We got our hands on the Xbox Series X and within the first 24 hours, it has left us quite impressed. The console is Microsoft’s vision of next-gen gaming or should we say now current-gen gaming that comes with upgraded hardware and nifty features like Quick Resume, super-fast loading times and the ability to game for cheaper with the Xbox Game Pass. We’ve already talked about how the Xbox Game Pass is important for India however, we can now talk about our experience with the console. A little housekeeping note: this is not the full review of the console as we haven’t spent enough time with it, but more of an overview of what you can expect.
As soon as you open the box, you are greeted with Microsoft’s new slogan “Power Your Dreams” wrapped around the Xbox console itself. Along with the console, the packing includes a power cable, an HDMI 2.1 cable, the new Xbox controller and a pair of AA batteries. After setting up the console, you boot it up by pressing the Xbox logo which also happens to be the power button. When turned on, the box makes the same startup chime sound as previous Xbox consoles. The Xbox Series X is supposed to be used in vertical orientation but you can also use it by having it laid on its side. Our first impressions of the console are that it is hefty and does have some weight to it. It’s smaller than what it looks like online and fits well with most TV entertainment units.
While using the console, the first thing we noticed was how incredible silent it was. Even when running graphic-intensive games like Forza Horizon 4 or Yakuza 7, the Xbox Series X didn’t make a sound. Having said that, we can only know for sure how loud it gets when the console is pushed to use the full 12 teraflops, however that will be towards the end of the generation when developers will be able to push its limits.
We also timed how long it takes for the Xbox Series X to boot up. From an always-on or “Instant On” state, the Xbox Series X starts in about 5.14 seconds. Yes, we did multiple tests and each time console started close to that time. In the case of cold-boot, it took about 10-12 seconds for it to boot up. That’s quite impressive considering how slow the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One X can be at booting up.
The Xbox Series X also comes with a new controller that is basically the same as previous designs. It has some subtle differences such as the new D-Pad being more friendly for platforming games. There’s also some grip texture on the analog sticks, triggers and the back of the controller. However, if you really want to have the ultimate experience, we recommend using the Elite 2 controller with the console if you can manage to get your hands on one.
We also paired up the Elite 1 and Elite 2 controllers almost flawlessly. If you are already an Xbox user, you will be happy to know that you can bring your old Xbox One controllers with you and use them to play games on the Xbox Series X and S. It was brilliant on Microsoft’s part to have backwards hardware compatibility as it really helps in saving the cost of buying an additional controller.
The Xbox Series X also comes with 1TB of storage in the form of an NVME SSD that is the reason behind the console’s speed at loading games and boot-up time. You will get about 801GB of storage for your games after you download the Day 1 patch. You can expand the storage by using Seagate’s 1TB proprietary expansion SSD, however we haven’t got our hands on that yet to test. Microsoft says it delivers the same performance as the internal NVME SSD which is reassuring. Additionally, you can also store Series X games on an external HDD, provided it has support for USB 3.1. You can store next-gen games on the HDD and transfer it to the console when you need it. This removes the pain of re-downloading games as transferring data is way faster. You can also play backwards compatible games from the HDD directly without having the need to transfer them to the console. However, since it will be played off the HDD via a USB connection, loading times will not be as fast when played on the SSD.
The other great feature Microsoft has implemented is the ability to switch games with its new “Quick Resume” feature. We tested out this feature with Yakuza 7 and Ori and the Will of the Wisps where we switched between the two games to test this feature. When switching, you no longer have to wait for the entire game to load from scratch and instead will take you right where you left off.
From our initial impressions, the Xbox Series X feels like a solid piece of hardware that can literally power my dreams of playing incredible games. Sure, I still need to play truly next-gen game to test its capabilities, but from what we’ve seen in our brief time with the console, the Xbox Series X is on the right track.
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Photo: © MensXP/Akshay Bhalla (Main Image)