Xbox Sequence X evaluate: Microsoft recaptures the magic of the Xbox 360

If I judged Microsoft’s new online game console, the Xbox Sequence X, purely as a work of {hardware}, I’d best want one phrase: uninteresting.

The Xbox Sequence X is the antithesis of its predecessor, a console that proved to be many stuff, none of that have been uninteresting, despite the fact that a lot of that have been infuriating. Microsoft infamously spent its public expose of the Xbox One in 2013 speaking about the whole thing however video video games. The console mirrored the ones priorities.

The Xbox One featured a take hold of bag of technological gimmickry. During the first of all necessary Kinect peripheral, it is advisable regulate menus and apps with hand gestures and voice. The instruction handbook inspired new homeowners to run their cable field throughout the sport console, and voilà: The Xbox become a centralized media hub. A “snappable” consumer interface may just show MLB field rankings from one app whilst you surfed Netflix in any other window. Novelties prolonged past the {hardware} itself with initiatives like Microsoft’s SmartGlass app, a forgotten strive at “2nd display screen” integration, by which gamers would fumble with their pill whilst looking to revel in Halo.

With the Xbox Sequence X, Microsoft has, and not using a trace of subtlety, taken the other manner. Smart determination!

Xbox Series X video game console photographed on a dark gray background

The console nonetheless performs 4K extremely HD Blu-rays and runs a set of streaming leisure apps, however they’re tucked into folders and menus. There’s no Kinect this go-round, and the HDMI enter has been scrapped. Microsoft has constructed a console with one core center of attention, which is to play video games and to play them properly.

The purpose is extra sophisticated than it sounds, as nice technological answers frequently are. Up to now, gamers anticipated a online game console to holster new video video games after which play them. Motive and impact. However we now have other expectancies nowadays. A console must play discs, but additionally hook up with a web-based storefront. Video games must seamlessly replace whilst we’re asleep or busy at paintings. After we play video games on-line with pals, the brand new console must hook up with gamers nonetheless the usage of outdated {hardware} or competing consoles. And our save recordsdata from our outdated methods must simply paintings at the new one. The similar is going for our video games, and on new {hardware}, outdated video games preferably must run higher than they did ahead of. We would like our video games, knowledge, and reviews to switch with out friction or confusion, or worry that we’ll lose the rest within the procedure.

All of which is to mention, we’re spending extra money and extra time on video video games than ever ahead of, and the task of a brand new console is to recognize that. The worth of the Xbox Sequence X is difficult to hype up for the reason that console so elegantly delivers on those expectancies the least bit thrilling techniques.

Just about the whole thing simply works.

So, the Xbox Sequence X is uninteresting, however after a month with the console, I will say, with a bit of luck, that uninteresting is underrated. In truth, uninteresting is best.


Xbox-X video game console photographed on a dark grey background

Will have to I purchase an Xbox Sequence X?

OK, however must you purchase it? That’s the query, proper? I will believe two teams of people that must imagine purchasing the Xbox Sequence X presently:

Longtime Xbox enthusiasts who need the most productive revel in and pays for it.

Because of a sequence of flashy acquisitions, together with the in-progress acquire of Bethesda Softworks, the Xbox Sequence X will sooner or later have a smorgasbord of unique video games of various genres and scopes. However at release, it has no primary unique. None.

The Xbox Sequence X performs the similar video games as its predecessor, the Xbox One, simply higher, quicker, and at upper resolutions. There’s nearly 0 friction in making the jump from the previous to the current. After booting the Xbox Sequence X for the primary time, I signed into my profile, opened my sport library, and downloaded a dozen video games from the choice of the 100-plus titles that I’ve collected over the last decade and alter.

Every sport pulled save recordsdata that were uploaded to the cloud, and inside an hour of unpacking the console, I used to be proper the place I’d left off with my video games, whether or not I’d performed them every week in the past or a few years in the past.

At the Xbox Sequence X, each and every sport ran higher. The body charges have been upper, the weight occasions have been significantly shorter, and the gadget’s auto HDR capability stepped forward the colours (every now and then dramatically) in older video games that hadn’t been calibrated through their creators for the excessive dynamic vary lighting fixtures to be had on trendy televisions.

To chop the jargon: Enjoying video games from earlier consoles at the Xbox Sequence X is like dressed in rose-colored glasses. You spot video games the way you bear in mind them, now not because the slow-to-boot, graphically uneven reviews they in fact have been again then.

I additionally examined a handful of recent video games like Watch Canine: Legion on each the Xbox Sequence X and a high-end PC (with an Intel Core i9-9900Okay CPU and GeForce RTX 3080 GPU). Unsurprisingly, the PC variations ran higher and introduced extra techniques to fine-tune the visuals. However did they run such a lot higher as to justify the considerably upper price of the {hardware}? No. Now not even shut.

