Games

Xbox Series X Review – A Personal Look at Next-Gen

A console launch for a gamer is a day which used to mean queuing outside your local game store, spending loads of money, trading in your old system and well a day of excitement.

I can actually recall a few launch systems, the original Xbox, the Xbox 360, Nintendo Gamecube, Nintendo Wii, the original PlayStation, and the PlayStation 2. I remember each console launch would equal HUGE queues outside my GAME store, with plenty of games to choose from when it came to launching titles. OK, they might not have been the best launch titles in the world, case and fact Red Steel on Wii and Perfect Dark Zero on the Xbox 360, but it did have some not have rehashed re-releases and demos.

Personally, I prefer to sell the new systems rather than purchase, apart from a new Nintendo console, I would be one of those staff that would reserve a console once they arrived through the door.

It did not matter which system was released, Nintendo, Xbox, Sony, gamers and parents would pour in through the door at Midnight, first thing in the morning and throughout the day. GAME stores were literally packed and well-stocked when it came to a console launch. 2020, the Xbox Series X|S arrives and the new PlayStation 5, but, stock within stores, limited, very limited, queues, what queues? There were none. The excitement was more online, within stores like GAME, it was almost like any other day.

The only way to truly get a brand-new next-gen system was to pre-order and hope that you ordered it early enough to be one of the lucky ones to get it on launch day, otherwise you could end up waiting for the next delivery of next-gen systems. Trying to get your hands on a system on launch day anywhere, was impossible and for me, a gamer, that loves the feeling you get when a system gets released, seeing gamers bouncing and talking outside retail stores, well it is upsetting to not see this happen.

Then we get to games and Xbox falls flat, with NO exclusives for the launch, just upgraded versions of already released games. Sony with their PS5 only had Astro’s Playroom (exclusive). Demon Souls is a remake of the 2009 version of the game, Godfall is out on PC, Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Sackboy: A Big Adventure are out on PS4 and just got a visual upgrade. Both systems fall flat when it came to exclusive launch games to show off their new consoles, which is a missed opportunity for game developers to get their fill of a launch console.

However, even with all this, the consoles still had their launch, and we at Invision Game Community are one of the lucky few to get our hands on a FREE Xbox Series X directly from Xbox. With this in mind we decided to review the system, it is our primary function as a site after all. But before we do, a message I wish to put out there.

When I started IGC, I did not know how to build a site, WordPress webpage or much at all, I went into blind, with only what I was learning while at University. Over the years the site has changed, upgraded, altered, SEO added. Some security features were also added and I became a rather stressed out owner. Not only did I stress out, but I also suffered from major anxiety and loss, due to my little girl ésme passing away at only 8 weeks (SIDS). Alison Jones, a good friend, stepped in to post the news under my account then over time she took over and now has her own. If it was not for good friends, loyal volunteers, great PR acquaintances… I really do not know where IGC would be today.

 

So I wish to put a massive thanks out there to all the PR people that have supported Invision throughout the years. Thank you to all the game companies that create the amazing games we enjoy playing from Indie to AAA. To all the volunteers that have worked with us throughout years, Tom, Jimmy D, Phil D, Amy J, Chris H, Joshua M, Laurence S, Chris C (fullsync.co.uk), Nathan O’ G, Benjamin, Sahil L, Lynley J, Aidan, Adam L, Andrew L, Brady R, Craig E, Alex G, Charlotte, Mathew T, Aaron, Daniel J, Lewis H, Meabh L, Tacita F, Nathan M, Joe R, Rita S, Gareth E and many more. Thank you! And thank you to you guys too, our dear readers. We hope to keep bringing you more news as we continue to grow our little community.

Now on with the review of the Xbox Series X, and let’s POWER YOUR DREAMS

This is my first EVER console that has not been from Nintendo, why? Well, I have a high-end PC and consoles have always been a step behind when it comes to graphical fidelity and games. There is also the EXCLUSIVE, games that I personally want to play which only seem to come from Nintendo. All other games I have not really cared about.

