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Xbox One X Review – Mighty impressive but not a game changer
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Xbox One X Review – Mighty impressive but not a game changer

by Neil Watton (neil363)November 12, 2017
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Xbox One X

November 7th 2017. The day gaming changed. The day the most powerful console ever created hit the world. The day when teraflops meant something and proper full 4K gaming become a reality.

The day Xbox One X arrived.

By now you should all know the history of the Xbox ecosystem and just what One X promises. But for those not fully ingrained in the Xbox way of life, let me run through a few quick things.

2001 saw the original beast of a console hit the market, taking on the might of PlayStation with a system that promised much. Online gaming, or at least online gaming as us console players know it, was in its infancy and the world was ready for a new console war.

Whether Xbox won or lost that battle is up for debate, but the original console paved the way for the hugely popular Xbox 360 to take things on to another level, before, back in 2013, Xbox One came to the table. With things heating up between Xbox and PlayStation, Sony threw the first punch in mixing things up even further with the introduction of PS4 Pro and a load of VR fanciness.

But now, here in 2017, Xbox are fighting back. And my god they’ve delivered something rather awesome to the market. A pitch black slab of gaming goodness, one that is powered by the already iconic Project Scorpio chip, Xbox One X ensures that the Xbox name is, yet again, forging forward in the console race.

Power, no matter how we look at it, is a good thing. But that power in itself is useless without a full system behind it, and a reason for being the most powerful console the world has ever seen. So how does Xbox One X fare? Well, if you’ve splashed a rather considerable amount of cash towards it, you’re not going to be disappointed. But similarly, sat here now, staring at a screen that is oozing with the most beautiful of 4K HDR filled visuals, it still feels like a proper shot across the bows of the enemy has been missed.

Don’t get me wrong, Xbox One X is a mighty impressive addition – but it’s not a game changer. From the tiny footprint, its whisper quiet running sound and the power it brings, all is good in the world. But there’s a little part of me that would have liked to have seen Xbox take things a little further; to take things to a level in which those gamers on other systems just wouldn’t be able to ignore.

Let me tell you why.

You see, from the minute I opened the well created box, and dragged out the Xbox One X Project Scorpio Edition, its customised Scorpio controller and the redeemable codes for 14 days of Xbox Live Gold and a whole month’s worth of temptation in the Xbox Games Pass, it is obvious that a huge amount of thought, effort, detail and love has gone into this console.

The exterior oozes quality, with the USB port on the front and physical power button being well placed. The UHD Blu-ray drive slot is hidden away lovingly too; so lovingly in fact that unless you head on in with the deepest most detailed look, you’d hardly notice it even being there.

The Project Scorpio logo sits proudly to the left of the face of the console and an all important venting system covers the sides. Around the back and One X comes with all the ports you would expect – HDMI in and out, an Optical output, an IR sensor, a couple more USB opportunities, an ethernet port and that all important power input.

Gone is the old power brick that was once required to ensure gaming could take place, with this instead seemingly integrated inside the console. The sheer weight of this little console seems to point at that being the case.

There is no Kinect port either, and whilst that won’t be an issue to many, if you are one who still enjoys the magic of motion and voice control, you’ll instead need to go down the same route as Xbox One S owners, grabbing a Kinect adapter and utilising one of the USB ports.

So far then, so Xbox. But then as we power One X up, we quickly begin to see what lies within.

With the usual startup out of the way and previous Xbox settings, games and apps ported over in a cinch (if you so wish), you may initially fail to spot much in the way of change. But get an Xbox One X enhanced game fired up and your jaw will drop… not only at the majestic full 4K visuals, but at the decreased loading times and overall smoothness that is delivered.

The cars of Forza 7 will pop from your screen, Assassin’s Creed Origins will have you thinking you really are in deepest Ancient Egypt and even the likes of indie titles Assault Android Cactus and Danger Zone will be enhanced to visual levels you may not have felt were possible. Even the Xbox dashboard and homepages are buttery smooth and much simpler to navigate through.

I can sit here right now and honestly say I have absolutely no issues with any of the One X improvements that have come about. At the same time though, I just wish things had been pushed a bit further.

In fact, I wish the pitiful 1TB of onboard storage was at least double and preferably more. I wish the included controller had been given a bit more of an overhaul – not down the Elite lines, but with a little something to make it stand out as an X controller. On a more personal level, I also wish that there were already One X exclusive games in place to really push this hardware to the nth degree, and I’d kill for a slightly cheaper console that does away with the disk drive completely. Gamers around the world really need to embrace the digital onslaught even more than they currently are.

