Xbox fans gather up! Or really anyone who loves games and great consoles should pay attention, because the Xbox Series X is an amazing console that’s meant for anyone who loves being a gamer. It has an understated but trustworthy design, and prefers to be more simplistic about it’s approach than how Sony’s handling the PS5. But in its simplicity is a focus on gaming that almost every gamer will love, and once you check out the reviews we spent time looking at, you’ll see why.
Now if you’ve been reading our coverage for these new consoles, you’ll know that we’ve essentially covered the Series X to death. And that’s not actually our fault, it’s Microsoft’s! The Series X was unveiled last year at the 2019 Game Awards and Microsoft’s been essentially parading the console for this whole year, essentially making it the face of next-gen gaming up until Sony finally revealed the PS5 a few months ago. And while Sony fans will likely say the PS5 then stole the Series X’s thunder after that, we reckon they’re wrong, because while the PS5 is definitely riding on the success of the PS4 to go boldly into a new generation, the Series X is taking the best things from the Xbox One, and in some ways the PS4 , and forging them with Microsoft’s leaps forward in software and cloud streaming to create something that’s honestly promising an awesome ride in the next generation of gaming.
Now let’s talk about that design a bit more, now I’ve already talked about the simplistic design of the Series X, but to be fair, it’s only really simplistic compared to the PS5, otherwise for most people, this looks like a mini gaming PC that’s been compared to a fridge for jokes in the past, but it is a lot smaller than the PS5, and as long as it’s standing vertically, likely easier to fit in your current TV/entertainment setup. However neither this or the PS5 are winning style awards for me. That honor goes to the smaller Series S, which honestly nails the white and black color scheme while combining it with the ore simplistic design of the Series X.
Then there’s power. Look, on paper, the Series X is simply more powerful than the PS5, it’s 12 Terraflops beast out the PS5’s 10.8 Terraflops, even if this will only really be seen in practice based on how good the games for this system look and perform. What you will notice immediately is the Series X’s SSD being bigger than the PS5 ,and of course that definitely helps with storing more games in an era where games are reaching + 100GB in size. The 1TB SSD in this console gives you about 800GB to play with as soon as you turn it on, which definitely is a step up form the PS5 offering around 600GB from it’s 825GB drive. Both consoles offer expansion options, with the Xbox’s memory card-like 1TB expansion cards being a feat of engineering , but also being way too expensive at $220 at the moment. Hopefully this changes soon with cheaper options coming up, but for now, you will definitely need to keep an eye on your storage indicator.
Then there’s the Series X’s UI or operating system. Now let’s be clear, usually this isn’t too big of a focus for me, but as the line between console, smartphone and PC begins to blur, this becomes more and more relevant to this day. Now here’s the kicker, it’s almost exactly the same as the latest Xbox One UI update. Annoyed, yeah some people are too. But to put it in perspective, this is also partially why I said this console is like a PC, because chances are if you upgrade your Windows PC today, you still get another PC along with Windows. Even Steam or the Microsoft Store will look the same, but you’ll see the benefits of the new PC in speed, power, and of course the games you’ll play. This is basically the same case here, as the Series X is essentially in many ways a bigger, badder Xbox One X, including in it’s UI. However we did say there are some differences, and the biggest new feature is definitely Quick Resume. In case you haven’t figured what that is yet, well you know how you multitask apps on your PC or smartphone? As in you open a Word next to your browser and just switch between the two? Well imagine being able to do that with up to 5 or 6 games, essentially switching between the games within 5-10 seconds, and going back to exactly where you left that game. As in the exact moment you paused. No main menu , no loading up a save, nothing. It’s almost magical, and it shows that the upgrades here may be more under-the-hood, but they’re definitely huge.
Now let’s finally talk bout games, because that’s where this console both shies and shows its Achilles heel. To put it simply, the Series X like the PS5 doesn’t have too many new games to play with at release, meaning you have to rely on a lot of Xbox One games instead . Now, unlike the PS5, the Series X has more games optimized for it from the previous generation, meaning they take more advantage of the new hardware and architecture showing you exactly why you bought this new machine. However, this advantage also comes from the fact that for the next two years or so, most Xbox Series X games will also be available for the Xbox One consoles. Simply put, there’s no Series X exclusives. This is all because of Microsoft’s push to turn Xbox not into a product but a multi device platform instead, encompassing the new Series X and S , the Xbox One console (for now), the PC, and even smartphones through gamestreaming. Microsoft wants you to play the games you want on whatever device you have, and of course this requires subscribing to their services like GamePass and XCloud, which makes them keep getting a buck even if you play on a PS5 when you’re not on your PC or phone. It’s honestly a genius move, and we can’t talk enough about how it’s (at least for western countries) an indicator of the future of gaming, but for now it’s also a pretty big weakness for the Series X. You see while the PS5 has at least Spiderman: Miles Morales, the sleeper hit Astro’s Playroom and the middling Godfall to set it apart as “new” and “unique”, the Series X doesn’t really have a game for that, it will at some point, maybe after a year or two, but it’s definitely lacking a little in any shiny new games to play with that won’t also be on the Xbox One or the PC. Even the launch exclusive title, Halo: Infinite, which has been delayed is also coming to PC and Xbox One, meaning anyone with either of the 2 won’t feel the biggest need to upgrade simply because of games.
And thus that’s when the whole dilemma of the Series X comes into play, it’s an amazing console that might be better in every way to the PS5, but lacks any games to really show it. Now of course that might change soon, but it obviously leaves gamers in a tougher spot, especially when Sony essentially revels in console exclusive games. However it comes down to this: if you want (and can somehow afford) an awesome console that plays great games and is likely to bring a lot of crazier surprises (such as Microsoft’s upcoming Fable, Forza and Bethesda owned games) in the next two years or so, then the Series X is arguably the best deal you can get for a game console right now , just as long as exclusive games aren’t at the top of your list.