This generation of consoles seems to have piqued my interest. I was already on the hunt for an Xbox Series X and was unable to secure one, and once the systems were released scalpers used bots to score 1000s of systems from online retailers then they would sell them on sites like Facebook and eBay at highly inflated prices.

Lucky for me Xbox, sent us one, and Alison, offered it over to me, as she knew I was on the hunt for one, but why now? Well, Xbox is on PC and their Game Pass also offers streaming service on mobile. I already have a bunch of games on Xbox for PC and I know those games would also be available on Xbox Series X when I have one. Then we have a multitude of games thanks to Xbox Games Pass for me to dig into. I still have a high-end PC which I use almost all the time and a Nintendo Switch with loads of exclusives and I love them both.

Now I have something that will POWER MY DREAMS as Xbox quote on their box, but can it?

Exclusives are not something I went for when it came to the Xbox Series X. It was primarily being the most powerful of the next-gen systems, its backwards compatibility, game pass and having access to my games on PC and mobile.

Below is a tech spec comparison between all next-gen systems;

CPU 8x Zen 2 Cores at 3.5GHz (Variable Frequency) 8x Cores at 3.8 GHz (3.6 GHz w/ SMT) Custom Zen 2 CPU 8x Cores at 3.6 GHz (3.4 GHz w/ SMT) Custom Zen 2 CPU
GPU 10.28 TFLOPs, 36 CUs at 2.23GHz (Variable Frequency) 12 TFLOPS, 52 CUs at 1.825 GHz 4 TFLOPS, 20 CUs at 1.565 GHz
GPU Architecture Custom RDNA 2 Custom RDNA 2 Custom RDNA 2
Die Size 360.45 mm²
Process 7nm Enhanced 7nm Enhanced
Memory 16GB GDDR6/256-bit 16 GB GDDR6 w/ 320b bus 10 GB GDDR6
Memory Bandwidth 448GB/s 10GB @ 560 GB/s, 6GB at 336 GB/s 8GB @ 224 GB/s, 2 GB at 56GB/s
Internal Storage Custom 825GB SSD 1 TB Custom NVME SSD 512GB Custom NVME SSD
I/O Throughput 5.5GB/s (Raw), Typical 8-9GB/s (Compressed) 2.4 GB/s (Raw), 4.8 GB/s (Compressed)
Expandable Storage NVMe SSD Slot 1 TB Expansion Card (Matches Internal Storage Exactly) 1 TB Expansion Card (Matches Internal Storage Exactly)
External Storage USB HDD Support USB 3.2 External HDD Support
Optical Drive 4K UHD Blu-ray Drive 4K UHD Blu-ray Drive Digital Only
Dimensions 390mm x 104mm x 260mm* 301mm x 151mm x 151mm 275mm x 151mm x 63.5mm
Weight 4.5kg* 4.45kg 1.9 kg

When it comes to selling the Xbox Series X to us Xbox opt to share its features

  • 4K Gaming at up to 120FPS
  • Up to 8K High Dynamic Range
  • Xbox Velocity Architecture – what is this well here is a short video

  • 1 TB SSD
  • VRR – Variable Refresh Rate – A variable refresh rate (VRR) is the general term for a dynamic display refresh rate that can continuously and seamlessly vary on the fly, on displays that support variable refresh rate technologies.
  • 4K Blu-ray
  • Dolby Vision Atmos dtsX

The front of the box does not show much either, just a look of the top of the Xbox Series X, some basic features, and choice of colours being green and black, I would call the design of the front minimalistic and typical of Xbox. On the back, Master Chief is present, promoting the upcoming Halo game Halo Infinite due for release 2021. Xbox mention Game Pass which offers over 100 games to dig into for a monthly subscription, backwards compatibility through many generations of Xbox, Xbox Velocity Architecture and finally making a note that this is the MOST POWERFUL XBOX EVER. – Well that is no surprise why make a new console if it was not more powerful than the older console?

The way they packed this console, was like a top of the line product, truly doing the new console justice. Unboxing felt like I was going to be treated to something special.

That’s enough of the tech, features and how Xbox sell their product, now it’s time to take a look at the new Xbox Series X and what can only be classed as a rather minimalistic design choice.

