The Xbox One X – Early Impressions

Xbox One X Console Controller Gray Shadow

The world’s most powerful console is here but is it worth spending that extra cheddar for?

Don’t worry XBrock One X has all the anwers!

I’ve been waiting patiently for what feels like ages to power up the Xbox One X, and I finally did last week. I had my soundbar turned up to 11 and I thought my lovely apartment was going crumble around me. The boot-up animation is incredibly bright, loud, and full of bass. Microsoft wants to suck you in right off the bat. If you’re going spend the money for the world’s most powerful console, you better get what you paid for and Microsoft knows that. This machine doesn’t mess around.

While the Switch is selling like crazy, and Sony is putting out hit after hit in the exclusives department, the Xbox needs to stand out. The Xbox One X is smaller, sleeker, and faster than the OG Xbox One, and is more capable than both the PS4 and PS4 Pro in terms of raw power.

There’s no denying this console is a beast. The problem is there are no launch titles that really show off 4K gaming and that’s why this isn’t a full review. Forza Motorsport 7 came out last month and is the only exclusive AAA game available. For its price, you’re investing in hardware that will hopefully have a big 2018. You’re also going need to have a 4K TV, and not just any 4K TV, to reap the benefits.

If you are an original Xbox One owner, you’ll be blown away with the upgrade, but if you’re like me and have an Xbox One S, the Xbox One X purchase is going depend on what games you play and how much you care about 4K.

In terms of look and feel the Xbox One X is incredibly small for how much power is under the hood. It’s a technological feat. It makes the OG Xbox One look like a run down Honda Civic. It’s a bit heavier than the One S but is still able to fit in a backpack and be carried around if you want to.

The Xbox One X has the same inputs and ports as the S. There’s HDMI-in, two USBs at the rear, one at the front (This is where I plug in my external hard drive) and an Ethernet port. The horrendous external power supply is long gone, and it’s all integrated into the machine with dual voltage. It’s really similar to the Xbox One S on the surface and still needs a rather large USB adaptor for the Kinect.

I’m actually a little disappointed that it’s not sexier looking. It’s rather plain. I was hoping it would be flashier or more interesting. I just picked up an ASUS ROG GR8 II which is absolutely stunning. I’m surprised Microsoft didn’t put more detailing or lights on this device to make it stand out. This decision probably saved on costs and keep it leans and clean but I would have appreciated some colors that pop. How sexy would a green light in the shape of a scorpion look emitting from the front of this device?

Under the hood is where the real beauty lies. Microsoft is using a 2.3GHz 8-core AMD Jaguar processor, 12GB of RAM, and a six-teraflop AMD Radeon GPU. That is two teraflops more than the PS4 Pro (Sony’s 4K machine), a faster CPU, and more than 3GB of overall RAM. Yes the Xbox One X outperforms the PS4 Pro by a longshot. Just on hardware alone, the Xbox One X takes the cake and it includes a 4K Blu-ray player. Planet Earth II was included in the reviewers kit for this device and it looks amazing.

With great power, comes a great responsibility… to have a good cooling system and fans. The fans are a bit loud, which is to be expected, and with the Dolby Atmos on you won’t even notice. The system is a tad louder than the Xbox One S. I’d suggest not keeping the device in a cupboard as the back gets extremely hot. I keep mine in an opening shelving unit with no problems.

Now the million dollar question. Does it live up to the promise of “true 4K” gaming? It’s important to know that most games made for the current gen are designed for 1080p TVs, which have a quarter of the pixels found on a new 4K TV. The Xbox One X is four times more powerful than the OG Xbox One. Microsoft has promised that more than 150 games will be “enhanced” for the Xbox One X, BUT that does not mean they will be in 4K. Some games might get better frame rates, or HDR capability but not necessarily 4K. This will depend on the game developers themselves, and I’m curious to see what Microsoft themselves brings to the table. While playing through their own Super Lucky Tale I was impressed by the frame rate but not much else.

Once you start playing games at 60fps it’s hard to go back. For review purposes, Gears of War 4 was available in up-to-60fps, “performance mode”. It’s an old game and with so many new and brilliant games out I really didn’t want to replay Gears but it is a good example of what the Xbox One X can do. Gears doesn’t do 4K but it does do performance-focused which makes the game run as smooth as butter and does boost the graphics. Yes, this is all a little confusing, but Microsoft has done an excellent job making it easy as possible.

