After months of waiting the Xbox One X is finally in our hands prior to its general release next Tuesday, and our first impressions are incredibly positive.
The first thing you notice when unboxing the Xbox One X for use is just how heavy it is. While it's about the size of an Xbox One S it feels like it weighs at least twice as much. It gives the impression of a solid, well built premium machine, and while our review unit is a standard console and not a snazzy Project Scorpio edition, it's quite nice to look at too.
Having the power brick built into the console itself, just like the Xbox One S, setting it up is as easy as simply removing the cables from your S unit if you have one and connecting them up to the Xbox One X instead. If you have an old Xbox One then you'll have to use the new power cable provided. In the box you also get a HDMI cable if you need it, a standard Xbox One control pad, and some trial codes for both Xbox Live Gold and Xbox Game pass.
When the moment comes to power the unit up, existing Xbox One owners will probably reel in bewilderment at the console's unique booting animation; a fancy reminder that you're not only booting up an Xbox One, but an Xbox One X. From there, however, it's business as usual once you've got it all set up, though all just a bit snappier than before.
The real joy of the Xbox One X begins when you boot up a game that has been patched to be Xbox One X enhanced. At the time of writing, some 20 games from our extensive library have received patches, and each and every one we've tried has impressed us. Gears of War 4 at native 4K looks absolutely sublime, with you being able to make out minute details from a great distance. Everything looks crisper, clearer, and what's more, it still runs super smooth.
The same can be said for the likes of Diablo 3 and Titanfall that have received little more than resolution boosts. On Xbox One X with a 4K TV you pick up on details that you've never noticed before, while jagged edges and framerate dips are totally eliminated. Xbox One games patched to support the Xbox One X don't just look enhanced, they look like they're being played on an entirely new console.
Halo 3. Left: Xbox One X, right Xbox One S. Here's the full 4K screenshot from Xbox One X, and here's the Xbox One S screenshot.
What's most impressive, however, is how games like Halo 3 run on the Xbox One X when patched. As an Xbox 360 game released fairly early on in the console's lifecycle, playing it on an Xbox One S enhances it somewhat but it still looks rough. On an Xbox One X though, it actually looks better than many games developed for current consoles. Textures are unbelievably sharp, aliasing is nearly non-existent, and 10-bit colour increases the depth of the graphics. It looks phenomenal. Fallout 3 looks rather impressive too; like it's running on a high-end PC rather than being emulated.
So, we've established that games patched to make use of the Xbox One X's power do so in spectacular fashion, but what about those that haven't received a patch? Well, the results are mixed. All games compatible with the Xbox One that haven't been patched to make use of the console's power - including Xbox 360 and original Xbox releases - benefit from enhanced texture filtering and forced v-sync. That means no screen tearing, and for many games a cleaner, sharper view of textures at mid-to-far range. As stated, results vary depending on the initial texture filtering method used, but in games like WRC 7 there's a clear benefit.
And that's not the end of it - framerates are improved too. Titles like Assassin's Creed Unity benefit the most, while those that have a dynamic resolution to meet a performance target essentially maintain their upper limit. Additionally, more RAM equates to faster load times. Installed on an external hard drive, Forza Horizon 3 loads around 20 seconds faster than it does on an Xbox One S, which is an improvement not to be sniffed at. The Xbox One X just makes playing Xbox One games better in general, even if you've not got a 4K TV with HDR yet; on a standard HDTV, games running at higher than 1080p will be supersampled for superior picture quality. No matter what games you play, they benefit from the extra grunt under the hood somehow.
I guess the big Xbox One X question is, is it worth £449.99/$499.99? And in our opinion the answer is yes, providing more games are patched to make full use of its capabilities. Microsoft states that around 70 titles will be Xbox One X enhanced in the week surrounding launch, and that possibly includes titles like Destiny 2 and Call of Duty WW2; copies of which were included in our Xbox One X press kit but haven't been announced as enhanced yet. Given how many developers have stated that it's easy to get their games running better on Xbox One X, we don't think support is going to be something to worry about.
The bottom line is that the Xbox One X is outputting visuals that only a PC twice its price could even think of doing. It provides the true next-gen experience that we've been waiting for in a box that's small, not bad looking and essentially silent. And even better, if you have a back catalogue of Xbox 360 and original Xbox titles, it can make those look better too - astonishingly so in some cases. The Xbox One X is a game-changer; here's hoping Microsoft capitalises on the strength of the machine it has created and now doubles down on its first-party efforts to well and truly show what it is capable of.
Want to find out more about the Xbox One X? Read our related articles below.
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