On the front, we have the Blu-ray disc drive and power button which glows white. When you turn the Xbox Series X on there as an audible welcome sound. There is also the controller connection button, however, I never used it, as my controller seemed to connect without any help at all, and finally a USB port. Moving to the back of the system you have a further two USB ports, the expansion port, HDMI, power and Ethernet connection. you can even place your new Xbox Series X on its side if you so wish, however, it just looks odd as you cannot remove the circle base.

As you can see from PIC 3 I have already got a 1TB expansion card from Seagate. This was because I kind of filled the internal drive with all the games I fancied on the system, which included Assassin’s Creed Origins, Odyssey, Valhalla, Watchdogs Legion, Immortal Fenyx Rising and The Division 2 thanks to Ubisoft. Devil May Cry Special Edition thanks to Capcom. Game Pass Ultimate thanks to Xbox. Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate thanks to Warner Bros. Dirt 5 thanks to a good friend. Monster Hunter Iceborne Ultimate Pack, Red Dead Redemption 2, Ace Combat 7, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, and Borderlands 3 rounded off my list of installs.

Then if you want to pre-load any games there is a nifty little feature within the Xbox App on your phone. You can pre-download any game you want, and once you own that game, on physical of digital the game will be ready for you to play. This is a great little feature and saves loads of time if you know there is a game you are going to get in the next few days, or a game that is due to be released and you can pre-install, take for example Cyberpunk 2077.

Now you could be sitting there wondering why I have put games on my new system, that were available for the older generation (Xbox One), well 4K, and HDR was my first thought that was offered with the Xbox One X, but mostly because I never got the chance to play any of them that much. Mostly due to work, and finding the right balance between playing games and spending time with the family.

Having the Xbox Series X in the family area allows for me to spend time with my little boy and my partner, while also having time to play a game or two for a few hours. This is a much better way to balance my time around gaming and family, rather than sitting upstairs alone gaming on my PC. I already work away for weeks on end and when I am home I sit upstairs also working weeks on end. My son does come up to see me and pulls on my leg, swivels my chair around and pats the chair behind me so he can sit with me and watch his TV shows. This not the greatest way to do my work, but it does put a smile on my face and some well-deserved time with my son.

Being a next-gen system I was, or would have expected some exclusive games to launch with the platform, however, it was not meant to be this time around, a massive loss for Xbox and all game developers. However, there are some games that are now optimized for Series X|S and a full list can be found here. The games that I own which are optimized include Borderlands 3, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Devil May Cry 5, Dirt 5, Immortals Fenyx Rising, Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate and Watch Dogs: Legion.

I understand Xbox’s idea, allowing all games to work on all systems, it is a bit like a PC. PC Games have Low to Ultra graphical settings. This allows the game to play on an array of different spec PC’s from low-end to high-end and everything in-between. But this does not detract from the fact that Xbox and all the game developers they work with did not create a game or games to really showcase what this new system was capable of doing for its launch.

Yes, the games do look great in 4K, they play well at 120FPS, they launch and load faster thanks to the new Velocity Architecture and the Custom NVME SSD. OK, before fans of PS5 starting digging their claws into this comment, I DO NOT CARE for a slight visual downgrade and a slight drop of FPS that does not in any way detract from my overall experience of the game. Only BUGS in games upset me. In all honesty, games look stunning on the Xbox Series X there is no question about that. P.S Velocity Architecture also works with quick resume on physical media, yes, you can take a disc out, load up another disc or a digital game and go right back to any game saved for quick resume. I did not think this would be possible, however, as the game is stored on the drive and you only use the disk to prove you own the game, it works exactly like its digital variant.

SO FAR…

New next-gen system minimalistic in its design, no exclusives, plenty of optimized games, 4K, HDR, 120 FPS gaming, and best of all, loads of games to play from many generations, all with improvements.

