Very early Xbox Series X impressions. It feels like the OG Xbone to XBONEX upgrade, though not in a bad way.

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bigsocrates

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Edited By bigsocrates

I am on record as buying an Xbox Series X despite not being very hyped for it. I spent most of the day with one eye on my FedEx tracking information to see as soon as it would get dropped off, but the guy brought it up to my apartment door and rang the bell after he dropped it off, which was nice of him.

The packaging was smaller than I expected, and the console is actually pretty compact. I am used to launch Xboxes being these giant unwieldy things, but this is quite reasonably sized and not very heavy. It is probably the best form factor for an Xbox ever. It fits perfectly beneath a small side table I have next to my TV for my PSVR and has lots of room to breathe there, so there it will remain.

The controller is a very lightly modified Xbox One controller, though the textured grips give it a slightly different feel, and the disc based D-pad is probably the best one they’ve ever made. It is also, I think, a very little bit smaller and denser than the Xbox One controller. Regardless, it’s very comfortable and responsive. Given how innovative the PS5 controller apparently is they may end up wishing they’d been more ambitious, but the Xbox One controller was very well designed so it’s hard to complain. There’s a reason the Switch Pro controller is modeled on it.

Installation and set up was…mostly painless, though it did try to get me to use an Xbox app on my phone that I installed but couldn’t get to work so I had to set it up manually. Took about 10-15 minutes with no problems. The UI is literally the same UI I have on my Xbox One X, and honestly while I don’t dislike the Xbox UI as much as a lot of people I kind of wish they’d done something else with it. It’s snappier on the Series X than it is on the One, but buying a new console only to be using basically the same controller and the same UI as you were using before takes a little bit of the “new hardware” excitement out of it. The controller and UI are so similar that it’s hard to feel like I’m actually using a new box, and if I hadn’t unhooked my Xbox One X and moved it into another room I would believe that I had accidently turned on the wrong console.

Speaking of turning on the console, I’ve had a couple issues with the power on this thing. I have it set to power save mode and it seems to turn itself off so thoroughly that I have to physically press the button to get it to switch back on and cannot use a controller to do it. This is not a massive problem but it’s slightly annoying. More annoying is the fact that the system turns itself off after 10 minutes idle. It stays on fine if it’s actively doing something like streaming a video or playing a game but if I just leave it idle it turns itself all the way off. It also doesn’t download stuff when it’s off (I’m sure it does if it’s set to instant on rather than power save mode) so I am going to have to switch to “instant on” mode and off power save for now because I have a lot of software to download right now. I especially want to try Forza Horizon 4 on this thing. It’s kind of annoying that I have to be actively doing something to keep the system on and downloading stuff. And yes I checked the settings and it’s set to dim the screen after 10 minutes inactive and turn off after an hour, so it may be turning off when it’s supposed to dim the screen.

I’m sure these are issues that will get ironed out in future patches, though they weren’t problems I had with my Xbox One X, which uses the same UI.

Having my full library of digital Xbox games available immediately is almost overwhelming. I’ve collected a ton of games over the 13 years since I got an Xbox 360, and my library is full of stuff that ranges from spectacular to terrible. It’s a little daunting to see just how much there is, but you can easily organize and filter the list so this is not so much a complaint as an emotional reaction. For me each console generation has been a chance to start fresh and kind of leave the last generation behind, at least for a while, and that just doesn’t feel like the case here. Even your save games follow you to the new box because they’re all in the cloud. I could download Killer Instinct, which I played on the Xbox One’s launch day, and it would still have all my unlocks and statistics stored and ready to go. It’s just another way in which the Series X is a continuation of what came before.

So how does it play? I’ve only tried one game so far, Dirt 5. It looks very nice. I’m not sure if I’d say it looks better than every game on Xbox One X, but there seems to be no draw in, a very solid frame rate, no resolution drops etc… The loading is not quite as snappy as I expected, but I’m also downloading a bunch of stuff in the background so that might have slowed things down. I did get an audio glitch where the sound broke up and then dropped out altogether, but it only happened once and was fixed when I restarted the game so it’s hard to know if that’s an issue with the console, Dirt 5 in particular, or some combination of things. I would say that what’s most impressive about Dirt 5 on the series X is not so much how it looks but how cleanly it runs, which is not surprising when you crank up the power on a piece of software that’s also designed to run on less powerful systems.

