Xbox Series X review: Hands On Impressions

Right after Thanksgiving I was lucky enough to snag an Xbox Series X from Best Buy’s website. I was a fan of the original Xbox, and though I owned an Xbox 360 I wasn’t particularly fond of the system itself. The Xbox One and PS4 were a solid tie for me in the last console  generation, and I genuinely think that the One is a fantastic console. That probably has colored my perceptions of the Series X, a console that feels more like a serious upgrade to the One at times rather than something completely novel. After having spent a lot of time playing the Series X, it’s worth noting that I love this console. Let me run through some of what makes it a great choice for next-gen gamers. 

Ease of Use: 

The Series X is incredibly easy to set up. Using the Xbox app on my S9+ I was able to have the system completely set up in around 5 minutes, which included syncing data and settings from my Xbox One. Controller set up is incredibly easy as well. The controller can be synced to the system with the press of two buttons, one on the console itself, and the other on the controller. This also works with Xbox One controllers, that sync and work perfectly with the X. 


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Controller: 

The Series X controller is not particularly different than the One controller. Instead of a smooth finish it has a textured feel that helps maintain grip slightly better than the One controller. The new D-pad looks a bit different, but works well. I was able to platform efficiently on Crash Bandicoot: N Sane Trilogy using only the D-pad. In other words, this controller feels a lot like more of the same but with light tweaks that are immediately noticeable, which isn’t a bad thing. 

Graphics:

Games look fantastic on the Series X, especially the games that have been enhanced on Series X. I have two LG 4k TVs. Both are the same model. Playing games like Gears of War 5 on the Series X as compared to the One demonstrates that there is a difference in graphics, though to my untrained eye I can’t always pick out exactly why the Series X looks better. Bottom line, games look amazing, the colors are rich and vibrant, and there are virtually no framerate drops that would alter the presentation of the games on the Series X. 

Load Times: 

I started timing load screens on the Series X, just to see how long I’d have to wait to get in game. My average from hitting the start button to being in-game was usually around 10 seconds. After a while, I became so accustomed to the immediacy of getting in the game quickly that I forgot it was happening. After going back to play other games on the last-gen consoles it hit me just what a difference in speed I was seeing between the Series X and its predecessors. 

Interface: 

If you like the newest iteration of the One’s interface, then you’ll love the Series X interface. They are, to the best of my knowledge, indiscernible from one another. I particularly like that the games I tagged to my home screen carry over to the Series X, meaning that I can get those quick games of Luxor 2 in without having to dig through my back library. 

Games: 

One of the biggest criticisms that can be leveled at the Series X is that there are no real exclusives for it. Everything that is on the Series X can be played either on PC or Xbox One. I will buy a PS5 eventually just to get the exclusives, but if you’re hunting for exclusives for the Series X there just aren’t any to be had. That hurts the selling point considerably. 

That said, there is a vast library of games available on the Series X. It includes not only enhanced versions of some One games, but also the complete One catalog, a massive catalog of compatible 360 games, and the same handful of original Xbox games that are playable on the One. Gamepass Ultimate also offers a tremendous amount of content for a very reasonable price, making the Series X a great platform to play not only your back library, but also the entire Gamepass library. Between my library and Gamepass I think this is the first console generation where I started out with a massive slate of playable games on day one, even if that slate relies too heavily on games from the previous generations. 

Storage: 

The Series X comes with a standard 1tb of storage. I was able to download 34 games with room to spare, but one or two more big titles would have filled internal storage. The system does have a slot in the back for proprietary storage drives, which can expand storage by 2 to 8tb (arguably) affordably. 

Additionally, your older external hard drives that were compatible with the One can be used on the Series X, albeit with slower performance. These are plug and play, meaning that using them is incredibly easy.

Verdict: 

If you have an Xbox One there’s no pressing reason to upgrade right now, but upgrading brings lots of little perks that help make the Series X the best platform for playing Xbox games from any generation. It’s a powerful machine with a slick interface, quality controller, and great starting library of older games to keep you busy while you wait for the next enhanced release. If you’re on the market for an Xbox, you can’t go wrong with the Series X, just don’t expect something groundbreakingly different than the One. 

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