I’ve had my hands on the Xbox One X for just over a week now. I’m not quite ready to lock in my final opinion so far, just due to the lack of new releases that are Xbox One X enhanced (at this stage), but I feel like I’ve spent enough time with the console to give solid impressions and help you decide on whether the Xbox One X is for you.
THE CONSOLE IS BEAUTIFUL
It’s honestly hard to believe just how small the Xbox One X is. In terms of design, I think this is the sleekest console to hit the market. When you compare it to the behemoth that is the original Xbox One and even the PlayStation 4 Pro, it’s quite remarkable just how small and high-end looking this little unit is. It has a noticeable weight to it, but this won’t matter too much unless you know that you’re going to be transporting your console frequently.
IT’S WHISPER QUIET
The Xbox One X is supposedly the world’s most powerful console, and that would make me think that it’s probably going to be a noisy one, but it’s whisper quiet. Compared to the PlayStation 4 Pro and most other consoles I’ve ever had in my entertainment unit, it was hard to believe just how silent this little unit is even when games are being powered in 4K.
ENHANCED GAMES ARE CLEARLY LAID OUT
One of the biggest gripes that I had with PlayStation 4 Pro at launch was the fact that enhanced games weren’t clearly defined (or when they’re upgraded, you’re not aware unless you go through and read patch notes).
I live and breathe gaming 24/7 and yet I still find it difficult to keep up with the status of enhanced games. It’s unrealistic to expect regular consumers who aren’t completely immersed in the world of live gaming news to stay updated on which games in their library are enhanced.
Thankfully, Xbox has come up with a solution that seems to work (at least momentarily). The Xbox One X sorts your games into designated categories; Xbox One / Xbox One X Enhanced / Xbox and Xbox 360 and as soon as a game in your library receives an Xbox One X update, it shifts into the Xbox One X enhanced section.
SOME FLAGSHIP ENHANCED TITLES ARE MISSING
Xbox claims that seventy games will be enhanced at launch, but I’ve been a little bit surprised with what has been available to reviewers in the last week. Until a few days ago, it was only Gears of War 4 that was enhanced. With every passing day, more and more titles have become enhanced but it’s pretty mind-blowing to think that the likes of Forza 7, Assassin’s Creed: Origins, Shadow of War and some other key titles haven’t been updated yet. Whilst I’ve played these titles at preview events and have faith that they’ll be brilliant on the One X, it has to be mentioned that they’re not currently available. You can find the full list of titles that are constantly being updated RIGHT HERE.
GEARS 4 MIGHT BE THE BEST-LOOKING CONSOLE GAME (IN 4K)
Thankfully, Xbox knew that they had an absolute gem in Gears 4. Now, don’t get me wrong, Gears 4 looked incredible at release, but this game blew my mind on the Xbox One X. With 4K resolution, HDR, dynamic shadows, enhanced light shafts and increased draw distances, this is one of the best-looking, if not the best, console games that I’ve ever played. Everything looks that little bit nicer. There are more details on all of the characters and environments, there are particles floating around that I don’t recall seeing when I played on the OG Xbox One and boy, those storms look absolutely insane.
It’s important to keep in mind that Gears 4 offers a linear gameplay experience, the game’s environments are relatively contained, unlike the expansive open-worlds offered by titles such as Assassin’s Creed: Origins and The Witcher 3. When it comes to deciding which of the Xbox One X enhanced titles looks the absolute best, I think the final outcome will be heavily influenced by this distinction.
The other game of notability is Super Lucky’s Tale. It’s a colourful, vibrant game and I can’t help but feel that it greatly benefits from Xbox One X. The colours pop and the worlds look Pixar-like. I can’t even imagine how a game like Super Mario Odyssey would look on this console (not to take away from how incredible Odyssey is).
In saying that, I think it’s important to point out that in terms of graphical fidelity, don’t expect much more (if any) of a difference than what you got with PlayStation 4 to Pro. This is not a PlayStation 2 to PlayStation 3 type jump in graphics, so don’t buy this console expecting it to completely change the way your games look.
Gears 4 lets you harness the power of Xbox One X by improving visuals (4K and improved textures) or by improving performance (60 frames per second in campaign/Horde and some minor graphical improvements). I hope that developers continue to give choice in how gamers harness power. Whilst some people might not care about the shininess of 4K resolution, they might want smoother frame rates. It’s very clear at this point that we’re still a little way off native 4K/60FPS on a console, so allowing gamers to get the most out of these units appears to be the most important thing. It’s also great when developers are transparent about exactly how they’re using the extra power. What annoys me most about the PlayStation 4 Pro/Xbox One X is the ambiguity behind the enhancements.
DOWNLOADS ARE FAST
One of the things that worried me most was the fact that I had to download these games onto my Xbox One X with Broadband internet. Games like Gears 4 that surpass 80gb and Quantum Break that is more than 100GB when you factor in the 4K texture patch. Honestly, the speeds on my Xbox One X never dropped. Whether it was thanks to the 5 GHz network compatibility, or better a wireless chip, I’ve never seen games download on a console so damn fast.
THE UI IS FASTER, BUT STILL CLUNKY
I’ve never been a massive fan of the Xbox One UI. It’s come a long, long way since day one, and the new UI, which is unified across the Xbox console family, runs way faster than I remember it running on the Xbox One, but it’s still a little bit clunky. Things can often be hard to find, and certain menus will hang or seem glitchy at times, so hopefully, Xbox continues to improve this dashboard, rather than constantly implementing new ones, as I think it’s the closest they’ve gotten to getting it right.
WHERE’S THE ELITE CONTROLLER?
This might seem quite petty, but I really think that the Xbox One X price tag would be more justified if it included an Elite Controller. The way that Xbox have marketed this premium console has led me to believe that they want this to be the go-to console for hardcore gamers, and I feel like the experience would have been improved with an Elite controller. I understand that they’re probably selling this console by breaking even (or even at a loss), but I just think that these two products would have gone perfectly together.
SHOULD YOU BUY THE XBOX ONE X?
I know that a lot of people are going to be asking whether the Xbox One X is worth the $650, and I honestly think it depends on the individual. If you’re somebody that plays your Xbox One every single day, have the compatible hardware (4K TV, etc.) and have the money to drop, then definitely look at purchasing it, but don’t expect to plug the console in and have a completely revolutionary gaming experience. In saying that, it’s a fantastic looking console that does everything more efficiently than any Xbox to come before it, so it’s hard not to recommend that somebody buy the Xbox One X based on the promise that games are going to look and run better than other consoles (which, so far, is definitely the case).
2018 for Xbox needs to be about exclusives and a diverse lineup of games. If there’s a mix of games that utilise the raw power that is within the Xbox One X, then it might just be the magical combination to take the Xbox brand to the next level.
EDITOR’S NOTE: These are not our final impressions of the Xbox One X. Whilst it’s completely possible that they might not change, we’d rather reserve final judgement until we’ve played Forza 7, Assassin’s Creed Origin’s, Shadow of War and other flagship Xbox One X enhanced titles.