Xbox Series X – The First 24

Posted on November 12, 2020 by Brad Sams in Brad, Games, Xbox, Xbox Series S with 10 Comments

When it comes to Xbox, I have been writing obsessively about the Scarlett family of devices that we now call the Xbox Series X and S. It started with Phil Spencer confirming the Scarlett name back in June of 2018 but as of today, the pre-release coverage has officially come to an end.

I have been using the Series X for 24 hrs and wanted to put a few thoughts to paper as I won’t be doing a comprehensive review, you should go read what Paul has written, but we both approach things slightly differently and cataloging changes over the lifecycle of a console is important.

Microsoft approached this console differently than it had done in the past but that is thanks to improvements in technology, connectivity, and an evolving business model. Rather than having a completely unique experience with the release of the Series X/S, while the physical console appearance is different, the UI, controller, and gaming experience is nearly identical to the last generation.

That’s a big risk as many seasoned gamers are accustomed to new ‘magical’ experiences (Kinect, Wii, etc) when they buy a new console but that’s not the situation here. Candidly, it’s a little bit boring as you plug in the console, turn it on, experience the new boot animation, and then it’s the same dashboard that you either love or despise.

Sure, the new dynamic background is a good update but it’s a bit undersold at the moment and we need a much larger gallery to chose from. And the fact that the dashboard is 1080P upscaled and not using HDR, is a bit annoying.

Why? The LG C9 that I bought specifically for this console can support all the features the Series X offers but when you go from the dashboard to a game, my TV pops the “instant game response” “HDR-enabled” and other notifications that trip when the game/device supports a specific feature.

Yes this is a minor complaint and I need to see if I can turn those notifications off but for now, when you jump from games back to the dashboard to back into a game, the notifications show up far too often – make the dashboard native 4k and HDR, please!

Launch content is anemic – no other way to describe it; I joked that I didn’t buy a new iPhone (I have a 10S) because I would spend $1000 to open the same three apps. Well, I just bought a $500 console to play the same games – granted, I will be buying Black Ops Cold War tomorrow that should give me one game to play but I could also play that one on the One X but at a lower framerate and resolution.

The other aspects that have been hammered home are the speed and performance being fantastic – everything boots quickly, launches fastly, and is a lovely experience – yes I know fastly isn’t a word but it makes the sentence better.

What is left off the discussion is that games don’t make the best use of this right now. What do I mean? Launching games still makes you observe the dumb publisher, developer, producer, audio company, food trucks parked outside on the third Tuesday of each month’s, logo – you get the idea, those forced splash screens are still there and a faster console does not remove this annoyance. But with quick resume, for games that will support it, this should make the process much better when those titles arrive.

There is one odd hiccup in performance so far is that if you change your recording functionality to capture 4k HDR clips when hitting the share button, on my device, the audio cuts out on my headset while it’s trying to process the clip. This only lasts for about 15 seconds or so, but it is a scratchy audio experience that is a bit annoying for ‘the most powerful console’ of this generation. I do suspect that this will be resolved via software updates but for now, it’s a minor gripe.

While my device is not impacted, there are others who are having issues with the disc drive making a clicking noise when being used. I believe the Xbox One had a similar issue at launch and if yours is making this noise, you should contact support for a replacement – also, don’t blow vape smoke into your console.

It’s still far too early to truly judge the box but it is a significant jump forward when compared to the Xbox One that launched in 2013 when it comes to performance. And that’s the minimum benchmark, this console needs to last around 7 years and anything less than ‘really dang fast’ would be unacceptable. But early indications that this console should stand the test of time from a performance perspective but now we need the software and games to catch up to the hardware’s capabilities – it feels like a Ferrari with snow tires on it.

 

 

 

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Comments (10)

10 responses to “Xbox Series X – The First 24”

  1. madthinus

    All you said is a fair assessment. So wished their was a showcase app / minigame / benchmark to showcase what is possible with this hardware.

    • rossdelliott

      In reply to madthinus:
      Agreed, some short little tech demo showcasing audio and graphical improvements might have made me feel better about my purchase. As it is, I'm playing the same games I would've been playing on my "old" Xbox One X, they just load a little faster and maybe, MAYBE look a little better (though for the most part, for me, it's hard to tell if they're using ray-tracing or other advanced graphical capabilities)


  2. LT1 Z51

    I love the speeds. Forza 7 is now supremely playable. No more waiting for tracks to load. I've had at least Forza Horizon 3, Forza 7, and Forza Horizon 4 on quick resume. I'll test it again when I go back upstairs (it's saved quick resume over power cycles, like hibernating on your PC which is awesome).