My first impression of the Xbox Series X is…respect. It seems like a well put-together system and there’s nothing bad about it per se. I like the Xbox One X so I like this. It’s really that simple, especially because outside of the power level and the quick resume feature it basically is an Xbox One X. More or less the same controller and same UI. This feels like a half step console in many ways. That doesn’t mean it’s bad. It’s a very powerful machine and it doesn’t fix the things that weren’t broken. It’s just not exciting. There’s no thrill here.

That’s okay though because for now I’ll enjoy having great versions of a lot of games, new and old, to play, and the new games will come when they come. Just cutting loading times significantly will be a serious value upgrade. Being able to play games with rock solid frame rates, better image quality, and no resolution dips is also a big plus. We’re never going to see that mind blowing PS1 to PS2 or even PS2 to PS3 upgrade again. It’s all about a slightly better, smoother, faster, experience.

It’s a neat and functional box with a ton of potential. With Gamepass and the Games with Gold I’ve accrued I will never run out of stuff to play. I feel good about my purchase so far. Not everything needs to be exciting. Sometimes an incremental improvement is enough. But if you haven’t been able to snag one out you’re not really missing anything. This baby’s just getting started.

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inspectorfowler

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@bigsocrates: Regarding the issue where it’s not downloading when it’s off, neither is mine.

I have it set to “instant on” and I have “turn storage off when console is off” unchecked (although I think that applies more to external storage), I have “keep everything updated” selected and the second I turn the console off it stops downloading anything.

My only theory is that it my console is on a wired connection, and somehow the ethernet is not powered when the console is off? I’m waiting for the damned thing to finish downloading Like a Dragon on my slow-ass country bumpkin internet, and when it’s done, I’ll do some experimenting.

Also the phone setup thing failed the same way it did for Jeff on the Series S except for me it didn’t give me the prompt for all the setup stuff and so it defaulted to some real rough defaults (for example, it made me enter my password and do two-factor every time I booted it at first).

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bigsocrates

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@inspectorfowler: I turned mine to instant on in the settings but it didn't seem to help and it didn't download stuff overnight. This is kind of frustrating though I'm sure it will get patched eventually. I still can't wake the box up with the controller. I'm probably going to file some error reports with Microsoft and see what they say.

Also, and this is VERY annoying, the quick resume feature doesn't work with Dirt 5. Instead I have to boot up from a full "off" state every time I want to play. This is apparently a known issue with some of the optimized games, and is intentional on Microsoft's part because the feature wasn't working properly with those games. Dirt 5 is the perfect type of game for the quick resume because it's something I can pop on for like 10 minutes and do a couple quick races, so a big thumbs down on that issue.

I'm sure this stuff will get ironed out over the next few months or so, and the console can turn on (if I hit the power button physically at least) and play vidja games, so I'm not too upset about it, but I'm going to be the old man here and say that I miss when consoles just launched with all their features working and everything up to par.

ATARI 5200>XBOX SERIES X. SAID IT HERE.

Actually the Atari 5200 controller was extremely prone to breaking so in comparison maybe the fact that I have to physically turn my Xbox on isn't so bad.

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Humanity

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@inspectorfowler: This isn't all that shocking, although maybe it should be, cause that downloading of updates never worked for me on the Xbox One X either despite being set to instant on. The only advice on how to fix it that I wasn't able to try was that it was advised to have the console plugged directly into the wall socket and not into a power strip, but I can't afford to have my Xbox taking up an entire wall socket in the living room so never had a chance to try this out.

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Arjailer

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#4  Edited By Arjailer

MS announced a couple of weeks ago that there was a bug quick resuming Series X games so it's been disabled until they get a fix out. Should still work with 360 and One games (can't confirm yet, my Series X should arrive today)

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Bane

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Hmm, I checked my installed games in the Xbox app and my background downloads aren't working either. Maybe it's a service problem. Xbox Live went down yesterday for a while, and downloads were pretty slow last night.

