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Letters from the Front

In 2013, the Xbox One was at odds with itself. As someone who played a lot of games at that time, I might have been happy with a more powerful Xbox 360 that was tapped for the way things were back then and what followed, but, Microsoft was clearly trying to please me and the traditional gamer alongside the vast people that spent time watching Hulu, Netflix, or Amazon Prime on consoles rather than their TV. So when Microsoft said the Xbox One would bring gesture control, voice commands, and blockbuster games to my living room, that all-in-one strategy didn’t really mean much for me because I didn’t need voice commands or gesture controls to play games.

That vision, which, now in 2020 hindsight was a complete failure came at a very high cost. This vision cost them the generation and the war, with Playstation 4 hitting everything that was needed to succeed. It was not good.

Now, with the Xbox Series X. That vision is completely gone. That dark past is now in the past with many of the features that made the Xbox One seem at odds with itself completely removed and the Xbox Series X solely being for me and for my habits, Microsoft built the Series X with me in mind and that’s great. HDR10, Native 4K, 120 FPS, Quick Resume, and more makes this a very gamer-first product as opposed to the original Xbox One. When it comes to power and more, this is nothing like the Xbox One generation, this is the most powerful console for this generation of games and it’s nice to see that Microsoft is taking every criticism of the past and fixing them. The Series X is a complete hit from top to bottom.

That consumer and gamer-first approach continues with an easy setup and after a few minutes, you have everything at your disposal from last generation including games and any apps you may have used on the Xbox One. You have multiple options for bringing your existing library to the Series X – the best of which don’t require you to redownload anything. For instance, if your Xbox One is still hooked up to your network when you bring home the Series X, simply plug in the Series X and transfer all of your games right over the network – which, provided your network is good, is pretty quick. It’s that quick.

If you’ve owned an Xbox One, which I assume if you’re reading this you do, then navigating your new Series X will be instantly familiar. In my opinion, this is completely anticlimatic as everything should be new including the dashboard but Microsoft has opted for continuity by sticking with a dashboard that has been tweaked over the course of seven years. It works wonderful and you have the options for different themes including dynamic themes which are beautiful but are limited to 1080p resolutions. The dashboard has every feature and third-party app from the Xbox One, with no obvious gaps or downgrades like when the Xbox One launched in 2013. On the Series X, the dashboard is snappier and quick and more responsive, and a lot of the functionality comes from my Series II Elite Controller, that press on the guide button brings you to the dashboard and more. Some settings are hidden as usual which can be found in settings or by typing into the search button.

On the gaming side of things, it is very impressive. 4K60 or 4K120 will be the new normal going forward, and that boost in frame rate is very noticeable when it comes to certain games. We don’t know for sure yet how the Series X and PS5 will perform in the same third-party games head to head, but remembering the difference between the Xbox One and PS4 at their launch, betting on the Series X is a good move going forward. If you favor frame rate, the Xbox Series X has you covered with some games running at 120FPS, but its bound to have some issues as not every 4K TV or HDMI cable supports 120Hz (thank you for including a 120Hz cable in the box). That said, the difference between 60Hz and 120Hz was very noticeable and impressive. Games like Gears 5 or Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla running at 120Hz is impressive but I don’t think everyone needs it as of right now so you’re good at 60 because games still look amazing when running at 4K60.

When it comes to speed, the Series X does a good job and Quick Resume does its job but I don’t think every gamer is going to use it like myself. Being able to almost instantly pick up where you left off in any of your recently played games is a great quality-of-life feature. It only takes about five to ten seconds to go from selecting a game off of your list to actually playing exactly where you left off. It’s great but it’s going to be used a lot less than what Microsoft marketed it out to be.

The only negative thing about the Series X is the lack of games that come with it, you can tell that Halo Infinite was going to be the thing that Microsoft hung is hat on. The lack of games at launch is nothing new, remember the 360 launch? Thirty Series X games at launch may seem a lot, but almost nothing requires a Series X to play and that’s where backwards compatibility and future games come in. In fact, a number of games from the One are upgraded like Gears 5 and Horizon alongside a couple of games and your backwards library. But what’s available is very little, nothing that screams “You need a Series X RIGHT NOW!!” , even the Xbox One launch had a few games like Ryse: Son of Rome and Dead Rising 3.

In the end, I can only assume that the Xbox Series X will wow us with new and spectacular next-gen games when the generation is a little bit deeper in, because there isn’t much to judge it on right now. But in the meanwhile, no matter what current games you throw at it, your loading times will be drastically cut, your framerates will be smoother, and your resolutions will be a lot higher. This is the console to get if you’re looking to get into console gaming or into the Xbox ecosystem. If you’re already a fan of the Xbox, the future is looking very bright. I’m excited to see where this new generation takes us.

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