For this autumn, I strongly suggest making an investment in a console just like the Xbox Sequence X as an alternative of the most recent and biggest graphics playing cards. Within the subsequent couple of years, Nvidia and AMD will without a doubt unencumber new GPUs that humble the Sequence X — the present playing cards already do on paper. However for this second, AAA video games seem to be well-optimized for consoles. The revel in is smoother, inexpensive, and now not that a lot worse than what you’ll get on a setup that can price 4 to 5 occasions as a lot.

Online game rookies… who additionally need the most productive revel in and pays for it.

For other people who don’t have already got an overflowing library of Xbox video games, the Xbox Sequence X is the most productive gadget for the usage of Xbox Recreation Move, Microsoft’s “Netflix however for video video games.” If you happen to subscribe to Recreation Move, you’ll have get entry to to a few hundred video games around the Xbox generations, in conjunction with each and every new sport revealed through Microsoft.

You’ll get giant franchises, like Halo, Gears of Warfare, and Forza. You’ll get medium-sized video games, like State of Decay and Ori and the Will of the Wisps. You’ll get classics like Fantasy 2 and indie darlings like CrossCode and Ikenfell.

At the Xbox Sequence X, all of those video games run to near-maximum attainable. I say “close to” for the reason that Sequence X isn’t as robust as a among the best gaming PC, despite the fact that once more, the console prices a fragment of the associated fee and spares you the a lot of complications many of us (myself integrated) nonetheless revel in with PC gaming, regardless of the strides it has made in simplicity and reliability.

So the ones are Microsoft’s perfect shoppers. At the turn facet, I will believe many teams of people that do not have the Xbox Sequence X. A brief and incomplete listing:

Individuals who don’t personal a 4K TV and don’t plan to get one within the close to long term.

The Xbox Sequence X was once designed for 4K gaming (and 8K video). In truth, the console is so robust that a few of its options gained’t even paintings on older 4K TVs. To benefit from the console’s skill to play video games at 120 frames in step with 2nd, for instance, you’ll desire a very new, very high-end tv just like the LG CX.

Individuals who these days personal an Xbox One, particularly an Xbox One X, and do not have and even need to play video games at most settings at this very second.

Commendable! As a tradition, online game enthusiasts have a tendency to fixate on the most recent and the most productive. However for now, just about each and every Xbox sport will paintings simply high quality for your current {hardware}.

Individuals who already personal a among the best gaming PC.

An ideal PC can do the vast majority of what the Xbox Sequence X can do, and frequently higher. Take advantage of your $2,000-plus funding.

Individuals who need to get into video video games (for the primary time or after a protracted hiatus) however are utterly cool with a fairly much less robust console that prices much less.

If all of this phase reads like phrase salad, you almost certainly will want the inexpensive, much less robust Xbox Sequence S, which prices $200 lower than the $499.99 Sequence X, however performs the similar video games and has many of the identical new options that the Xbox One lacks. (You’ll be told extra concerning the Xbox Sequence S in Polygon’s evaluate through my colleague Maddy Myers.)

Don’t mistake those caveats as a pointy grievance of the Xbox Sequence X. They’re fairly the other. That the Xbox Sequence X is senseless for a swath of avid gamers displays Microsoft’s accommodating (despite the fact that rarely altruistic) technique to video video games. Now not does the corporate create one fancy, new, dear field that intends to take over your lounge. Xbox is now a model, and the console is simply one of the supply strategies for all of its intangible merchandise and concepts.

Y’know, I suppose calling the Xbox Sequence X uninteresting is like calling celery uninteresting even if it’s coated in peanut butter. True, positive, but additionally lacking the purpose.

Recreation Move is the Xbox Sequence X’s killer app

So sure, the controller is just about just like its predecessor, barring the past due addition of a seize button. And Microsoft hasn’t made any important adjustments to the consumer interface.

However!

However the Xbox Sequence X connects you to Microsoft’s online game microverse, and it’s these days the very best, most enticing, and maximum reasonably priced approach of taking part in video video games.

Xbox Recreation Move gives a better worth than anyone release sport. For $9.99 a month, homeowners of Xbox consoles from the Xbox One onward get get entry to to loads of video games, together with each and every new Microsoft name, like the approaching Halo Endless. As Microsoft acquires further studios and paperwork extra partnerships, this carrier will develop even higher like when Microsoft closes its acquisition of Bethesda, the writer of franchises comparable to Doom, The Elder Scrolls, and Fallout. For folks with a restricted price range, Recreation Move is the most suitable choice for stretching each and every greenback whilst nonetheless taking part in a number of forged video games.

Microsoft additionally gives a $14.99 tier of the carrier referred to as Recreation Move Final, which incorporates the Xbox video games, a choice of Digital Arts classics and new releases, and a library of Home windows PC video games. Recreation Move Final subscribers may additionally circulate positive video games onto Android cell units. It’s nonetheless early days for that carrier, xCloud, however its very lifestyles helps the argument that Microsoft doesn’t care the place folks play video games or on what platform, as long as it’s throughout the Xbox services and products. Perhaps that’s the Xbox Sequence X. Or perhaps some other people will best revel in the following Halo throughout the Xbox app.