A game like Forza Motorsport 7 is the real MVP here. It does 4K, HDR, and 60fps. This is only the beginning hopefully of what we can expect in the coming years. Unfortunately, the Forza update wasn’t available for review.

Pixel nerds will get off on this, but I care about gameplay. And games running at 60fps freaking rule. It’s so hard to go back to 30fps. It’s not a be all and end all but it does make a huge difference. PC gamers have known this for years.

For third-party titles, Assassin’s Creed Origins was available with the Xbox One X update. I still haven’t fallen in love with the game, and I’m chipping away at it. It’s going be much easier to finish now that I see it in all its beauty. It looks fucking gorgeous you guys, there’s no denying that.

If you don’t have a 4K tv the Xbox One X isn’t totally useless to you. It does make games like Destiny 2 run much more smoothly. Sure the game is still locked at 30fps (UGH) but it works a lot better when trying raids and running around heavily populated public areas.

The reason I can’t finish this review is there are not enough 4K games to see what this machine can really do. Assassin’s Creed Origins is hands down the best game I tried but it’s neither an exclusive or a good enough game for me to recommend (yet). Launching a console without an exclusive is a bold and strange move. There’s not even anything on the horizon we’ve seen, and I’m not sure when we are going see anything new. Hopefully sooner than E3.  Maybe Microsoft has some tricks up their sleeve for CES in January. Poor Super Lucky’s Tale is coming out just a few short weeks after Super Mario Odyssey and it’s hard to play after just reviewing such an incredible platformer. It has charm and is fun, albeit extremely frustrating in parts, but it’s not a good showcase of the Xbox One X.

On the horizon, we know that Crackdown 3 is coming out this spring (knock on wood) but from what I’ve seen it doesn’t look it takes advantage of the Xbox One X either. Fable LegendsScalebound,  and Ion have all been canceled. The next game up for the Xbox “console exclusive” category is PlayerUnknown’s Battleground but how much the Xbox One X enhances that game is undetermined.

Sony, on the other hand, has Spider-Man, The Last of Us Part II, Final Fantasy VII Remake, God of War, and Detroit all on the way and they look simply incredible. I said it back in January, and I’ll say it again, Xbox needs exclusives. What good is a powerful system without exclusive content?

The Xbox One X still acts like an entertainment center and can be used for more than just games. The 4K Blu-ray drive is amazing and it’s got Dolby Atmos and HDR 10, but no Dolby Vision. Unfortunately, our options for 4K movies and TV is limited in Canada, with Netflix leading the way. The Microsoft store doesn’t seem to offer 4K options yet, but hopefully, this will change.

I hooked my Chromecast into the HDMI-in port to stream content and it runs very smoothly. This is a solid box for consuming content when you are not gaming. If we ever get things like Amazon Video, HBO Go, or Hulu Plus here in Canada this will be a huge addition to the console. Or if Bell wants to get with the times and give us Crave on our Xbox’s I’ll take it.

Included with the reviewers kit was a 2TB Seagate hard drive and trust me you’ll need it. Xbox One games are huge on their own, and with the 4K enhancements, you’re looking at doubling the GBs. Halo 5 clock in at over 100GB. If you need a handy guide for getting Xbox One X ready I have a guide for you. The 1TB built-in hard drive isn’t nearly enough space. The system’s OS alone takes up 220GBs.

At the end of the day, I haven’t had enough time to get a real sense of the Xbox One X. Nothing has blown me away, other than the sound. Switching between the S and the X right now hasn’t made a huge difference. At the moment, it’s hard to tell the difference between the two consoles.

The Xbox One X is the most powerful machine on the market and it’s got the best graphics but it doesn’t have the exclusives to show off. If you have the OG Xbox One, or even a 360 and a 4K TV then yes I’d encourage the switch but if you have an S hooked in there’s no real reason for you to pull the trigger.

This is an expensive investment. You need the TV, the external hard drive, the games and controllers to get the most out of it. This is nothing new. I’ve said this all year. Let’s see what Microsoft has up their sleeves for 2018 and beyond because a few big titles might change my mind in a huge way, and they have to be sexier and more appealing than Sea of Thieves and Crackdown 3.

Happy gaming my friends.

  Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using an Xbox One X provided by Xbox Canada.

Brock McLaughlin

Brock McLaughlin

Brock McLaughlin 🕹 🎮 Twitter @brockmclaughlin New Media (B)Rockstar. Blogger. Video Gamer. Podcaster at the Game Moose. UnBrocxer. Somewhat Charming.

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