When, what, who, what, where… okay, not quite the 5 W’s
The Xbox One X finally launches this week, November 7th, and if reviews are anything to go by (I mean, that’s their sole purpose) it’s proving to live up to its claim of being the most powerful console on the market. But if you’re still unfamiliar with the Xbox One X then fret not as we’ve got your back.
The Xbox One X was first revealed during Microsoft’s E3 conference back in 2016. The then named Project Scorpio was announced pretty much in name alone, and even then it was just a codename, but one thing was for certain, this machine was aiming to pack a punch. Fast forward to March of this year when Digitial Foundry got invited to Seattle to see a working Xbox One X development kit running a tech demo built on the Forza Motorsport engine. Initial impressions were that, yes, this console was indeed the business but it wasn’t until June before us mere mortals finally saw it in action during E3 2017. Microsoft’s E3 2017 conference drilled home that the Xbox One X was an incredibly powerful piece of kit and backed up this claim by showing a ridiculous amount of enhanced content to whet the appetites of gamers across the globe.
Whilst the conference was largely a success there was initially some confusion surrounding the new console, in particular, who it was really aimed towards. The main selling point of the Xbox One X was that it was going to play games in ‘true 4K’ and only those with a 4K TV would really benefit from the additional power. This left the rest of us with the option of the Xbox One S (or PS4 but Phil wasn’t going to say that was he). Shortly after, and somewhat contradictory, it was then said that people with 1080p TVs would, in fact, see a benefit if they purchased the Xbox One X. These mixed messages were blown out of proportion by the pesky media further adding to the overall confusion of just what the Xbox One X was. Fortunately, now that we’re just a day away from launch, the answers are here and the message is much clearer.
What is the Xbox One X?
The Xbox One X is to the Xbox One as the PS4 Pro is to the PS4. It’s not a new console, instead, it’s more of an evolution of its previous iteration. The Xbox One X will play all Xbox One games better across the board with specific titles receiving an enhanced updates. The main enhancement for the Xbox One X is the native 4K support which was the primary driving force behind the new console and the reason for the infamous 6 Teraflops. We now know that developers aren’t forced to support the native 4K resolution and can instead purpose the beefed-up internals however they choose, be it for resolution, increased frame rate or a simply better-looking game. Regardless of their direction, all of this means that games will look and play better on the Xbox One X which you’d bloody well hope for considering what it’s packing under the shell.
One of the biggest surprises of the Xbox One X reveal was the size of the console. The Xbox One X is incredibly small, matching a more or less identical size to the Xbox One S but overall being slightly smaller. The console’s style also matches the Xbox One S but instead sports a matte black exterior rather than the S’s white one. Gone are any references to the behemoth that was the original Xbox One, which is now officially discontinued. #neverforget.
But why the shock with the size? Well, the Xbox One X has around 4.3x the graphical power of the original Xbox One and runs a 30% faster CPU. This equates to a machine that has 6 Teraflops of power vs the 1.3 Teraflops available on the original Xbox One. The differences are that great yet it’s all packed neat & tidy into a genuinely great-looking chassis and without the power brick that was bundled with the original box. The two Xbox One consoles now sit comfortably together as part of the Xbox One family with one catering to the hardcore gamers and the other to casuals (yeah, I hate that term but roll with it). The unification of these two consoles and the driving force behind them means that the all-in-one media-centre is well and truly dead with games now at the forefront of Xbox’s vision. That’s not to say the Xbox One X doesn’t support 4K UHD Blu-rays, it does. In fact, here’s all of the technical gubbins that makes up the Xbox One X.
- 8-core Custom AMD CPU clocked at 2.3GHz
- 6 Teraflop GPU
- 12GB GDDR5 of memory
- 326GB/s of memory bandwidth
- 1TB HDD
- 4K UHD Blu-ray Optical Disc Drive
- HDMI 2.0b (out), 2160p @ 60Hz, AMD FreeSync
- HDR10 Support
Who is the Xbox One X for?
This was certainly up for debate when the console was first announced but now the target market is clear. It’s pretty much for everyone.
We now know that owners of 1080p & 720p TVs will definitely have an improved experience with the Xbox One X over the Xbox One/S. Whilst those without 4K TVs will obviously miss out on the full 4K experience the console makes use of supersampling techniques for these smaller TVs. Supersampling ensures that the ultra HD resolution is downscaled nicely onto your TV without impacting the overall visual quality. This means that those without 4K TVs will still be able to enjoy the high-quality Xbox One X content and will also benefit from visual upgrades such as fewer on-screen jaggies. The increased graphical enhancements such as better draw-distance or higher, more stable, FPS will also be present for those without 4K setups.