  3. guygamer

    I feel the same annoyances you talk about there. The low res UI and the low res artwork on tiles etc really bothers my eyes. I'm also running the LG C9 and the Instant Game Response banners are driving me mad too. It's just crazy that they have a machine this powerful and won't have a 4K HDR UI. I mean heck the UI on my PS4 Pro isn't my favourite to use but damn the art quality and the 4K res blow this "next gen" console out of the water.


    Some have argued MS are keeping the res at 1080p to save resources for games or simplify development. I call shenanigans on that claim. If that were true they would have added dynamic backgrounds and with Smart Delivery it should be no big deal to simply push higher res assets with the Scarlett build of the OS. Real own goal by Microsoft for me. At least having the UI in shiny 4K HDR would've given the illusion that this is an exciting new generation.

  4. will

    I think all new console launches are like this when the current games really do not take advantage of the device and it usually around a year later when we start to see what the console can do. I for one and very glad we are at a point that Xbox consoles are backwards compatible with pretty much everything from 360 forward.


    I would guess that in 2-3 years we will see a "gen 2" of this device. New form factor, increased storage, and maybe some spec bumps like they did with the One X. It will still run everything and work like the Series X, just a little faster and in a new form factor. A mid-cycle refresh if you will.

  5. jaredthegeek

    I am playing Mass Effect 2 right now so I really can not fathom buying a new console for at least the revision of this one. There are too few next gen games available, nothing that compelling for me. Maybe for Cyberpunk 2077 whenever that arrives. I really appreciate your coverage.

  6. sammyg

    The dash board not in 4K....umm Ok I guess? I had not really noticed. Other than that it seems snappier than my Xbox One X by a tiny bit.


    I play at 1440p/120hz/VRR/HDR on a 27inch IPS gaming monitor, the same monitor I used for my X1X. There is no jumping around telling I am changing resolutions or whatever, must be a TV thing.


    Since its on a desk with room, it was really quick swap. All of my games were on a 2TB USB Samsung SSD, so they were ready to go quickly, just moved the drive over. Forza 4 got and update, which re-installed the whole game on the internal drive because its "enhanced" for this console and has to be on the internal drive. I actually had two copies of the game and I ended up deleting the copy on my external drive.


    The only new game I have is AC Valhalla and its "Enhanced" for this console, or so they say. My 19 year old daughter was gifted my X1X, replacing her X1S and we game share. We checked out AC Valhalla on both consoles and yes you can tell the difference in lighting and things like water and such. We use the same monitor so she is getting 4K supersampled down to 1440p at 30fps and I am getting 4K supersampled down to 1440p 60fps. The game still looks great on the X1X but its just that much better in every way on the XSX.


    Other than that, I have tried out the same old games. COD MW, BFV, Division 2, AC Odyssey and a few others. I do notice a difference in all of them. They all load faster and play smoother. BFV is like a new game it moves so much faster. Maybe its finally staying past 48fps to finally kick in the VRR/FreeSync on my monitor and that is the smoothness difference?


    What the XSX does for me is allows me to get rid of my gaming PC. I played some flight sim games on it (DCS) which I no longer play (too time consuming) and had a few of the same console games like COD MW, Ghost Recon, and BFV. Its a nice gaming PC, 8700K, 2070 Super, 32gig of RAM, NVME drives etc. However I feel like the XSX is every bit as fast as my gaming PC and so I have reached the level of "good enough for me". Yes I could drop a 3070 or 3080 in that PC, when I could finally buy one, probably at a higher cost that the XSX but for me it would be diminishing returns and frankly I am just tired of managing a gaming PC, drivers, discord, many game software managers (steam, epic, origin, ubisoft, blizzar etc) Windows, cheaters, empty servers in MP games after 6 months etc. The XSX is just as powerful and 10x easier to reach my goal...gaming.

  7. RonV42

    Ori looks and plays incredible on the Series X. Spent two hours playing it last night and really fluid timing my jumps and moves were never better. Fallout 76 (yes Fallout 76) fast travel is so short now I don't have time to take a bio break and the issue with large team events of 8 or more the frame rate drops seem to be gone. Resident Evil 7 never has been better. Going to be doing a lot of horror games this weekend can't wait for the experience.

  8. IanYates82

    Good article - my pre-ordered X comes in another week or so.


    Really keen to hear you or Paul try out these two things from last-gen to current-gen console

    • copy games to USB HDD from the XB One and then plug that in to the Series S|X. I assume that "just works"
    • If the game has an 'optimised for S|X ' variant, can that still play from the USB HDD on the S|X, or does it insist you transfer it to the internal SSD and then download the new assets via smart delivery
    • Use the network transfer feature to copy between xboxes on the same network. It's not on by default but I saw it as an option in the settings menu the other day. I imagine this could help avoid some of the massive content downloads on the S|X if you already have the game on your One.

    Thanks!

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