My launch-window Xbox One has been going pretty strong considering the amount of use it has seen. Several hours a day over the course of 7 years adds up, after all. Other than a faulty power brick in January of this year it’s held up well.
You see, while the console still technically runs the games I throw at it, it’s becoming plainly obvious that it’s out of its depth more and more. While I often rolled my eyes back around launch when players were fighting over 900p vs 1080p, having had a brief time with a One X and watching all the next gen goodness online I can’t help but notice just how…underwhelming a lot of titles look these days. Even those that I keep coming back to such as Fortnite, Rocket League or Halo 5 have me double checking I haven’t accidently loaded them up on my toaster. That’s not to say the artwork is bad, just that this aging machine pretty much constantly fails to do the titles justice.
It’s not just blurry visuals but the all important performance that is becoming more and more noticeable. I’ve been playing REDACTED for review this last few nights and I can tell there’s a good looking game under the Vaseline smear over the screen. And when there are multiple things on screen it’s almost unplayable in terms of the framerate. This is far from the only title that has these issues as well. From something like Apex Legends to the simplest of Indie titles my machine has developed a habit of hitching and lagging, even full on crashing at times. This is clearly inherent in any software but the allure of a new, vastly more powerful box has made these issues stand out even more lately.
Then there’s the loading, which is getting out of hand now. Playing with some friends using a One X I’m often the last to load into matches, missing lobbies entirely and appearing directly in the Battle Bus for example. Downloading games and updates on my super fast connection is all but pointless, as the HDD rarely lets me hit even half the potential speed it should be going at. Again, when I had a One X for a month the difference was night and day. And with the Series systems this looks to increase quite an order of magnitude again.
Watching the bigger outlets and YouTuber’s show off the Series X in action has only compounded my issues. Seeing them load into games in seconds, while enjoying high resolutions visuals and persistent, fluid framerates just makes this behemoth look even worse. I’m someone who likes to bounce between a few titles as well, so the multi-game quick resume is a feature that I will make use of to no end. This lumbering box can barely hold one game in a suspended state; several hours of OrangeBlood were lost over the weekend as I popped to the store to redeem a code. Coming back in I was forced to restart the whole game again. For something so simple.
My two kids have also developed a fondness for Minecraft, yet I’ve had to acquiesce from playing with them for one reason; adding a third player tanks the framerate to almost single digits, especially when they start building and adding in the things they want to. When they visit their aunt and play on her One S even that handles it more capably. Finally being able to join them on a Series X will – hopefully – mean this is no longer an issue.
Of course, I’m no Digital Foundry so my opinion is purely based on my feel rather than any hard metrics. I’d be very interested in them comparing the launch Xbox to the Series rather than the One X too – I suspect the comparisons would be even more stark across the board.
I feel like I’m being a bit too harsh on a box that has given me much joy over the years. From the incredible few months I spent with Titanfall, to getting my feet wet in the Battle Royal space, the countless awesome indie titles (Inside, Superliminal, Pinstripe, both Ori games and many, many more) and renewing my love for the Gears saga with the fifth entry, the Xbox One has had a far better time of things than a lot of naysayers out there would have you think. Sure, that initial reveal was a clusterfuck of poor decisions and Don Mattrick’s awful… well, just about everything. But under Phil Spencer and his incredible team the future is looking bright for our favourite console.
Of course, generally this would all be a moot point; new consoles bring new games with little chance to carry over our existing library. One of the biggest boons of the Series X|S is that everything that can currently be played on a Xbox One – bar Kinect titles – will work on the machine. That even includes Original Xbox and 360 titles that are currently under the back-compat program too. These get enhanced as well, from higher resolutions to improved performance and even a form of HDR! I’m hoping the line-up gets expanded a little (Lollipop Chainsaw is a title more people need to play!), but day one anything you might still be enjoying will work – and run better than ever. If you’re on an OG machine like me then the improvement will likely be transformative, especially if you’ve got an up-till-now unused 4K TV. Going back to Red Dead Redemption 2 will give an already stunning game new life, while going even further back to party favourite Fusion Frenzy will see it running and looking better than even the developers envisioned!
November 10th cannot come fast enough. Once we get hands on be sure to check back in with the Tavern for hands-on impressions and a full hardware review.