Hands on with the Xbox Series X

By Rory Cashin

November 5, 2020 at 2:27pm

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Hands on with the Xbox Series X

We've been playing with Microsoft's new console for a few weeks now. Here is our Xbox Series X review.

You're all here to read this Xbox Series X review to see whether or not you should invest in Microsoft's new console, but first, a few notes:

There are actually two new Xbox consoles being released. The digital-only version, the Xbox Series S, is also available for purchase, but we did not receive access to that console. Full details on the Series S can be found here.

We played the Series X on a 60-inch, 4K-capable TV, with a high-end sound system, which is really the best way to experience the next generation of consoles. Those without a decent audio-visual set-up may not get same results.

This reviewer has been a staunch PlayStation supporter since the "Microsoft VS Sony" console wars kicked off back in 2000, but have tried to remain unbiased for the sake of this review.

So, on with the Xbox Series X review below...

  • FIRST IMPRESSIONS

That big black monolith seemed oppressive when it was first revealed, but actually looks quite modern and stylish in person, and extremely minimalistic when placed next to the PS5. The potentially trypophobia-inducing top of the system does reveal the smallest amount of colour, and beneath it is that cooling fan that makes sure the temperature stays low and the console continues to run at a practically silent level. Overall, this is a sexy little black box that'll go with anything.

  • BACKWARDS COMPATIBILITY

As has been trumpeted before, the new console is able to play games from the Xbox One, the Xbox 360, and even the original Xbox. We'd been told of Auto HDR for previous games and generally better looking graphics, but it is only when actually playing a last-gen game on this next-gen console that you see the differences. Heavy-hitters like Gears 5 and Resident Evil 7 look ever sleeker, especially if playing on a capable TV.

  • LOADING SPEEDS

While still attached to an active power outlet, if you hit the power on the controller, you'll be waiting no more than five seconds to get back into the most-recent game you've been playing. It is truly a shockingly quick system to restart, and one of the many ways in which Xbox have put the wants of gamers to the forefront of the improvements during this new generation of consoles.

  • CONTROLLER

While it is technically possible to buy the addition for a recharger for your controller, it still feels very old-school to have the Xbox controller run off batteries. We're sure Xbox have their reasons for sticking with this format, but in a world where everything seems to be run off a charge, having to dig out batteries to keep playing seems quite antiquated. The controller itself doesn't seem to have moved on leaps and bounds from the previous generation controller either, but we suppose if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

  • VISUALS

The User Interface feels much easier to navigate than the previous UIs on Xbox systems, with your library, store, and apps all easy to source and simple to sort around. Once you dive into a game, especially one of the newer releases, you are presented with exceptional, cutting-edge visuals and audio. There always seems to be a specific kind of "realistic" game released upon a new console's launch - in this case, that game will likely be Dirt 5 - that show off the "are we sure this isn't real?" polish to the graphics, and that level of realism has been pushed even more this time around. Seriously, are we sure this isn't real?

  • GAMES PASS

For €1 for the first month, you'll get access to the Xbox Games Pass, and you'll be able to download and play dozens and dozens of great games, ranging from recent greats like Doom Eternal and Streets Of Rage 4, to not-so-recent-but-still-absolute-classics like Halo: The Master Chief Collection and Alien: Isolation. After that first month, the price increases to €12.99, but with the library within the Games Pass set to keep expanding month-on-month, it will be a must-subscribe for gamers. It will be especially useful for first-time-Xbox'ers, who may not have had access to previous game Xbox games, and you'll be experiencing them at their very best on the Series X.

  • LAUNCH GAMES

While there are some games being simultaneously released on the Xbox Series X and the Xbox One, and they'll obviously look better on this new console - Watch Dogs: Legion, Assassin's Creed Valhalla, and the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077 all come to mind - the one thing the new Series X doesn't have right now is a killer launch game all of its own. To be fair, most systems tend not to have amazing launch games, but there is nothing available right now that you absolutely MUST play on the Series X.

  • OVERALL

It becomes quickly apparent that Xbox have pivoted heavily towards gamers with the Series X, and the console is absolutely overflowing with potential. The graphical possibilities will have you drooling for the right game to come along and really push the envelope in what the system is capable of, especially with the likes of Bethesda (the creators of Fallout, Elder Scrolls, Doom, and loads more) announcing exclusivity deals with Xbox going forward. It truly does feel like a next gen gaming console, but without the actual next gen of games currently available. Once the game developers have caught up with what Xbox have done with the Series X, it will be unstoppable.

The Xbox Series X launches in Ireland from Tuesday, November 10.

Staying in? Lovin Dublin's Date Box meal kit is officially available to order. Go on and treat yourself!

READ NEXT: A full list of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X games available at launch

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