I must admit I do like the new features of the PS5 controller and its new Adaptive triggers that allows players to feel the tension behind their actions. Which also work in tandem with haptic feedback (Rumble). However, I have never liked the actual, design and layout, more precisely where they place the analog sticks since they just feel wrong. I have always preferred the layout of Microsoft’s controller, that being said, the Gen 1 controller from Xbox was giant and badly designed.

So has Xbox changed much with their controller for the Xbox Series X Launch? Nope, same design, same haptic feedback called ‘impulse triggers’ that emit distinct rumbles depending on that are doing within a game, even offer players a sense of directionality. Very slight changes here.

After sitting down and reading feedback online regarding the new PS5 controller and its new adaptive triggers, one thing struck me and that was disabled games and gamers that suffered from arthritis in their fingers. They questioned the accessibility of the controller asking if the adaptive trigger can be switched off because not all gamers may have the hand strength to fight the triggers. I am fully in agreement to that, as I know plenty of gamers that even turn off the rumble features built into many controllers. Even now at my age, I can feel that there is a lack of strength in the right fingers, maybe this is due to all the typing I do and gaming when I was younger, but I am sure that as I get older, my strength in those fingers is going to get worse and I shall get arthritis in them for certain.

So what has changed with the Xbox Series X controller because, on first look, it seems not much has? First off the new controllers have been designed to fit and work better with people with smaller hands, this is great for me, as I do have small male hands. The buttons are no longer vinyl and shiny they are now all matte finished. The triggers now have tactile bumps all over them to help with grip. The D-Pad has been changed it is now more like deep dish, which makes the d-pad more responsive and comfortable to use. I am unsure if players like me who enjoy Streetfighter will like this new design, but only time will tell I guess.

There is a new way to access share button right in the middle of the controller, see video below for even more info.

You can also use this controller on all Xbox One Systems, which is great for anyone who cannot afford to upgrade, or does not want to, but does like the look and feel of the controllers. One issue I refuse to agree with when it comes to Xbox controllers is the use of AA batteries over a full rechargeable system, This is why I purchased myself the Venom changer kit for only £14.99, this allows me to charge my device on a stand and once changed last for up to 15hrs.

One bit of tech info Dynamic Latency Input has been added to these controllers, what does this mean? Well simply put it, when you depress a button it will match the frames on-screen which minimise any possible lag, between your depress and what you see happening on the screen. Lag has always been an issue for peripheral devices and the majority of lag has always come from wireless peripherals, this is why many gamers prefer a wired connection over a wireless connection.

So there we have it. An improved controller even though at first glance it does not look like much has changed, but the improvements are well received and warranted. Will Xbox create an elite version of this and add adaptive triggers as Sony has? Who knows, but one thing is certain the war between console only lies between the gamers and it seems Sony and Xbox work alongside each other as companies that create amazing experiences for gamers to play on.

Whichever system you decide to adopt be it PS5 or Xbox Series X, make a note, lack of exclusives on BOTH. They both support 4K, HDR and 120FPS games. HDR Auto improves a high number of games including older games on Xbox Series X. Xbox Series X has Game Pass which is amazing and offers access to so many games, however, it’s only a matter of time until PlayStation announces their own version. Xbox Series X External Storage Expansions are expensive but will go down in price as more competitors enter the market; they will also get bigger in size.

There is a question that needs to be asked? Why are games not performing that well on the box Series X compared to PS5 when the Xbox Series X is a more powerful system? Speaking to a few game developers, they all confirmed that they had PS5 Dev kits much, much, much, earlier than any Xbox Series X Dev kits. So they have been working with PS5 Next-Gen kits for some time before they were able to work with Xbox Series X devs kits. So give it time and let see what happens. Games are games whichever system they arrive on. Gamers are going to play. We are going to be whisked into a world that takes us away from the real world and this can only be a good thing to a degree.

Please respect a gamer’s personal choice when it comes to any console. As for me, the Xbox Series X ticks all my boxes and I am very happy with what I got. However, currently, I feel that more needs to be done to entice gamers into the Xbox ecosystem. Yes Game Pass is great, game streaming is great, but there needs to be more… Microsoft Xbox Series S|X Launch titles, where are you?

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Xbox Series X Review – A Personal Look at Next-Gen

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