Microsoft had promised the next generation of gaming will arrive with the launch of the Xbox Series X, and its new flagship console undoubtedly delivers.
The Series X is a completely redesigned Xbox inside and out, and the result is not only one of the best looking consoles in years, but one with astounding power normally found in gaming PCs.
Here is a closer look at Xbox’s new powerhouse.
A change in shape and size sees this generation Xbox move from a flat slab to a short, stocky tower rising just over 30cm, but can also be laid on its side.
It’s a different set of dimensions that gamers will be used to but the Series X does anything but stand out like a sore thumb – it’s actually a great looking piece of kit.
On the front, there’s the 4K Ultra HD Blu-Ray disc slot as well as a USB port and a button to connect your wireless controllers, with all the usual cable ports for HDMI, internet connectivity and a further two USB ports on the rear of the console.
But the most striking feature is on the new vent on top of the device which is part of the new cooling system – it is lined with varying levels of Xbox green and catches the eye nicely.
In action, this is also impressive because the Series X is noticeably quieter than previous Xbox generations and other consoles.
The other key piece of design with any console is the controller and here Xbox has stuck very much to what it knows.
The only major change is the addition of a share button in the centre of the controller, and a coarse finish on the underside of the device and the trigger buttons to aid grip.
It is still powered by two AA batteries – which come in the box – rather than use rechargeable batteries, which is arguably an opportunity missed.
But it is worth noting that the new wireless controller is also compatible with Xbox One consoles and vice versa, so upgraders can sync their additional controllers with the new console easily.
– Software and Games
Of course, the real test for any console is when you turn it on.
On the Series X, there are several things to note and highlight – both good and bad.
The new set-up system deserves immediate and loud praise for using the Xbox app to make the initial set-up so smooth by allowing users to quickly transfer their existing Xbox data via the Xbox app on their smartphone rather than putting users in front of the dreaded on-screen keyboard which must be navigated with the controller.
The Xbox UI itself is still too busy – there are too many panels and menu bars to try and move between on-screen at once – but generally, it is still comfortable enough to move through.
It is also impossible to not be impressed by how games look on the console.
Using what the firm calls the Xbox Velocity Architecture – a collection of high-powered components which means the Series X offers specifications on a par with high-end gaming PCs – even older games receive improvements that boost their appearance and how they play.
It is capable of DirectX raytracing – a technology which vastly improves the realism of lighting effects, and aims to run games in 4K at 60 frames per second (fps), but with support for 120fps and 8K resolution in the future.
So there is plenty to work with now and plenty of potential for the future.
From day one, players will see better loading times, higher resolution and better quality visuals.
New features like Quick Resume are a brilliant demonstration of the advances made by this generation of gaming too. This feature allows players to switch between content and restart playing games in seconds, at speed previously unfathomable in modern console gaming.
But there is a downside right now for the Series X, and that is a striking lack of stand out first-party or exclusive games at launch.
Yes, there are some exciting third-party games on the way such as Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and Watch Dogs Legion, but these are not the titles that will truly show off what this system is no doubt capable of.
Xbox Game Pass is a brilliant way to access hundreds of games quickly and will be a fantastic companion to this console and providing players with things to play quickly, but it won’t show them most clearly why they chose to invest in it.
The key to the Xbox Series X is its potential. There is no doubt that Microsoft has done a commendable job in building its most powerful console ever, one which makes any compatible game instantly look and play better.
But the real excitement about this console is knowing what hardware it has inside it, and what it will be capable of when in the coming years, new titles are released that truly push its boundaries.
The Xbox Series X is released on November 10, priced at £449.99.