That all said it really is the 4K TV owners that will benefit the most from the Xbox One X. 4Kers will be treated to a much clearer image, as expected, and those with HDR enabled TVs will also benefit from a richer colour palette, something that the Xbox One S also has support for. It’s worth noting that some games won’t support native 4K but of those, the majority will make use of dynamic resolution or 4K checkerboarding, which all equates to better visual fidelity on 4K TVs.
But who is the Xbox One X for? Well, as I said previously, it really is for everyone, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll want to jump in right away. The Xbox One X is for a gamer that is looking for the premium console experience especially one that owns a 4K TV. Whilst speculatory at the moment, although pretty much a certainty with its spec, it’s assumed that the Xbox One X will also play third-party games better than any other console on the market. So if you’re somebody that wants the best of the best from their console, grab an Xbox One X. If you’re happy enough with your base Xbox One, PS4 or PS4 Pro and you’re not that bothered about higher resolutions or upgraded visuals it’s definitely worth holding fire until there’s more content to pique your interest. Speaking of which.
What can you play on the Xbox One X?
I’ll not beat around the bush here. The Xbox One is lacking in exclusive content department, even more so if you’re the owner of a gaming PC. Quite frankly their exclusive line-up is pale in comparison to both PlayStation’s and Nintendo’s but that doesn’t mean the Xbox One X should be discounted from the off. The exclusive content for Xbox One is by no means bad, quite the contrary, but it is limited. However, Forza Motorsport 7, Super Lucky’s Tale and PlayerUnkown’s Battlegrounds are this Autumn’s releases and each includes Xbox One Enhanced upgrades. Older exclusives such as Gears of War 4, Forza Horizon 3 and Halo 5 are also receiving similar enhancement updates meaning you may already have Xbox One X games in your library without having to spend a penny. It’s not just about the here and now either as the upcoming line-up which at present includes Crackdown 3, State of Decay 2, The Last Night and Sea of Thieves also have Xbox One X Enhancements.
It doesn’t just lie with exclusive content either as the line-up of both new and old third-party titles receiving Xbox One X Enhanced update is mighty impressive. Assassin’s Creed Origins, Call of Duty: WWII, FIFA 18 & Rise of the Tomb Raider are all getting 4K HDR updates, some of which can be downloaded now, ready for when the console releases. In fact, the current line-up of both first and third-party Xbox One X Enhanced games (available and in development) is sitting shy of 200.
With a strong line-up of third-party games, some of which you’ll probably already own, and a handful of first-party titles there will be more than enough to sink your teeth into when the Xbox One X releases. It doesn’t stop there either. Backwards compatible Xbox 360 and original Xbox games will also see the benefits of the Xbox One X’s more powerful internals. These backwards compatible titles will automatically run quicker as a result of the upgraded power with some of them even receiving Enhanced updates too. Assassin’s Creed, Fallout 3, Elder Scrolls: Oblivion & Halo 3 are all getting 4K updates with more to follow. This hopefully means we won’t be getting charged for ultra-HD remakes of older games, hopefully.
Where can you get the Xbox One X?
You’re excited, I get it but at the time of writing this, the availability of the Xbox One X is pretty limited. Pre-orders can still be placed but don’t expect one for release. Microsoft.com is still taking pre-orders, so too are Argos (in store, dependant on location), Amazon (late November delivery), Smyths (mid-late November delivery) & GAME (Christmas delivery). If you are really keen on picking up an Xbox One X on release it would be worth checking your local Argos, GAME or Smyths stores on the off-chance they have some stock allocated, otherwise, you’ll have to play the waiting game. Sorry!
So that’s it. The Xbox One X is coming, ready or not. It’s always an exciting time for the video game scene when a new console drops and Xbox One X has made an almighty splash. Content may be a little lacking but that’s not to say there isn’t enough out there to make the Xbox One X desirable. At the end of the day, the hardware is certainly the real deal and I personally can’t wait to see how this is utilised in the future. And whatever your point of view the push towards 4K from both Xbox One X and PlayStation 4 Pro can only be good for the future of console gaming.
Are you picking up an Xbox One X or are you going to hold off until later? Either way, let us know in the comments but if you are picking one up you’re certainly going to be in for a treat, enjoy!