Coming from an Xbox background that has seen me purchase every single generational upgrade on day one, Xbox One X could well have pushed things on a bit further. Perhaps the technology for a full-on leap isn’t quite there, but it would have been nice to have seen more than the single tentative step it has taken. But instead I’m left to sit here and enjoy faster loading times, improved visual qualities and the knowledge that I now own the most powerful console the world over. And that ain’t really too bad at all you know.

So, I guess that brings us to crunch time – should you be buying into Xbox One X?

Well, if you are new to gaming or have just purchased an ever cheapening 4K TV, then it’s a bit of a no brainer and I’d urge you to seek out this stunning console immediately. However, if you’re a current Xbox One gamer then I’m not sure the small enhancements are really worth the price tag asked. I mean, the visuals are lovely and all that – and once you’ve gone 4K, you really won’t ever want to go back – but it’s not like the latest and greatest games didn’t look stunning anyways. The load time differences are, quite honestly, neither here nor there and are certainly not worth worrying about. Whether that changes going forward is anyone’s guess though and I hope and pray that Xbox One X gamers will, at some point, see considerably less waiting time than they currently are getting. But that’s been said with every passing year of my near 40 years of gaming. And it never really materialises.  

The really big question surrounding this super powerful console from Xbox though is quite the simple one. Will Xbox One X make PS4 players jealous enough to tempt them over the line and into enemy territory?

The answer is just as simple. No. Unfortunately.

The pros

+ Stunning 4K UHD gaming
+ Super fast
+ Smaller footprint
+ Well built

The cons

- Expensive
- No massive jump from Xbox One

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One X is an impressive beast - but it's not game changing!

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About The Author
Neil Watton (neil363)
An Xbox gamer since 2002, I bought the big black box just to play Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee. I have since loved every second of the 360's life and am now just as obsessed with the Xbox One. A massive racing fan, Forza 4 was the daddy of all Xbox titles but Forza Horizon 3 now trumps that. Online first person shooters are my hell....probably because my reactions are so poor, but give me a little Indie title and I'll be in heaven. Gamertag is neil363, feel free to add me to your list.
  • J.j. Barrington

    This won’t go over well with some.

    • Judging by the comments I’ve received across social platforms and here, you’re not wrong. But similarly there are many agreeing.

      • J.j. Barrington

        It’s exactly what it was made out to be… mostly. But I think that was never really needed, and a lot of people don’t want to see that.

  • 7770777

    Click bait.

    • Thanks for reading – but you’re way off.

  • Chris (CrippyD)

    I agree it is expensive but I am happy with it and I’m happy that I’m getting the best Xbox experience that I can. It could certainly have moved things on more but where would that leave Xbox 2? MS have a hard balancing act on their hands, competing with Sony, moving the brand forward, not alienating current/potential customers and not shooting themselves in the foot for the next generation of console. It’ll certainly be an interesting time going forward.

    • stylon (Steve)

      Another very happy owner here too. Xbox 2 will have to be a beast!

  • Captain Chao5

    Thanks for the review. It’s nice to read something constructive instead of the plethora of ‘ooh it’s fantastic’ reviews regardless of pros and cons. I have been an xbox owner for around 10 years now and did buy an Xbox One on day one. I’ve resisted the One X for two reasons. 1 – I don’t yet have a 4k TV and 2 – I know the price will fall drastically after the initial burst of ‘must have this’ purchases – just as it did with the Xbox One.

    I’m inclined to agree with your comments about being a game changer. After the, let’s be honest, battering Xbox One got by Sony PS4, I expected X1X to be a serious piece of kit. The ‘worlds most powerful console’ should be more than just a phrase to highlight some technical specs. To me this sounds like the console the XB1 should have been. I’m fully expecting to see Sony release a new offering that will just embarrass Xbox. The 1Tb drive is not enough space – period. I said the same when XB1 came out with 500Mb. If digital gaming is the way forward, it simply needs more space. That said – I do not buy digital games and will not until the pricing difference is resolved. No physical media production costs, but digital costs more? Go and look at MP3, ebooks, etc and come back with a proper price structure, Microsoft. I would also not buy a console without the optical drive. I use my XB1 as a bluray player and would use an X1X as a UHD player.

    • stylon (Steve)

      Agree – you might not use an optical drive but you should always have the choice. Even more important when you consider the One X supports 3 generations of games media, 3 generations of disc-based movie playback plus CD’s! I like digital media but the pricing structure is insane, especially when you consider they have zero re-sale value.

      • Cheers guys. No grumpy hat on though Steve – maybe a ‘slightly frustrated that it doesn’t do more’ hat though.

