Also, we’ll need to overview the difference between Microsoft’s new-gen options. That means we have to see what all of the technical jargon means.
The Series X lineup is available in 37 countries, including The United States, Canada, New Zealand, and the UK. In some of these countries (like the USA), you could only buy the console online.
For context, here’s how Microsoft describes the consoles:
“Experience the thrill of gaming at 120 frames per second, with faster loading times, richer, more dynamic worlds and much more on Xbox Series X, our fastest most powerful console ever, and Xbox Series S, delivering next-generation performance at an affordable price in the smallest Xbox ever. Plus, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate membership on console now includes EA Play.” – Xbox Blog
And here’s the original poster:
Xbox Series launch impressions – X
Some YouTubers, video-game journalist, and streamers got their hands on the Series X/S a couple of weeks ago.
Customers who were able to pre-order the consoles are now proud owners of the lineup as well.
That said, we’ve got some first impression on the consoles.
Power & performance
The Xbox Series X works as intended. Microsoft seems to be delivering what they promised. It’s a massive tower with intimidating power, capable of reproducing games at 4K/60fps and moderate ray tracing features.
Rather than smooth 60fps all the time, some titles binge around 55fps during more massive action set pieces
Playing some games on 60fps is a huge difference over the Xbox One (and the PS4, for that matter). Moreover, some games have the option of playing in 120fps (Performance Mode).
Also, I must note the Xbox Series carries HDR plus Dolby Vision features. Given that you have the correct TV, the console can truly improve the image with a better contrast ratio and sharper images.
As a context, I must share that the Xbox Series X can run Assasin’s Creed: Valhalla on dynamic 4K resolution, 60fps, and moderate ray tracing. It could run at native 2K as well.
Visually, the Xbox Series X makes every game look gorgeous, even older titles. It higher frame rates, better and faster rendering, ray tracing, and overall better graphical fidelity.
However, there’re still no true next-gen titles for the console.
Microsoft has improved some older games, so they take more advantage of the new hardware.
New Xbox Series X games are also Optimized for the console. If you read those words on the box, it means the game will boot faster, run smoother, and look better.
For example, Halo:
“Halo: The Master Chief Collection has also been optimized and will boost all Halo games to run at 4K 120FPS on the system, along with improved split-screen play and FOV sliders for the most immersive Halo experience yet” – Xbox blog.
Or Gears of Wars 5, re-releasing with a new-gen patch that includes a new playable character:
Speed and load times
With the addition of a custom SDD drive and Xbox’s proprietary Velocity Architecture, the Xbox Series lineup presents a massive upgrade over its predecessor.
The SSD also boasts a stellar performance. Load times are, at least, three times as fast as the Xbox One. Even booting the console and going into a game from scratch can take you about 22 seconds.
If you’re running old-gen gems on the internal SDD or external SDD, they will also run fast, even if they are not “Optimized.”
That said, the available storage after the OS is about 825GB, but that’s even worse on the Xbox Series S: It may not be enough for many people.
The external, custom SDD also works as intended. You can plug it into the back of the console, and it’s ready. You don’t need any tools.
Microsoft recommends only installing new-gen games and optimized titles on the SDD drives, though.
In comparison, the PlayStation 5 is not currently supporting external SDDs.
You also have the option of plugging an HDD USB or an external HDD drive. You can use it to store old-gen games or titles you’re not playing.
Remember, you can’t run Xbox Series X games on the HDD. However, old-gen games running on the HDD will still run a bit faster. The rest of the new features (auto-HDR, better frame rates, and such) remain the same.
Lastly, transferring data from one drive to another is fast. For example, taking 100GB of data from an HDD towards either the internal or external SDD could take about 10 minutes.
Microsoft’s exclusive lineup is a thing of the future. They are working alongside prestigious studios like Bethesda, 303, InExile, Rare, Obsidian, or Arkane for their future offers.
If you’re curious about what they are working on, we compiled a list of some of the best games without a release date. Most are coming from Microsoft’s partners.
That said, it might be too little too late. The Xbox Series launched without any heavy-hitters exclusives.
Also, you must remember that there won’t be “Xbox Exclusives.” All Xbox Games will be available for PC, while not all PC games will be available for Xbox (like the Age of Empires series).
Be that as it may, there’s still plenty to play on the Xbox.
If you consider the compatibility features of the console, the “launch titles” are endless. It’s great for people who already own many Xbox games.
Right now, the Xbox Series has the most extensive video game library of any console in history.
You can download or insert the disc of any Xbox games, even the original Xbox. The original console will play them with ultra-fast load times, HDR-enhanced graphics (auto, and 60/120fps).
The console is also able to increase the native resolution of older Xbox titles. So, for example, a 720p experience can become a 1440p game instead.
There’s one thing you should keep in mind, though. The Xbox Series S doesn’t run Xbox One X-enhanced games.
I bet Microsoft was expecting Halo Infinite to be the launch title. That’s why Master Chief comes in every Xbox box. Yet, Halo Infinite is releasing in mid-2021.
