The Xbox One did not win me over this console generation. I’ve said a lot of bad things about the console since it came out, although suggesting that playing an Xbox One during pregnancy is dangerous to the fetus, might be the worst. I’ve made no secret about the fact that I play all my games on the PS4, that I’ve really enjoyed the PS4 Pro and that I’ve actually outfitted my entire family with Playstations so that we can all play together. A few years earlier I was a huge Xbox 360 fan and refused to even touch a PS3 controller. I was ready to love the Xbox One but it ended up being a big clunky device that couldn’t tell if it wanted to be my cable box or my game system. It felt slow and unfriendly to use and I don’t think I played it more than a handful of times. It’s a testament to his character that in spite of all this, Major Nelson still wanted me to have an Xbox One X a few days before release. It has honestly been years since I even thought about the Xbox but I decided to see what they had done since I left and what the new hardware had to offer. Just to be 100% clear, this was a free review version of the hardware given to me by MS. It was the same package they sent out to the big review sites from what I understand.
I should start by saying I’ve got the right setup for the Xbox One X. I have a curved Samsung TV that can do 4K and all the HDR lighting effects. I’ve been really impressed by the Playstation Pro and was curious how the Xbox One X compared. On paper the X is more powerful than the PS4 Pro and Jerry could tell you exactly why. What I can tell you, is that I had played Assassin’s Creed Origins on the Pro for about twenty hours. I booted it up on the Xbox One X just to see if I could tell a difference and I ended up restarting entirely. I spent the night catching back up to where I had been just because playing it on the X was so much better.
Back when Jerry and I lived together we would build our own computers. The difference was that he knew what he was doing and would pay more for the right hardware. On the other hand I had no idea what I was doing and bought the cheapest crap I could. I always loved playing the same game on his machine because it just felt so much better. Playing a game on the Xbox One X feels like playing it on a high end custom built gaming PC that your computer tech roommate built. Assassin's Creed Origins just screams on the X and the HDR lighting effects that were cool on the Pro are jaw dropping now. It never skips a frame even when you’re soaring around as Senu which is something the Pro struggled with. The game just looks stunning and runs like lightning. I replayed the first twenty or so hours and marveled at the same scenes I had just played on the PS4 Pro. It was like playing a different game honestly. Meanwhile the XBox One X itself is small and silent the entire time. I never even heard a fan kick on after playing it for hours.
The new user interface is a welcome improvement as well. I spent the weekend switching between games and trying to get comfortable with the new set up. Everything seemed to be where I expected it now. The things I wanted to do like check my friends list, or jump to another game were all just a click away. It seems to be a design that puts my games and what I’m currently playing front and center. The UI itself is snappy to and pops up quickly when summoned. It feels so much better to use than the old Xbox interface I was familiar with.
I took a look at a bunch of other games that had been enhanced for the Xbox One. All of the ones that I had played on my Pro, like the new COD ran better on the Xbox. Even games that don’t have an Xbox One specific update seem to be helped by the extra hardware although I found this much harder to discern. Destiny 2 feels smoother on the X but it’s really hard to tell unless I have them set up side by side...which I did. Halo 5 got a graphical bump and playing the Xbox One X version was definitely cool but I’m not sure I would do another play through at this point. Forza 7 was another Xbox exclusive that looks absolutely astonishing on the X. Exclusives are one thing but I have to say after looking at Assassin’s Creed the Xbox One X, this is where I will play all my multiplatform games from now on. Microsoft claims they have built the most powerful console available and after a weekend with the hardware I have to agree.
Lots of folks on Twitter really just want to know if they should upgrade. That’s a hard question for me to answer. I’d say if you have the television for it, the Xbox One X is a worthwhile upgrade. From what I understand you’ll see the benefit of the extra juice even if you can’t do 4k and HDR but I didn’t test this and honestly if you’re gonna shell out the money for the system you really should be seeing everything it’s capable of. I will tell you that I’ve played and own all the modern consoles at this point and the Xbox One X is in my opinion the most impressive. I am just amazed at how how much power they have packed into this small, silent box. My particular problem is that I have invested a significant amount of money in buying Playstations for my family. I had an incredibly hard time getting my kids and even Kara off the Xbox One X this weekend so that I could test it out. It’s true that I got this one for free but my guess is I’ll be buying my own here very shortly.
I texted Major Nelson about it over the weekend and just told him how impressed I was with the box. I had previously (half joking) said that the Xbox One was a “garbage system for trash people.” and I wanted to make sure he knew that I really loved this new hardware. I explained that it was so good, I was starting Assassin’s Creed over from the beginning just so I could play it on the Xbox One X. His last text message to me said “Welcome back to Xbox” and I’m not gonna lie to you, I got a little emotional. It feels good to love an Xbox again. It feels good to be back.