        I bought the original One and was more than happy with that. I then bought the One S and similarly got on just fine. Now I’m sitting here with the X, I have to say that I’m still more than enjoying what it is bringing, but the difference for me is hardly worth the asking price.

        Yes the visuals are better, and I’ve found myself adoring Forza 7 just because of the eye candy, but on the whole I reckon I could have gone without and the whole ‘choose between performance or better visuals’ decision making is not something I want as a console gamer. If I was that bothered, I’d go down the PC route every single day. I’ve been playing Danger Zone across both the 60/30FPS modes they give and I am honestly struggling to spot any difference between the two.

        The load times are shorter – that cannot be denied – but until they are nearly zero, it will make no difference to me whether I’m sat there for 10 or 20 seconds as the next track or map loads. I don’t have an issue with load times anyways (except for on certain games where it takes minutes to get into the action), and certainly didn’t on the old console which is why it is not worth me worrying about.

        Personally, like I said in the article, I’d camp out and beg for a console that does away with the drive. Digital is the way forward for everything and even though I agree that it is priced incorrectly, and for it to really take off there needs to be some form of digital trade-in system going down, I’d still happily get rid. Perhaps the fact that I rarely watch films, own hardly any DVD/Blu-Rays, and purchase all my games digitally makes me think that way.

        Thanks for your comments and the chance to discuss it some more though! It’s easily the best console you can buy today, but I WANT MORE!

        • stylon (Steve)

          If you’ve come from an S then there would have been less of an improvement for you. If I’m not mistaken the S could already offer 4K video and disc playback plus it could do HDR and it offered a small increase in performance too.

          There was talk of MS doing some sort of trade-in for digital games but nothing ever seemed to happen. Don’t know the ins and outs but if I could get back even just 10% of the purchase cost of my digital games that I no longer play I’d have a small fortune to plough back into the store. These days I’m being a bit more sensible and only buying digital if it’s a game that I know I will always want to have around (like the Forza games) or if it’s in a sale. I tend to always get my digital games from CD Keys too or if they don’t sell the game itself I will buy discounted Xbox Live Credit.

          As for going down the PC route – it ain’t at all what its cracked up to be. Did try do just that a year ago and it only took a month for me to get fed up of the constant compatibility issues and the requirement to mess around with drivers and settings to overcome launch issues and glitches. For example I actually ended up getting a refund for the Telltale Batman game and buying it on Xbox instead as it was just a total mess. I fix computers for a living – I don’t want to have to come home and do the same thing when I just want some ‘play’ time! I just want to turn the box on and play – end of.

  • stylon (Steve)

    Think you must have had your grumpy hat on when you wrote that review Neil. Difference between some of the games, Shadow of War / Rise of the Tomb Raider for example is night and day and I hope that many more will follow the same path of offering greatly enhanced versions of games for it in the future..

    The One X (and the PS4 Pro) were never meant (or marketed as such) to get their own exclusives – just to offer dedicated gamers who are prepared to invest a bit more the opportunity to play the very best (console) version of games. I would agree that the Xbox ecosystem in general needs some more exclusives but not the One X itself. Doing that would fragment the Xbox fanbase and that’s the last thing we need given the lead the PS4 has already. Do agree with you about the internal drive though – ‘The most powerful console in the world’ should definitely have had a 4TB drive in it.

    As for loading times it does vary from game to game but as far as I’m aware pretty much every game loads faster, often as much as 50% or more. Specific examples: The Witcher 3 loads over 1 whole minute faster which is more than a 50% reduction – GTA 5’s loading time is halved. Personally I think they are speed-ups worthy of praise and to dismiss them as “neither here nor there” seems a little disingenuous.

    Personally I do think it offers features that would make a PS4 Pro owner jealous (I own both). The fact that this little box is smaller than a PS4 Pro yet much more powerful, incorporates the PSU internally and yet still runs as quietly as a mouse even when churning out full fat 4K HDR gaming is another thing to celebrate. Compare that to the PS4 Pro running Uncharted 4 for instance and the thing sounds like a hair dryer!

    I bought my first ever 4K UHD Blu-Ray at the weekend (Blade Runner) and was able to pop this into my One X and watch the movie like I’ve never watched it before – it looked spectacular. Try doing that on a Pro… oh wait you can’t because it doesn’t have a 4K blu-ray drive. You can argue that movies can be streamed but if you want the true 4K experience without massive compression then disc is the only way to get that and with the One X that option is available to you.

    I only really have one criticism and that is the HDMI input/pass thru is only 1080P which is inexplicable – means I can’t have my Sky Q box pass through it and take advantage of the OneGuide and free up an HDMI port. Other than that I think it was worth every penny and if I was a PS4 owner I’d be seriously envious right now!

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