For other people preferring to shop for video games, Microsoft nonetheless helps Xbox Play Any place, which, for positive titles, permits Xbox sport homeowners to play the PC model totally free. And as I discussed previous, all the above services and products benefit from cloud saves, so growth from one platform to the following is seamless and frustration-free.

The Xbox Sequence X’s fancy graphics are bested through quality-of-life enhancements

Having bounced between platforms whilst reviewing the Xbox Sequence X, I should say that I like it above my different choices. Caught at house all the way through the pandemic, I hardly ever use my Android telephone for streaming video games. My PC is sweet, however after paintings, I want time at the sofa. The Xbox Sequence X has spoiled me with the snap-fast loading occasions in comparison to its predecessor, and the graphics that take complete benefit of our “great” TV, relatively than the 10-year-old 1080p show in my place of business, which had sufficed for the Xbox One and PlayStation Four technology.

With none new exclusives, I’ve spent maximum of my time revisiting favorites, like Crackdown, Fusion Frenzy, and Hydro Thunder Storm. The console’s auto HDR characteristic makes them colourful. Load occasions at the classics are just about nonexistent, giving them a brand new power and tempo that I like. An actual pep of their step.

As for brand new video games designed to benefit from all this energy, I’ve dug into Grime 5, Watch Canine: Legion, and Yakuza: Like a Dragon. The video games themselves are stress-free continuations of 3 dependable collection. They give the impression of being noticeably nicer than their opposite numbers at the Xbox One, specifically Watch Canine: Legion’s ray-traced lighting fixtures (a posh manner of claiming that it seems extra life like). However in truth, the visible standouts had been Microsoft’s contemporary first-party video games. Gears 5 and Forza Horizon 4 glance impressive, the latter particularly. Developer Playground Video games’ digital United Kingdom is overflowing with stone fences, lovable cottages, and one of the crucial best possible skies in video video games, and the sport runs clean as butter, whilst you zip throughout the nation-state at 150 mph. Those are the 2 maximum spectacular video games at the console lately, and taking into consideration what number of people skipped Microsoft’s exclusives within the remaining technology, they’ll as properly be brand-new releases for thousands and thousands of attainable gamers.

The visible enhancements are related to these of earlier generational leaps: reasonably easy graphical upgrades at release, giving the whole thing a pleasant paint task. We gained’t see the true attainable of this {hardware} for a few years, as builders learn to optimize it to its complete features.

Till then, the Xbox Sequence X merits reward for its considerable quality-of-life enhancements — particularly, its very good garage gadget. The console’s 1 TB SSD is constructed with the “Xbox Speed Structure,” which is a foolish advertising time period that interprets to: Rattling, video games load quick. Like, wowza. If you happen to haven’t used NVMe SSDs on a PC, the dramatically shortened load occasions might be a revelation. Previous video games load virtually instantaneously. The gadget itself boots in seconds. And I will hop into huge open-world video games like Watch Canine: Legion so briefly that after the weight display screen seems, I now not instinctively take a look at my telephone to kill time. And if, like me, you’ve got a brief consideration span, the console’s Fast Resume characteristic, which helps you to impulsively change between video games and apps anyplace you left off, is a godsend.

Does any of this make for a splashy industrial? Nope. But it surely does make for a competent, satisfying revel in. The console disappears, letting me center of attention at the video games. That’s the purpose.

close-up of the vent on an Xbox Series X video game console photographed on a dark gray background

Xbox Sequence X: It simply works

The Xbox Sequence X looks as if an Xbox One who swallowed a fridge, and runs like an Xbox One who swallowed a Lambo. It’s quick, strong, and unobtrusive, its objectives and features encapsulated in its brutalist commercial design.

Its fresh, the PlayStation 5, comes with a futuristic new controller and a space-age console design that appears like an deserted Epcot pavilion. It seems and looks like a vacation spot, as a result of it’s: Sony’s long term lives on its newest console. In a similar way, the minimalist design of the Xbox Sequence X speaks to Microsoft’s personal ambitions. Behold, the online game similar of the monolith in 2001: A House Odyssey. A large, blunt brick that radiates energy.

The Xbox Sequence X isn’t the house of Microsoft’s gaming universe; it’s simply one of the nodes, connecting outward for your telephone, your pill, your laptop, or only a other (and less expensive) Xbox. It’s now not the position to play video video games. It’s a position to play video video games now not best from the longer term, but additionally from the existing and the previous.

The Xbox Sequence X is uninteresting. I wouldn’t have it some other manner.

The Xbox Sequence X might be launched international on Nov. 10. This evaluate was once carried out with a last retail Xbox Sequence X supplied through Microsoft. Vox Media has associate partnerships. Those don’t affect editorial content material, despite the fact that Vox Media would possibly earn commissions for merchandise bought by the use of associate hyperlinks. You’ll to find further details about Polygon’s ethics coverage right here.

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