Don't forget you now have access to EA Play if you have Game Pass Ultimate. There are 80 games in there currently. If you haven't played Mass Effect, Dragon Age, or Jedi: Fallen Order yet now's your chance.

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kevlargorilla

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I'm liking it so far.

One issue I encountered the first night was quick-resuming Banjo Kazooie, and all the sound was replaced by a single tone.

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bigsocrates

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@navster15: Actually Banjo Kazooie has a new X optimized version with an all new soundtrack by Kirkhope, which is much more experimental than the original. If @kevlargorilla had a little patience he would have found out that the note only lasts 17 minutes, at which point it's replaced by another note.

I do think it's hilarious that someone got an Xbox Series X and the first thing they wanted to do was play an N64 game on it. Xbox Series X has more N64 games available than Switch, and actually has kind of a decent small N64 library.

Banjo-Kazooie. Banjo-Tooie. Jet Force Gemini. Blast Corps. Killer Instinct Gold. Perfect Dark. Conker's Bad Fur Day. Turok. Turok 2. Forsaken. Star Wars Episode 1 Racer.

It's obviously missing the big Nintendo first party bangers, but it's a decent sampling of the other stuff on that system.

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As someone who never upgraded to a Xbox One X when I upgraded to a 4K TV, this all sounds really good. My Series X is still on the way, and one of the things im looking forward to the most is seeing the One X enhancements to Xbox One and 360 games.

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Spent a couple hours with it yesterday, and I agree the new D-pad is good. It's much click-ier than the Xbox One controller. It's also easier to switch between multiple, paired devices.

With the old controller, I had to re-pair it with my PC (via Bluetooth) every time I switched from PC to Xbox. The new controller remembers both.

Addt'l. Data Point: background updates seem to be working for me. My Series X is set to "Instant On", and I had a dozen updates (or "upgrades") in the queue this morning after it was "off" all night.

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#11  Edited By Deathstriker

I didn't even know the new systems came out this week until yesterday evening lol. I think both will be good or great, but getting one this year seems pointless since they have no exclusives and faster loading isn't a big deal to me.

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bigsocrates

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I managed to keep my Xbox downloading stuff today by playing a bunch of Youtube videos on it while I was doing other stuff, which seems like a dumb workaround to my issues but you do what you have to. I have half the SSD filled up now, which is both good (in that I got a lot of the stuff I wanted on to the box) and bad (because this SSD is tiny considering how big games are these days.)

I did download Forza Horizon 4 and booted it up...and it looks fantastic. I was very surprised at how crisp and clear it is, and honestly I would say that was my first big "next gen" moment, partially because I'm so familiar with that game that it was immediately obvious to me, unlike with something like Dirt 5, which I'd never played before.

It also chops the loading times way way down, which were probably Forza Horizon's biggest weakness. I meant to play just long enough to see if it felt difference and I got sucked back in for well over an hour, which just flew by.

I did have the sound glitch again. This time I kept playing because I was in the middle of a race, and the sound popped back on. Hopefully that's something that can be fixed in a software update and not something weird wrong with my Xbox.

Playing Forza Horizon 4 in such crisp, gorgeous, glory definitely made me happier with the Series X. It's one of my favorite games of the last gen and it just looks so good. Also all those mixed feelings about having the library already populated? Gone. Free updated to Forza Horizon 4 made that seem like only a good thing.

It turns out that when a system plays a game you deeply love you like that system more. Strange, that.

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Big_Denim

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I'm liking mine a lot so far. Very impressed with this console.

And honestly, I have liked what I've seen from the series s as well (I bought both).

Some moments of blurry, muddy visuals but generally speaking, the series s looks and runs really well considering it's budget-conscious price tag.

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As I said in the chat, waiting till next xmas has never been a better, un-regrettable choice. Next year, current models will drop to $399, and 1.5-2 terabyte ones will replace them in the $499-599 range/. All these bugs, drawbacks, asterisks will be ironed out. They might even have better pack in games/ And there will actually be a ton of new games to play. I'd bet they get a tad quieter and power efficient too. NVE drives can only get less expensive year after year, we might see that Xbox Seagate thing down to $179-ish by then too.

