I’m sold on the Xbox Series X every time I boot it up. From hitting the button on the controller to being on the dash in about two seconds is still – weeks after getting my hands on the hardware – miraculous every single time.
There are all kinds of other benefits, of course. The games look better, even my old games, and load times are incredibly quick. I mean ‘no more checking Twitter’ kinds of fast, but I think it’s that near-instantaneous start-up that really sells me on the console.
Maybe that’s down to my specific circumstances as a dad of several kids, the youngest being three. My gaming time is sporadic – I might just get settled down to dive into the latest Destiny 2 expansion or my Yakuza: Like a Dragon adventure when *boom* someone wants my attention and I have to abandon it for a bit.
Gaming on a time budget was painful on the old consoles, with their long start-ups (outside the Switch, which isn’t that bad at all) and extended loading times in the games themselves. When you have 15 minutes to play something, you don’t want to waste a minute starting up the console and another minute or two loading into whatever game you’ve picked out. With the Series X, however, short gaming sessions are a lot more productive. I can get into a game and be playing in the time it used to take to start up the console – it’s, if you’ll pardon the awful pun, game-changing.
Also game-changing – literally – is Microsoft’s commitment to backwards compatibility. Not only did I log into my Series X day one with 1,159 games in my library ready to be played, but the majority of them look and run better than they did on past consoles – even the Xbox One X. The resolution and framerate upgrades were expected given the work the backwards compatibility team has put in on past hardware, and it was nice to see the improvements in games that had special attention paid to them, like Gears 5, but it was Auto-HDR, a newcomer to the feature set, that really impressed me.
HDR has been around since the 90’s, but it wasn’t until 2015 or so that it broke into what I’d call widespread adoption. Every Xbox console generation except the Series line predates that break in the adoption curve, so games from those gens didn’t support that expanded range – but now they do thanks to Auto-HDR. Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved on a good HDR television is amazing, for example, and that game came out in 2003. How does it work? I have no idea, but it really freshens up those older games – especially ones with a lot of vivid colours in their palette.
OK before I just ramble on the whole time, here’s my Xbox Series X review.