On Tuesday, Microsoft will unleash the next generation of video game consoles when it releases the Xbox One X. Whether you should get one will depend on a number of factors.
But know this. You want one. It’s just a matter of priorities.
I’ll be reviewing the Xbox One X in the near future, of course. But I’d like to address this topic—of priorities—ahead of the launch, and ahead of that review. Because there’s a good chance you may want to pony up the $500 it requires to join this club. You just need to know what you’re getting into it.
I’ve never written an article in flowchart form, but I considered doing so for this one. Instead, let’s step through the decision-making tree in a more linear—and textual—fashion.
So it goes something like this.
First, and most important, if you don’t have a 4K/UHD display, don’t bother.
Yes, the Xbox One X improves existing Xbox One and Xbox 360 games in subtle ways on a Full HD (1080p) HDTV or display, but it’s not worth upgrading your console for those differences. Microsoft cites faster load times and, more important, the graphical advantages of “supersampling”—where the console “down-rezzes” games written to 4K resolutions so that they look better at 1080p—as key reasons to think otherwise. But the performance differences are minimal, in my experience: The load times in games like Forza 7 Motorsport are still glacial, for example. And while those graphical niceties are very real, taking advantage of them requires you to a) actually own games that are written to higher resolutions and b) to take up the additional disk space they require by downloading the 4K assets.
And then there’s HDR: Xbox One X Enhanced titles that do support HDR—e.g. high dynamic range—will just look better if your display supports HDR. What’s interesting here is that HDR isn’t a “feature” of 4K/UHD, meaning that you may have a 1080p or 1440p display that supports HDR too. Should you get an Xbox One X if you have a non-4K/UHD display that supports HDR?
That’s a tough one, mostly because I don’t own such a set and can’t offer an educated opinion here. But my advice is logical enough: Look at the games you own already or will own this holiday season, see which have been enhanced (or will be) for Xbox One X, and then check to see whether HDR support is part of that update. (It doesn’t have to be.) If enough of the games you’re really going to play support HDR, this could be a vote in the Xbox One X’s favor. Otherwise, remember that Xbox One X fully supports HDR outside of games. (Meaning in streaming video services like Netflix and on Blu-Ray 4K/UHD/HDR discs.)
That said, if you’re in the market for a 4K/UHD display, do yourself a favor and make sure it supports HDR. The brighter, more vibrant color display will blow your socks off. Or, your eyeballs. Or something. It’s amazing.
The Xbox One X also supports Dolby Atmos and DTS:X spacial sound technologies. If you can connect the console to a compatible sound system, you’re going to have the most immersive gaming experience imaginable. I’ve only just barely experienced this, and it’s worth pointing out that Windows 10 gamers can get a virtual Atmos experience with headphones that is worth checking out too.
If the $500 price tag is just too much—and I hear you on that one—just wait: Xbox One X will be less expensive a year or more in the future, maybe much less, and you can still enjoy all your Xbox One games—plus a ton of Xbox 360 games and a few from the original Xbox—on your existing Xbox One or Xbox One S today. The Xbox One S, in particular, is a steal: You can choose from any number of low-cost bundles right now and throughout the holidays, getting one or more free games in the process. And those games, and all your peripherals, will move forward with you when you do decide to upgrade.
And that’s the thing. The real question here isn’t whether or not you should upgrade to the Xbox One X, because you should. It’s when you should upgrade. And that will depend on your personal situation. Cost be damned, those with 4K/UHD/HDR sets should jump right now. Those without should think about that upgrade first. And those who haven’t yet joined the Xbox One generation—shame on you!—have tons of options, and can get in right now very cheaply with the Xbox One S.
Ultimately, no path forward is a bad decision. Unless, of course, you were banking on Sony to lead us to the 4K future.
Tagged with Xbox One X