Behold! The Xbox Series X

The video game awards are good for one thing, announcements. You don’t see a new Marvel or Star Wars trailer drop at the Oscars because that’s what the Superbowl is for. So lets give the game awards some credit. Everything else doesn’t really matter. Award shows on the surface is a celebration of the medium. Behind the curtain it is rewarding big gaming corporations for successfully campaigning to big and small media outlets. It’s just like every other award show.

Does anyone really care that The Outer Worlds got shut out? I’m sure it sold well and it received glowing reviews so they’re winners in my eyes. But lets not talk about who won or lost lets talk about that tiny little announcement Microsoft made: the next gen Xbox is coming next fall/winter.

The Name

Phil Spencer said the new Xbox’s name will define it’s purpose. You know what’s it called. Say it with me: Xbox Series X. Not Xbox One X. Did the executives of Mountain Dew and the WWE from the Attitude era take over Microsoft’s gaming division? Isn’t this obsession with the letter X a little over the top?

So what is the purpose of naming it Series X? One of the rumors for the Scarlet project was a 3 tier model system. This means Microsoft was going to release a base, intermediate, and expensive “luxury” model of the new Xbox. Apparently the Series X is the luxury model and the weaker models were dropped. The question is what comes next in the series? Are we buying a new Xbox every two years? Can we customize our Xbox? So many questions but it’s sure fun to speculate.

I hate the name. Series X is dumb. Maybe if you didn’t name your previous console the Xbox One X this might make sense.

What’s Under the Hood

The Xbox Series X is being touted as twice as powerful as the Xbox One X. It features an 8 core CPU at around 3.5Ghz. 16Gb of GDDR6 Ram and a NVMe SSD. It contains a custom GPU but there’s not a lot of information about it so it’s hard to compare it. Chances are it will be very very powerful.

We are also promised 8K resolution of 120 FPS and it starting to sound like Microsoft would install a Nuclear reactor into this if they could. This box has a lot of muscle and I’m sure it’s getting a lot of gaming nerds excited just like a Hellcat version of the Dodge Challenger would get some gear-heads excited.

The Xbox Series X in car form

That’s all well and good but there’s still one issue. What about the games? We did see a trailer for the Hellblade sequel called, Senua’s Saga. It looks like garbage. I mean if we considered garbage to be flawlessly beautiful art in motion. We’re not looking at the game but an “in-engine” render of the game. Get ready to hear the term “rendered in-engine” a lot when these next gen games are being previewed. It’s their way of saying this isn’t the game but look at the fancy two minute movie the game engine can create.

We’ve fallen for this before. I’m not saying we are being lied to but I am saying do not to take these previews seriously until we see what it actually looks like. If I had an air conditioned room full of PC towers I could render a beautiful two minute film using Blender which is a free open source 3D modelling/animation program. To be fair I could render a beautiful two minute film if I hired people who knew what they were doing. The point is it would still be a two minute film not a video game and not a sample of game play. I don’t care if it’s “in-engine” that means it took a long time to render and it’s the prettiest a programmed animation can possibly look. It’s not the game.

These “in-engine” game previews will not be exclusive to Microsoft. Sony just dropped their Ghosts of Tsushima trailer at the same award show. Look closely at the screenshot.

Microsoft was busy during this current generation obtaining different studios so I expect a lot better exclusives this time around. When you construct a console with this much muscle that’s fine but gamers still want to play games. 8K and 120 FPS won’t mean much if Microsoft doesn’t have the exclusive games to back it up.

The Look

I really like the minimalist approach. I can’t help but notice a Blu-Ray slot for disks so it looks like this generation isn’t done with hard copies yet. The PC tower look gives it the ability to cool the console down using the cooling fan at the top. If the fan runs at a consistant low speed it should keep the console cool and best of all quiet. My PS4 started sounding like a vacuum cleaner when I’d play heavy games like God of War and Horizon: Zero Dawn. I wasn’t willing to take any chances so I picked up a third party cooling fan.

The controller looks almost the same with a few minor additions. The plus pad looks like they combined the Elite controller and the peasant controller plus pad. The middle of the controller now sports a share button like the PS4. Other than that it is still the same controller and thank goodness for that. I love the Dual Shock but it’s hard to argue against the Xbox’s near perfect design.

Backwards Compatibility

This is going to be a huge selling feature and I think Sony will follow suit. Apparently the Xbox One controllers will be compatible with the Series X and that is a fantastic customer friendly feature. I have two Xbox One controllers so when I get the Series X I’ll have three controllers on day one.

Xbox, Xbox 360 and Xbox One games are supposed to work on the Series X. I’m not sure if we will have to wait for updates to play certain games or I can play Fuzion Frenzy on day one. Either way this is a feature all gaming fans have been waiting for so score another one for Microsoft. Can I play digital games I’ve purchased on my Xbox One on the Series X? No answers for that yet but fingers are crossed.

In Conclusion

I had a sneaky suspicion that Microsoft would have their ears to the ground instead of their heads in the sand this time around. Last generations Xbox One reveal was a joke and it looked like Microsoft was in deep trouble. They survived the red light of death fiasco and had some pretty harsh backlash over their anti-customer used game policy.

Now they’ve released a powerful beast with a sleek game trailer and I am excited. I really hope for their sake they hold on to the momentum and not screw it up. No Kinect or stupid motion controllers, no second glass nonsense and no pre-owned game pay walls. Just give us the games baby.

Over to you Sony.

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