I was very fortunate to have been able to pre-order an Xbox Series X from the Microsoft Store in Australia and have it delivered; one day later than the release date but I was not too fussed about that (thanks DHL by the way). Now that I have spent some time with the Xbox Series X I have some impressions that I would like to share and maybe if you are considering in picking up a next-generation (or current generation now I guess) console I can help in some way.
Black, dense, matte and unassuming
If there are several adjectives that I would use to describe the Xbox Series X, I would say the console is matte, black, dense, and unassuming. Microsoft has basically created the most “boring” and unassuming console I can remember to date; and that is not a bad thing either. The Xbox Series X sits on the top right of my TV entertainment unit and really it is nothing too flashy or eye catching. There are no flashing lights or other effects – the only light you will see is the Xbox logo power button on the front of the console.
When you take the Xbox Series X out of the box you will notice one thing very quickly, it is a heavy console. Microsoft must have packed everything in there very neatly and in a way to save as much space as possible but also ensure that there is enough airflow so the console will not overheat. The console is just a solid rectangular prism. None of which is a bad thing. The console feels very premium and for the price the expectations are set and met.
Originally I had the console laying horizontally but the base does not come off and it looks a little weird in my opinion as the base is one large circular dish. I wish that Microsoft allowed the base to be removed if the console was laying down because it does look a little weird. So now I have the console sitting vertically like much of the marketing material showing the Xbox Series X. The entire top of the console is one massive vent with small circular holes too. If you look at the top of the console from different angles you will find a green color outlining the inner perimeter of the circular vent holes; nice touch.
The black color and matte finish is great if you do not mind having fingerprints on the console if you continually touch it; so I say set it and forget it. I am happy it is not any other flashy color or white as it would look a little odd next to all my other black electronic devices in my entertainment unit. Overall aesthetically I feel the console is perfect for me; it is not trying to do too much, it sits there doing what it is supposed to do and nothing more. Microsoft has done a great job in creating something that will just blend in the background.
Fantastic performance across the board for old and new
During the couple of weeks I have been playing games on the Xbox Series X I have noticed that all the games look amazing, load extremely fast and play very well. One of the first games that I did try was Gears Tactics which is optimized for Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S. With the game installed on the internal solid state drive it loads insanely quick and it looks amazing. I never noticed any graphical issues, pop in or other framerate issues when playing the game; the Xbox Series X handled that game really well. I did have the game crash on me once when I reloaded from a checkpoint but it never happened again so :shrug:
I have also been playing Apex Legends with my friends and that too loads and plays well with little to no issue. The game has not been “upgraded” for the new consoles as far as I know so that is saying something on the upscaling and performance bump the console provides naturally with its raw power. Two other games that were also not optimized that I played were Resident Evil 3 and Doom Eternal. Both of which I may add were installed on the external hard drive I have attached to my Xbox Series X. Again I found no framerate or graphical issues in either game, plus even loading from the external hard drive I felt was fairly quick. Doom Eternal I would like to point out in particular played buttery smooth and looked absolutely amazing; kudos to the developers.
Recently Vermintide 2 got an update to be optimized for Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S. Previously the game took a very long time to load and played in what felt like 30 fps with some harsh dips in frames when there was a large number of enemies on the screen. With the update however the framerate looks to have been bumped up, the game loads insanely fast and there is no framerate dips when the action picks up. So older games when updated play significantly better and if they are not optimized still benefit from small boosts in performance from what I can tell. Again Microsoft has gone above and beyond in ensuring that old games play better and new games play great.
I did test out Destiny 2 because that game on my Xbox One X took forever to load and would only play at 30 fps. When installed on the external hard drive the loading time is faster on the Xbox Series X than on the Xbox One X but there is no framerate improvement unfortunately. If you do move the game to the internal solid state drive then you get an even greater crazy increase in loading performance but again no framerate improvement, so I’ll need to wait for Bungie to optimize the game for the Xbox Series X. I look forward to that.
Overall, no matter if the game is old or new, Microsoft has found a way to squeeze some form of performance improvement being either faster loading or better framerate. With no true Xbox Series X exclusives out that I am interested in playing at the moment (or am aware of) and allowing older games to just perform better on the new console is a massive bonus. If you want to play the best Xbox versions of current games released then you should consider picking up the Xbox Series X; however if you are waiting for a killer game like Halo Infinite then wait for a bundle as I feel like the Xbox One X is more than capable of playing anything out now just not as good as the Xbox Series X.
Along with playing games very well it does so super quietly too. I can barely even hear the Xbox Series X when I am playing games. Sometimes I have even gone up to the console just to see if I can hear the fan spinning. There was no game that I played that caused me to actually hear the fan or console making any noticeable sound. Along with it being whisper quiet the console does gives off a good amount of heat from the top vent. This is to be expected as the top vent acts much like an exhaust. Is it very hot? No not really, but there is a good increase in ambient temperature increase around the top vent. Would it cause the room to get very hot like some “journalists” have noted – no and it also will not cause any discomfort to your hand if you leave it on the vent for a period of time. I am not too concerned about the amount of heat the console emits as it looks to be putting out the heat instead of keeping it inside the console. Only time will tell if there will be another red ring of death scenario and fingers crossed there will not be.
Quick resume and Xbox Game Pass
If you are like me and play two or three games at a time then hopping between games can be a pain. I could be playing Control and then be invited to an Apex Legends or Gears 5 online match. Saving one game and then loading the new game on the Xbox One X could take a long time depending on where I am in the first game as saving or finding a checkpoint is not always possible so quickly. But with quick resume I do not need to worry about that anymore. I have not experienced any game that I have played at the moment that has had issues in loading quickly with quick resume or failing to load with quick resume. I can turn the console off and then the next night I can boot it back up and pick up the game right where I left off; no menu loading or game save loading. I can jump between games and it takes at most 10 seconds compared to the several minutes it would take previously. I do not know how Microsoft has done this but it is fantastic.
Microsoft has bet big on Xbox Game Pass and I love it. From Doom Eternal to Control; paying full price for games is now a distant memory. If you are in the Xbox and Windows ecosystem then it makes the most sense to pick up Xbox Game Pass and if you have a PC then having Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is the best option out there. I would never have picked up Crusader Kings 3 but with it being on Xbox Game Pass on PC I gave it a whirl. So while there is no killer exclusive you benefit so much from trying the buffet that is the games on offer with Xbox Game Pass. There really is something for everyone. This is one offering that is available for both previous generation and current generation of Xbox consoles though but I am mentioning it here as there are a good number of optimized games on Xbox Game Pass for the Xbox Series X.
Overall it has been very pleasant
I tip my hat off to Microsoft. From a pleasant aesthetic that does nothing special but does everything right to the great performance in loading and framerate, I am super happy with my day one purchase. I have friends who are still waiting to receive theirs and when I tell them how great the console is performing they are getting more eager and excited to get their own console. I hope you console comes in soon Logan.
Would I recommend the console? Yes with some catches. If you absolutely must have the latest and greatest Xbox console then you would have pre-ordered or have already considered picking the console up when it is available to be purchased again or there is new stock. The Xbox Series X does everything the Xbox One X does but better and with some nice tricks up its sleeve like quick resume. You can wait for a killer game to come out before you pick up the Xbox Series X and you will not really be missing out on anything.
Again if you are in no rush then wait for a small price drop or bundle with a game that you are truly waiting on. Microsoft has done an amazing job in crafting a console that does everything great but in 2020 there is nothing forcing you or screaming out that says you must pick up the new Xbox Series X. If you are on the fence I say wait and save your money but if you want to play the games out now in the best way then what are you waiting for pick up the console.