At midnight on the 7th of November, I was once again stood in the queue at my local GAME store, awaiting the handing over of my shiny Xbox One X Project Scorpio console. After being handed the surprisingly heavy bag (this thing is a lot smaller than my OG Day One Xbox One, but weighs a lot more), I hot footed it home and plugged it in to my old and trusty TV. Well, when I say old, it’s about 8 months old, but when I broached the subject of a new 4K version with the wife, I was slapped down in no uncertain terms. Somehow I ended up buying my son a new bed just for even thinking about the act of buying a new TV. I’m not sure how that works, but there you go! Anyway, the collected ramblings below will chart my adventures in the Xbox One X owners club (I really hope that’s a thing), as a proud non-4K TV player.
Setup of the new Xbox was a real breeze. The update that was downloaded allowed me to back up all my settings to the external hard drive that I have attached, and as soon as it was plugged into the Xbox One X, the option was given to me at power on to copy my settings. Sending those across was a snap; the One X knew who I was, and after a small 700Mb download, I was then able to copy all the games that I had stored on the old OG Xbox’s internal HDU over the network to the new one. It also let me play all the games that were on my two external drives, with no reinstalling required. This is almost like witchcraft – a brand new Xbox, an external drive stuffed with games, and I was able to play them straight away with no downloads, no installs, no nothing. So step one of Xbox One X ownership was a delight, and made life so much easier.
Immediately upon loading games, or even just turning on the Xbox One X, the new speed and power of the console becomes apparent. Because I held off buying an Xbox One S, I’m comparing the Day One console with the new one, and it’s really like night and day. The console fires up and gets ready faster, the games load a lot faster – even loading times within these titles seem much reduced. Getting into the Tower in Destiny 2 is now a much speedier affair; there is no more hanging about in the loading screens, just fly there and get on with business. So, how do the rest of the games stack up?
The first thing I noticed in the “My Games and Apps” section is that there is a new filter just for Xbox One X Enhanced games. Having taken a peep in there, it was great to see Forza 7, Wolfenstein 2, Assassin’s Creed Origins, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Shadow of War and more are all in this section – so this is where I began. Loading up Forza 7 actually says “Xbox One Enhanced” on the title screen so you are in no doubt that the new update has been applied. Again, loading times are much reduced, but it was the graphical polish that blew me away. Starting a night race on the Yas Marina track was unbelievable, with all the trackside lights and structures being reflected in the side windows of the car I was driving looking absolutely awesome. And bear in mind this is running with a non-4K TV, so being able to see such a difference really brought home to me the changes that are here under the skin of the new console. The animation was smoother, the cars handled even better, and the loading times were much reduced. Even streaming gameplay out on Mixer doesn’t affect the quality or the speed that it is shown to me. As a tool to showcase the raw power of the X, Forza 7 is a fantastic shop front into what six teraflops means for the future of gaming.
It was the same story with the other games I tried; Wolfenstein didn’t bring such a noticeable improvement in graphics, but the smoothness of the gameplay and the overall slickness made sure that the difference was again very noticeable. Wolfenstein 2 wasn’t blessed with the shortest loading times when restarting from a checkpoint, but on the new console they were reduced. Middle-earth Shadow of War is another where the difference is in the gameplay and the feel rather than the graphics, running buttery smooth as I snuck about shanking Orcs and dominating Captains. Fast travelling is faster, but the main difference is in its feel. Assassin’s Creed Origins is much improved as well, with smoother loading, faster respawns, and the controls which seem more responsive. The draw distance seems improved, and the eagle sections look better – it’s even easier to pick out the bad guys milling about.
However, I have a few issues with my X. It seems that if I have it idling over in fast restart mode, or Instant On as Xbox named it, that sometimes when it starts it won’t launch any games. It won’t even launch the Settings app to allow me restart it. Removing the power plug fixes the issue, but I feel like it shouldn’t happen on a £450 uber console. Equally, sometimes if I try to get around this issue by having the Xbox power off fully when I shut it down, it won’t start up again by using the controller or even the power button. Disconnecting the power sorts this out too, but I’m sad that I’m having these issues.
Still, the improvements that the Scorpio brings does make up for some of the problems, and Forza 7 alone brings tears to my eyes with its sheer beauty – remember, that is non-4K beauty. If I was being picky, I’d have thought that they could have included an Elite controller in the package, but my Project Scorpio controller has joined my Day One edition in my Museum of Worthless Xbox Tat..
All in all then, and ignoring the teething issues that I feel will be patched out, the Xbox One X is a very impressive piece of kit. Even plugged into a non-4K screen, the improvements make the games feel smoother, run faster, load more speedily and look unbelievable. If you have the money, I’d recommend the X to anyone. It’s maybe not a quantum leap over the Xbox One S, but from my standpoint with a Day One console, it blows me out of the water every time I turn it on. Even Xbox 360 games run and load faster, so it’s a double win for me and anyone who likes Backwards Compatibility. Imagine what they can do when the developers have had time to get used to the new console and develop just for it? Although this would immediately splinter the Xbox user base into the haves and have nots, I kind of feel that the payoff for seeing just what the X can do would be worth it. With Destiny 2 on the verge of enhancement too, I’ll be all over that.
So, if you have an X, what do you think of it so far? Would you like to see the machine stretched, or do you think that community cohesion is more important? Let me know in the comments below but on the whole, even if you don’t have a 4K TV, Xbox One X is a hugely impressive console.