Xbox Series X Console review

Having now spent a little over a week with my Xbox Series X, I?m overall pretty happy with my purchase, albeit a bit jealous of those that are able to play certain console exclusives on the other side of the fence. Still, despite having a lack of what feels like *new* experiences on the Series X, I find myself constantly impressed by the upgrade in visual fidelity, load times, and snappier user interface, along with other small bells and whistles that make this console feel like a worthy upgrade to the Xbox One and Xbox One X.

Let?s start with that system-level U.I. While not drastically different than the Xbox One or Xbox One X, it is far more responsive on the Series X. It?s pretty easy and painless to move between your apps and games, the store interface, settings, or any other menu options present. There?s no real delay or lag felt, which automatically makes it an upgrade compared to the U.I. in the previous Xbox generation of consoles. 

The hardware upgrade is immediately seen and felt when revisiting your game library or the 100 plus games available on Game Pass. Even if you load up a game that hasn?t been ?enhanced? for Series S or X, you?ll immediately see a noticeable difference in load times thanks to the SSD upgrade. Also, a number of releases will now enable auto-HDR, including original Xbox classics like Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. Sure, it still looks like an Xbox game, but boy oh boy is it a crisp looking Xbox game.

For the enhanced games like Gears of War 5, Ori and the Will of the Wisps, and many others, the visual and framerate upgrades are even more apparent. I wasn?t actually sure how well I?d adjust or even notice the difference between 60 frames per second or 120 frames per second in something like Ori, but the difference really did stand out to me. It?s honestly an amazing effect to see in a console and something that I?d encourage everyone to check out if they have a TV capable of displaying at that framerate. 

The new Series X controller is a little less apparent as far as upgrades go, certainly less so than the PS5?s Dual Sense, but it is an upgrade nonetheless. The textured grips on the back of the controller feel good to hold, the added texture on the triggers is also nice, and I love the new and improved d-pad. Is it a little clicky? Sure, but it?s far more responsive and more in line with Xbox One Elite controllers which is a plus. 

The SSD drive for Series X might be one of the bigger game-changers for this console generation (also present on PS5) considering how drastically load times are now reduced. Playing through Assassin?s Creed Odyssey on an Xbox One X and then playing on a Series X makes for a dramatic improvement, with quick 5 to 6-second loads when jumping around between quick travel points on the map screen. This also applies to older, non-enhanced titles, eliminating the need for loading tip screens altogether. This won?t be new news for PC gamers, but for console players, it?s a big change. 

As of now, my only real issue with the Series X is that it?d be nice to have some sort of ?killer app? at launch. With Halo Infinite getting pushed back, you?re sort of stuck with cross-generation third party releases for now, or the option to revisit older first-party titles from your library or Game Pass. There are plenty of things to check out and enjoy, but you also can?t help but feel a little bummed out by no big, first-party megahit to show off your fancy new hardware. Obviously, this will automatically get resolved as time goes on, but it?s worth mentioning if you?re on the fence about purchasing the console this year instead of waiting for more new games down the line. 

Outside of that, I find myself very happy with the Series X, and I?m glad that I?ve got the opportunity to mess around with at least one new console this year. Now if I can just get to the checkout screen with a retailer when a PS5 drop happens, I?ll be set. 

Grade: A-