history of Xbox is one of the strengths of the Xbox Series X. Let’s dive into what the new console does right and wrong.
The Xbox Series X is fairly unassuming. It can fit comfortably into most setups and not look out of place. It looks a bit odd on its side but that’s not the end of the world. If what you want in your next-gen system is something that fits into any setup and has strong specs then the Xbox Series X is one to consider.
The most disappointing thing about the design is that it’s at its most interesting at the top. The circles with the green accents look lovely but they’ll be out of view in most setups. All this means is your Xbox Series X will just look unremarkable to most. A modest rectangle calmly resting in your entertainment centre or on your desk.
Looks are only a small part of what makes a console though. For the most part, it’s what’s on the inside that counts.
The Xbox Experience
The Xbox is easy to unpack and get connected to your TV. It encourages the use of the Xbox app whilst you’re setting it up which is a nice way to speed things along. A power cable and an HDMI simply plug in at the back and, once you put your AA batteries in the controller, you’re good to start getting the console ready to play.
At first, you’ll want to prioritise downloads of the games you want to play. You can’t alter the download queue drastically but you can make a game you want to play more start its download if you’re impatient.
The menus are like they are across most Xbox things these days. Microsoft is keen for uniformity and this helps make everything feel familiar. You can customise the experience but I still found some parts a touch too clunky for my liking.
Hitting the menu button on the controller brings up a list of last launched games and doesn’t seem to let you pin only certain games to it. Considering Quick Resume is a big thing for the Xbox Series X it makes this process slightly less fluid.
Capturing on the console is also still fairly limited. It’s improved upon last-gen for sure but is still far from what PlayStation offered even on the PlayStation 4. It’s a small problem and not everyone wants to capture what they’re doing but it’s a shame you can’t capture super long clips.
Everything loads in fairly quickly though, even from startup. It also runs quietly no matter how many games you have idled. That brings us nicely to…
Quick Resume deserves its own section because of how much of a potential game-changer it may eventually turn out to be. Right now it still has work to do though.
There’s no clear representation of what games work in Quick Resume and what games don’t. There’s also no indication when you hit your limit of games for Quick Resume to work, and thus knock one of them from its idle state.
It’s a frustrating oversight. In the past, it might be expected that people will only play one or two games but Game Pass encourages the idea of playing multiple games at once. What it means right now is that you’ll always be best off pausing your game and saving before you decide to jump into a new one.
I highly recommend pausing, as I noticed Yakuza: Like a Dragon continued playing after I went to the home screen in my tests for Quick Resume. At the time of testing Quick Resume didn’t work but the load times were so much faster than the PS4 version I had been playing.
Even on games without Quick Resume, the load times are far superior to the last generation. This means it’s not too big a problem when a game doesn’t Quick Resume. It’s just a shame there has to be guesswork to figure out which ones are compatible.
Game Pass and Backwards Compatability
As I said at the top of the review the history of Xbox is one of its strengths. The Xbox Series X is compatible with games dating back to the first-ever Xbox. It’s important to note it’s not compatible with all games but there are a lot that do work.
Being able to play such a large part of your collection on one console is fantastic and helps make older games more accessible to people. Being able to put in a 360 game I haven’t played for over a decade and play it on the Series X took a small update and I was away. The games tend to look better than they did back then too, with many having enhancements.
You can find a full list of backwards compatible games here. It’s not just the past making the past accessible but also the future. That’s where Game Pass comes in.
Game Pass may give gamers access to a library of old games but there are new games there as well. Any first-party release from Xbox will appear on Game Pass day one. It’s a great deal for those that love variety in their gaming and allows you to explore a lot of great games for less than £10 a month. If you pick up Ultimate for £10.99 you also get access to those games on mobile and PC, Xbox Gold and EA Play.
For those that like to explore a variety of games the options provided with Game Pass are impossible to ignore. The Xbox Series X provides the best way to play these games looking their best at under £450.
The games launching on Xbox Series X look better than their last-generation versions and load quicker. Right now though there isn’t that killer IP that you’ll feel you’ll be missing out on not seen on the next generation.
Yakuza loads much quicker and looks a bit nicer but it’s nowhere near the graphical leap some would hope. Same with Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla. It’s a bit slicker and you can notice a difference but nothing makes you think “this is next-gen”. Although I am very much enjoying games loading quickly. That is something that definitely shouldn’t be ignored when talking about the leaps happening in this generation.
It’s also important to stress that the games being released at launch on Xbox Series X aren’t bad games. There are some wonderful games available at launch that are worth picking up if you skipped them on last-gen. Tetris Effect: Connected is as beautiful as it is addictive and Dirt 5 is a superb looking racing game. Even the enhanced versions of last-gen games like Forza Horizon 4 and Sea of Thieves are very clearly different.
Right now the next-gen wonder of the Xbox Series X is more in its features than its games though. That will change over time. We know the quality of the studios Microsoft now own and it’ll be exciting to see what the likes of Bethesda and more will do over the next few years.
The Xbox Series X is perfect for the variety gamer. It values your time, loads quickly and Quick Resume is wonderful for those that like to chip away at multiple games at once.
Some people will be able to overlook the lack of exclusives on the console thanks to Game Pass and backwards compatibility. There’s no denying that the console is impressive. In my first impressions review, I called it a “powerhouse” due to how much it does and how quietly it does it.
To make that house a home though it needs to start releasing new games that will captivate audiences. Something Microsoft has been working on a lot in the last few years.
The future is bright for Xbox. If they can solve the problems with Quick Resume and add some quality new games it may be blinding.
Featured Image Credit: Microsoft
Xbox Series X provided by Microsoft.