Xbox Series X | Review

At long last, the first of the Next Gen consoles are out. The Xbox Series X has been with us for about one week.

In that time, we have been able to dig in and test out a number of the new features as well as some of the new Series X titles alongside a handful of the backwards compatible ones from previous generations.

Note: While the console was purchased with our own money, to help with the review Microsoft, Activision and Ubisoft did provide us with a number of Review Codes for the titles listed below. Individual reviews for the games will follow over the coming weeks.

  • Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War
  • Assassins’ Creed Valhalla
  • Watchdogs Legion.
  • Dirt 5
  • Tetris Effort
  • Ori and the Will of the Wisps
  • The Falconeer
  • Forza Horizon 4
  • Gears 5
  • Gears Tactics
  • The Tourist.

The first thing I noticed when opening up the box was how surprisingly heavy the console was. It took me by surprise and it almost ended up slipping out of my grip right away!

The second thing was that it is a fingerprint magnet. After simply plugging in the console it was already looking like a greasy fingered scoundrel had been pawing it.

The third thing was the lack of a free code for Game Pass. Every other generation would include a code for at least 14 days Xbox live. But no such luck this time. All that was in the box was a controller and the cables.

Once it was rubbed down and sat into its new home on the shelf. I found it to be much less overbearing than expected. It fits nicely into The Ikea Kallax unit, with enough room around it for airflow. We did stand it up, but it could also go on its side quite easily.

The set up is simple. Plug in the Power cable, LAN cable and HDMI and that is it. Grab the controller, stick in the supplied batteries and press the Xbox button. The controller and console were already synced, but if yours isn’t, there is a small button on the front. (We also straight away synced an Xbox One X controller too. They are fully compatible unlike the PS5/PS4 controller).

Next step is to finish the set up via the App. That took a few seconds to download from the Google store but because I have already logged into MS Apps it knew my email and password and I was logged in within seconds.

All that remained was to type in the code the console was displaying on the TV screen. Select a few basic settings and that was it.

In less than 5 mins and it was all set up.

The layout of the home page will not come as a surprise to Xbox One owners. It has the same layout as before, you can customise some aspects of the home screen to put your favourite content up front, but it isn’t the slick experience it could have been.

What has improved a lot is how easy it is to find what I wanted. Everything is easily searchable and they have bunched together games linked to subscriptions. For example, all the GamePass titles are together and the EA Play games are co-located too. You can also filter by the console type so you can find the titles that have been optimized for Series X|S.

The main improvements that everyone cares about are with the games’ loading times and performance.

Loading into a game has reduced to only a few seconds in most cases. Thanks to the Quick Resume feature you can hop in and out of games very quickly. I was able to move from Jedi Fallen Order to Ori, and back, in around 5 or 6 seconds. No loading back in, no intro screens, no main menu, no loading up previous save files.

Note: You do need to ensure you are doing this with a Quick Resume compatible title or you can risk losing some progress.

Fast travel in-game is now actually fast, often so fast you don’t have time to read the hints never mind running for a pee break.

The main improvement is the quality of the picture. 4K @ 60fps is now the standard although some games will go up to 120 fps. There is support for HDR10 and Dolby vision to give that extra depth to the image and Ray Tracing ensures amazing reflections are created. Having the crystal clear images with the high FPS and vibrant colours is where the console really shines.

All the Series X games look stunning, but you can also gain performance boosts in older titles. Even ones that have yet to see a developer update.

Storage on the Series X is around the 800GB mark. At the moment I am at about 90% full with 21 games installed. Including larger titles like Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed, Watchdogs, Doom Eternal, Gears 5, Forza.

The storage management is brilliant, offering much more control over what you want to have on disk. The ability to install only the bits you want or uninstall bits you are finished with means you can fit more games on the hard drive. If you don’t play online Multiplayer then just install the Single player campaign.

For Example Call of Duty is installed at 187 GB, but I can uninstall any of the below to free up space provided I keep the Base Game’s 32 GB installed,

  • Campaign – 58 GB
  • Multiplayer 28 GB
  • Zombies 7 GB
  • Dead Ops Arcade 11 GB
  • HD textures 38.1 GB
  • Raytracing 11 GB

Overall: For €499 the Series X is a formidable machine. Getting one before Christmas will require some work but more stock has been regularly coming into stores so keep checking and don’t give in to the scalpers.

The main hindrance for the Series X is the lack of a killer exclusive title at launch. Microsoft has been busy buying up studios to help with this, but the main selling point for Xbox Series X|S for the next few months is the Game Pass Ultimate, which offers excellent value for money and the amazing performance boost on existing titles.

A great machine that is truly Next Gen.

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