November 7th 2017. The day gaming changed. The day the most powerful console ever created hit the world. The day when teraflops meant something and proper full 4K gaming become a reality.
The day Xbox One X arrived.
By now you should all know the history of the Xbox ecosystem and just what One X promises. But for those not fully ingrained in the Xbox way of life, let me run through a few quick things.
2001 saw the original beast of a console hit the market, taking on the might of PlayStation with a system that promised much. Online gaming, or at least online gaming as us console players know it, was in its infancy and the world was ready for a new console war.
Whether Xbox won or lost that battle is up for debate, but the original console paved the way for the hugely popular Xbox 360 to take things on to another level, before, back in 2013, Xbox One came to the table. With things heating up between Xbox and PlayStation, Sony threw the first punch in mixing things up even further with the introduction of PS4 Pro and a load of VR fanciness.
But now, here in 2017, Xbox are fighting back. And my god they’ve delivered something rather awesome to the market. A pitch black slab of gaming goodness, one that is powered by the already iconic Project Scorpio chip, Xbox One X ensures that the Xbox name is, yet again, forging forward in the console race.
Power, no matter how we look at it, is a good thing. But that power in itself is useless without a full system behind it, and a reason for being the most powerful console the world has ever seen. So how does Xbox One X fare? Well, if you’ve splashed a rather considerable amount of cash towards it, you’re not going to be disappointed. But similarly, sat here now, staring at a screen that is oozing with the most beautiful of 4K HDR filled visuals, it still feels like a proper shot across the bows of the enemy has been missed.
Don’t get me wrong, Xbox One X is a mighty impressive addition – but it’s not a game changer. From the tiny footprint, its whisper quiet running sound and the power it brings, all is good in the world. But there’s a little part of me that would have liked to have seen Xbox take things a little further; to take things to a level in which those gamers on other systems just wouldn’t be able to ignore.
Let me tell you why.
You see, from the minute I opened the well created box, and dragged out the Xbox One X Project Scorpio Edition, its customised Scorpio controller and the redeemable codes for 14 days of Xbox Live Gold and a whole month’s worth of temptation in the Xbox Games Pass, it is obvious that a huge amount of thought, effort, detail and love has gone into this console.
The exterior oozes quality, with the USB port on the front and physical power button being well placed. The UHD Blu-ray drive slot is hidden away lovingly too; so lovingly in fact that unless you head on in with the deepest most detailed look, you’d hardly notice it even being there.
The Project Scorpio logo sits proudly to the left of the face of the console and an all important venting system covers the sides. Around the back and One X comes with all the ports you would expect – HDMI in and out, an Optical output, an IR sensor, a couple more USB opportunities, an ethernet port and that all important power input.
Gone is the old power brick that was once required to ensure gaming could take place, with this instead seemingly integrated inside the console. The sheer weight of this little console seems to point at that being the case.
There is no Kinect port either, and whilst that won’t be an issue to many, if you are one who still enjoys the magic of motion and voice control, you’ll instead need to go down the same route as Xbox One S owners, grabbing a Kinect adapter and utilising one of the USB ports.
So far then, so Xbox. But then as we power One X up, we quickly begin to see what lies within.
With the usual startup out of the way and previous Xbox settings, games and apps ported over in a cinch (if you so wish), you may initially fail to spot much in the way of change. But get an Xbox One X enhanced game fired up and your jaw will drop… not only at the majestic full 4K visuals, but at the decreased loading times and overall smoothness that is delivered.
The cars of Forza 7 will pop from your screen, Assassin’s Creed Origins will have you thinking you really are in deepest Ancient Egypt and even the likes of indie titles Assault Android Cactus and Danger Zone will be enhanced to visual levels you may not have felt were possible. Even the Xbox dashboard and homepages are buttery smooth and much simpler to navigate through.
I can sit here right now and honestly say I have absolutely no issues with any of the One X improvements that have come about. At the same time though, I just wish things had been pushed a bit further.
In fact, I wish the pitiful 1TB of onboard storage was at least double and preferably more. I wish the included controller had been given a bit more of an overhaul – not down the Elite lines, but with a little something to make it stand out as an X controller. On a more personal level, I also wish that there were already One X exclusive games in place to really push this hardware to the nth degree, and I’d kill for a slightly cheaper console that does away with the disk drive completely. Gamers around the world really need to embrace the digital onslaught even more than they currently are.
Coming from an Xbox background that has seen me purchase every single generational upgrade on day one, Xbox One X could well have pushed things on a bit further. Perhaps the technology for a full-on leap isn’t quite there, but it would have been nice to have seen more than the single tentative step it has taken. But instead I’m left to sit here and enjoy faster loading times, improved visual qualities and the knowledge that I now own the most powerful console the world over. And that ain’t really too bad at all you know.
So, I guess that brings us to crunch time – should you be buying into Xbox One X?
Well, if you are new to gaming or have just purchased an ever cheapening 4K TV, then it’s a bit of a no brainer and I’d urge you to seek out this stunning console immediately. However, if you’re a current Xbox One gamer then I’m not sure the small enhancements are really worth the price tag asked. I mean, the visuals are lovely and all that – and once you’ve gone 4K, you really won’t ever want to go back – but it’s not like the latest and greatest games didn’t look stunning anyways. The load time differences are, quite honestly, neither here nor there and are certainly not worth worrying about. Whether that changes going forward is anyone’s guess though and I hope and pray that Xbox One X gamers will, at some point, see considerably less waiting time than they currently are getting. But that’s been said with every passing year of my near 40 years of gaming. And it never really materialises.
The really big question surrounding this super powerful console from Xbox though is quite the simple one. Will Xbox One X make PS4 players jealous enough to tempt them over the line and into enemy territory?
The answer is just as simple. No. Unfortunately.