In reality, though, there are no heavy-hitters at launch for the Xbox Series consoles. Such is the Aquiles Heel of the lineup.
Currently, the only exclusive option for the Xbox is Tetris: Connected. Here’s a Tetris video Xbox published on November 10th:
Value & price
The Xbox Series X has a $499 MSRVP. You could find that price on US retailers, but the number may increase in other countries. Moreover, the pandemic stock is no better than the Nvidia RTX 30 series GPUs’ availability.
Be it as it may, the value is par-to-none. We’re talking about 825GB SDD storage that runs games at 4K/60fps-120fps. It has wide retro-compatibility, functions as an entertainment hub, and packs top-value bundles.
We’ve talked about the Xbox Game Pass extensively on the site. We must commend it for the number of high-quality games it packs. The selection includes over 150 games.
Some of the highlights are Doom Eternal, The Elder Scrolls Online, Fallout 76, Fallout 4, The Outer Worlds, Ori and the Blind Forest, Microsoft Flight Simulator, Minecraft, or Minecraft Dungeon. Most of those games are best-sellers.
Also, Microsoft is adding a month of Disney + subscription to the Ultimate service. Moreover, they added EA Play games on November 10 as part of the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate.
Xbox All Access
Another option you get is financing the console with Microsoft. That, of course, only works if you have an available credit card.
For example, you could be paying $24 a month for two years for the bigger version. I believe it’s the best gaming deal there is right now. It’s good for customers, as it brings both the console and many games per month, and it’s good for the company, as customers would be marrying the Xbox for two years.
Overall, Xbox services are only growing.
In typical gaming-console fashion, the Xbox Series X also works as an entertainment hub. It has a Blue-Ray disc-tray for your favorite movies and shows. Moreover, you can download most TV and music streaming apps from the Microsoft store.
Aside from that, it carries HDR, Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos Digital 5.1 sound, Dolby TrueHD Atmos sound, Windows Sonic compatibility, and DTS 5.1 sound.
Here’s a table showcasing the features of both consoles:
Xbox Series launch impressions: Series S
Microsoft hauled the Series S as a 1440p/1080p edition of the Series X. As per the company’s words, the Series S targets 1440p/60fps performance.
Let’s see how it translates but, first, take a look at the specs of both consoles
The budget option
The real-life performance differences between Series S and Series X rely on target resolution, storage, and design. Also, Series S has no disc-tray.
The reason is, of course, that the Xbox Series S has a $299 MSRVP. Reaching such a price level must have been very hard without compromising new-gen performance.
The first striking difference is the design. Series S is the smallest Xbox ever, with about 60% the size of its bigger brother.
Either way, you can also place the console vertically or horizontally. Unlike the top-mounted fan of the Series X, the S version has its fan at the front.
Moreover, both the console and the controllers ship in “Robot White.”
As I said, Microsoft promised 1440p/60fps performance. In truth, though, it seems like it’s the cap is 1080p.
You’d be wrong to think that’s a sign of how it will behave on other more graphically intensive games.
For example, here’s a demo by IGN. They ran Doom Eternal, Forza Horizon, Gears of War 5, Yakuza: Like A Dragon, and The Outer Worlds on gorgeous 1440p.
The other difference between the two console versions is the storage. The Series X ships with 1TB SDD that turns into 825GB. The Series S ships with 512GB SDD that turns into 364GB.
Accessories, temperatures, and noise
We’re not going into the jargon here, but you need to know both consoles are almost noiseless and cool. With design choices like a split motherboard and a whisper-quiet fan, the console behaves as it should.
There’s one last point we need to review that has to do with the accessories. Both consoles ship with the new Xbox controller, a high-speed HDMI cable, plus a type-C USB cable to charge the controller.
Overall, the peripheral feels more ergonomic and of better quality than the Xbox One. Besides, Series X/S consoles are compatible with Xbox One peripherals.
There’s one new addition on the controller, though. It now has a share button at the center that allows you to capture photos and record videos. Then, the system uploads the content to the Xbox Live, ready to publish.
Take a look at the Xbox Series demo video that showcases these functions:
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As always, you should check various reviews and demos before you buy expensive gear.
My take is the Xbox Series S is a great deal, even if it doesn’t reach 1440p on all games. Otherwise, the Xbox Series X is indeed the most powerful and fastest console in the market. You could buy it through the Xbox All Access service to ease its price.
Currently, though, the lineup is missing the heavy hitters. There’s no Demon’s Souls Remake here. Unless you genuinely want an upgrade for your current Xbox games library, there’s no reason to buy it yet.
My best advice is to wait until there’s something you’d want to play, like Halo. Also, the Series S is looking like the perfect console for casual gaming and kids.
So, overall, I see the Xbox Series lineup lives to Microsoft’s promise. Both machines are engineering marvels. As such, they are difficult to replicate on PC, especially given their price points.