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Pop CultureNovember 3, 2017

Review: the Xbox One X – should this be on your list to Santa?


There’s a new version of the Xbox out and its makers reckon it’s the most powerful home console out there, complete with 4K output and very high FPS. José Barbosa gives the One X a hoon. 

Regardless of the context and circumstances, when you get your hands on a new console it’s a good buzz. This far into the the home gaming timeline consoles are starting to look like wee slabs of hardware art. Sleek, black as brushed obsidian and sitting next to my original 2001 Xbox, the One X is like a Tesla bunking with The Homer.

Not the Homer.

Which is about time, really; in my opinion previous Xbox versions have never really matched the smart lines of the Sony machines. The Xbox One is a brute of a thing and the first 360 looked like the sort of contraption you’d use to dispose of medical waste. And no more chunky power adapter – the PSU is inside the Xbox now which makes for a really nice tight wee package of a thing. They’ve got definitely got the surface things right: the One X looks hi-fi, like it’s been made for adults which is a rare, rare thing in consumer gaming tech.

Honestly, wtf even is this thing?

They’ve also, thankfully, updated the UI. It’s about time. The Xbox navigation system has mostly been a complete mess and I’ve hated just about every second I’ve had to hack my way through the seemingly endless screens of app tiles and menu lists. It’s particularly glaring when jumping from the Microsoft machine to the PS4. In comparison the Sony crossbar is like a swim in a glistening lukewarm lake; trying to move around the Xbox has been like falling down a well and never hitting bottom.

Luckily this time around they’ve simplified all the muck and it’s less of a headache to navigate. Basically you hit that big X button in the middle of controller and a window will pop up with everything you need. The rest of it is still a bit of a mess though, the home screen is unnecessarily busy in my opinion, but at least I can get to where I need to be with less fuss than before. However, at this point Microsoft should just admit defeat and adopt some of what Sony’s done with the PS4 system

The guts of the machine are a different story. Microsoft is right to crow that it’s the most powerful home console on the market. The specs check out. I’ve almost exclusively been playing the sprawling Assassin’s Creed Origins and it’s the first Creed game I’ve played on console or PC where time spent on loading screens is acceptable. And running around ancient Egypt in all its ultra detailed glory is as smooth as Egyptian silk. (Quick Origins review as we wait for a full write up: great refreshed and pared back version of the AC formula, will probably be the second AC game I will actually finish – the first being Black Flag.)

When you gotta go … (Assassin’s Creed Origins)

Microsoft has been pushing the 4K ‘extended’ capabilities of the One X in its marketing. I’ve only had the One X cranking on HD screens so far. We’ll post an update once we’re able to lug a 4K TV up the stairs to Spinoff Towers. Does anyone really need 4K? Maybe I’ll be convinced, but in the meantime Origins (one of the Xbox One X enhanced games) does look astounding. But has Microsoft thrown enough at the One X to make it the preferred top spec console over the PS4 Pro? Unfortunately I can’t give you a straight answer here.

Look at its hot guts!

You have to weigh the cost – the One X is roughly $150 more than the PS4 Pro – against the bump in performance. If that matters to you then you might have to think seriously about the new Xbox. But you might be swayed by game exclusively; after all, Breath of the Wild was more than enough for a lot of people to justify the investment in the Switch.

The reality is that the decision is basically a conscience vote. But the Xbox One X has enough going for it that, at least in my head, it’s going to be a very close vote.   

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