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Humanity

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#15  Edited By Humanity

I got mine today and I'm still at work so I just set it up and started downloading some stuff but the one thing that stood out - and this is a real minor thing - with such a strong push with Game Pass I'm surprised they didn't include even a 7 day trial in the box. Seems like a perfect place for a gateway drug and even back in the day of the 360 they used to give you a voucher for a few days of Gold.

Other than that.. without having actually played anything.. that new controller feels a little weird after having played with the Elite 1 for such a long time. Then again I found the Elite 1 very uncomfortable when I first got it and now it fits like a glove so I'll probably get used to it if I do decide to use it (I really have been wanting a dedicated screenshot button for a long time on the Xbox).

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@humanity Agreed. I thought the card at the bottom of the box was a Game Pass trial, but no. It was just setup instructions.

Also, the background downloads did work, but that wasn't reflected in the Xbox app. As soon as I turned it on last night I got a bunch of notifications that my games were ready to play, and they were.

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Arjailer

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Anyone else noticing that putting their console in Energy Saving mode doesn't actually turn it off? Mine acts like it's in Instant On mode regardless of which mode I set.

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bigsocrates

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@arjailer: That sounds like the exact opposite issue to what I'm having. Mine will not go into instant on mode or background download no matter what the settings. It seems like there's an issue with at least some of these boxes changing the power settings. Hopefully that's something that can be patched relatively easily and quickly.

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inspectorfowler

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@humanity: This problem ended up resolving itself with no action from me. No idea why or how. As long as it stays this way I’m good. Yesterday its “thing” was to not turn on with my Harmony remote despite doing so on Tuesday, and this morning when I got home from my night shift it started just fine again.

As long as it keeps playing games just fine I won’t worry about it much. It can be weird until a couple firmware updates.

Gotta second some opinions above - FH4 looks...I mean...just...really amazing. I hope there are some people who worked on that game who are really happy that people can play it this way now without a beefy PC to make it happen.

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Arjailer

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@bigsocrates: Yeah, something's not right. My background downloads worked fine last night - even though the console was on Energy Saving and should have been powered off 🤷‍♂️

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#21  Edited By Humanity

@arjailer: I’m unable to pair my Series X to the Xbox app and also can’t seem to unpair my old Xbox either. On the Game Pass app I see the Series X but it’s name is blank and whenever I add a game to download remotely it says that I won’t see the progress and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.

Console itself works fine but the apps have gotten terrible. Two years ago the apps on both mobile and PC worked great. The PC companion app was especially good letting you do stuff like check your news feed, compare achievements, manage captures etc. Now - as with all Microsoft software - they upgraded all features out of the app where you can’t even check your achievements on it anymore. Whoever is in charge of app development over at Microsoft is actively making everything worse.

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Arjailer

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@humanity: Hadn't thought about trying the apps. I don't really use them much, but it's a shame that they don't work anymore :-(

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Humanity

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@arjailer: try them maybe they will work for you when you do a fresh install. I think my problem is that I have my previous console paired and it’s causing issues and I’m unable to delete the old one? Who knows.

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Arjailer

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#24  Edited By Arjailer

@humanity: Just gave the apps a try.

The Xbox app connected to the Series X okay for me and listed the installed games fine. The app was also still connected to my One X (which my son now has) and as you say there was no way to remove it.

The GamePass app found the Series X on standby fine and let me start installing Jedi Fallen Order. The console did start installing it, but the app only updated its progress about once every 3 or 4 minutes (so at first I thought it wasn't showing any progress at all).

So not perfect, but the apps basically worked for me.

I also see that Microsoft already have a list of known issues with the Series X and S, so they clearly have some stuff to sort out in the next few weeks 😃

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#25  Edited By Humanity

@arjailer: GamePass now works without giving me weird errors after I went to options and switched my Series X to be my "Home Console" which you do through Settings->General->Personalization

The Xbox App still refuses to connect to it and just stays on the "sign in to your Xbox account on your console" screen no matter what I do. The PC Xbox Companion App still connects perfectly fine. The phone Xbox App isn't really useful for.. pretty much anything at this point.. so no real loss there although I do wish it all just worked.

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