We all knew 2020 was going to bring with it an entirely new generation of console gaming, but the extent of what that really meant for consumers was never really clear. In the case of Microsoft and Xbox, the new generation signalled a very important opportunity to turn the disenchantment with the brand around following a lacklustre generation with Xbox One. We’ve been patient and the time is here for the new hardware to finally “wow” us or once again leave us starved for content – and while we won’t really know what to expect on the software front for months (or even years), Xbox Series X is undoubtedly a noticeable upgrade for the home console crowd.
So, what’s so different about it? Why should you care? What can you even play? To answer the first question in that self-inflicted series of three, it’s a very powerful machine. It’s double the teraflops of the Xbox One X, with Xbox Series X clocking in at a whopping 12 teraflops. Add in other noticeable jumps like 120FPS potential and 8K resolution capabilities, and the Series X is a clear step up from the already impressive tech featured in its successor. So, why should you care? I don’t know. Maybe you don’t and that’s fine. But if you care about power and capabilities, Microsoft’s latest hardware sure as hell doesn’t hold any punches. Finally, what can you play? Well, everything.
Okay, well not EVERYTHING. But Microsoft has taken what I can only describe as an overwhelmingly pro-consumer stance with its entire Xbox ecosystem – and the Xbox Series X isn’t exempt from this philosophy. The system can play titles from Xbox, Xbox 360 and Xbox One without any issues. Hell, in many instances, these games run better than they ever have before on Series X. That means I can still enjoy a rousing game of Fusion Frenzy then jump into my Viva Piñata garden to establish some semblance of inner zen before booting up Gears 5. If it has been on Xbox in the past (and it already runs on Xbox One) then you’re good to go.
A lot of these titles are enhanced on the system too, with several receiving upgrades to better utilize the enhanced tech. The aforementioned Gears 5 is one of the biggest games to do so at launch, providing gamers with enough incentive to go back and play through the campaign or tear through some multiplayer matches. Most other games follow this trend of cross-generational improvements, with Microsoft securing other launch day offerings like Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Yakuza: Like A Dragon and Gears Tactics that all run better on the new system.
Meanwhile, existing titles like Sea of Thieves, Ori and the Will of the Wisps, and even Marvel’s Avengers all carry on into the next generation with noticeable improvements – be they a reduction in load times, additional polish, or a higher frame rate. And, in most cases, it’s all of the above. Combine this additional power with Xbox Game Pass and there’s no shortage of games to be played, but this is somewhat of a double-edged sword in the sense that there’s no truly exclusive experience on Series X at this point in time.
Instead, consumers are buying into a box/ecosystem with all of the potential in the world. A lot of what comes next depends on Microsoft and its ability to put out worthwhile content this generation, with Halo Infinite being a focal point for the company in 2021. Whether or not this (and future releases) end up being the homerun fans are hoping it will be remains to be seen, but everything is in place for a really solid future for fans.
At the very least, Xbox Series X is a massive and noticeable changeup for anyone upgrading from the Xbox One – but that might not be immediately apparent in its library or feature set. The operating system remains the same (albeit with a few new dynamic background options) and the library continues onto the new platform. This is a worthwhile step in the sense that everything comes with you to the new generation, and things are only going to get better as new software begins to better take advantage of the tech it finds itself on.
With major acquisitions like Bethesda already playing out, it’s clear that Microsoft is at the very least taking the industry seriously in 2020 – although we still aren’t clear on exactly what that means. Still, I can’t help but be excited by the improvements to my existing library and the potential to see it grow on Xbox Series X.
Xbox Series X arrives on store shelves this November 10, 2020. Microsoft provided Okay, Cool with an Xbox Series X for review purposes.
You can find Riley on Twitter at @TheRileyLittle where he usually tweets about video games. Like, a lot of the time he’s doing that.