7th of November is a date to remember. And not for gunpowder, treason and plot either, that’s two days earlier. The 7th of November sees Microsoft’s new Xbox One X console launched and it’s a bit of a doozy.
Earlier on this week Xbox invited me to their Xbox Loft, a swanky penthouse in central London, to play some games and have a chat about the Xbox One X.
The Xbox One X is unique in console launches. It’s a very powerful piece of kit, but it’s also completely compatible with all the existing Xbox One games. This means the usual launch process, which sees the machine launched with maybe five to ten games, and then a steady drip drip of titles, isn’t going to happen this time. Now, you can buy the new Microsoft console and have access to all your existing Xbox One games, and all the Xbox 360 games that already work via backwards compatibility. Oh, and if you’re dead old like me, there are even some original Xbox games available too!
Why would I want to play my existing games on my shiny new console I hear you cry. Well, a lot (there will be around 100 shortly after release) of the existing games are getting enhanced versions/updates for free if you own the original game. This means that some great looking Xbox One games will suddenly get a bump in resolution, framerate and special effects if you play them on your new Xbox One X. It also gives you both choice in what to play and some affordable slightly older games that will still get a makeover.
I’ve written about the Xbox One X before, if you want to have a read about why as a parent I prefer the Xbox ecosystem, you can have a read here. In short, the parental controls are really strong, and the digital download ecosystem is very good too.
A lot of the backward compatible Xbox 360 games are kid friendly- all the earlier LEGO games are included- and some have even been remastered for Xbox One X, like Disneyland Adventures and Disney Pixar’s Rush, giving you access to a very affordable catalogue of great kids games from day one.
I’ll come on to the details of how and why the games look and play better in a minute but first, I’d like to address why the Xbox One X should be placed top of the pile in consoles you should consider buying. The big thing is making sure your purchase is future proof, and everything in the Xbox One X is brand spanking new. It’s now 4 years since the Xbox One and PS4 first launched, and a year since the upgraded Xbox One S launched. 4 years is an ice age in terms of technology- we’re looking at the iPhone 5 if we go that far back. 4K televisions weren’t that common and were horrendously expensive (I know, we were looking to buy one a year or so later and opted for a HD TV instead because it was half the price).
If you either have a 4K telly or are thinking of getting one, the Xbox One X is the obvious choice for you to game on, and the streaming apps that support 4K streaming are all ready to go. Stranger Things 2 in 4K from my Xbox One X? Yes please!
We already have an Xbox One S, the kids love playing Minecraft on it, so thanks to being able to play Xbox One games on both the ‘S and the new ‘X, I was able to experience first hand how some of the enhanced for Xbox One X games improve on the originals. Rise of the Tomb Raider, Super Lucky Tales (review is pending on that) and Forza 7 all look pretty incredible in 4K but Forza 7 particularly looks like witchcraft has been performed to get the game looking so good and running so well on a machine that costs as much as an enthusiast graphics card for a PC (only a part of the overall cost of a PC for playing games on!).
I’ve played all these games on the original Xbox One, and can confirm they look very pretty. Unfortunately I now have a problem as they don’t look very pretty next to the Xbox One X versions.
Super Lucky Tales looks great on the Xbox One S, but it’s better, with faster load times and smoother graphics on the X. It’s detail heavy games like Rise of the Tomb Raider and Forza 7 that really benefit from the upgrade though. I was almost late for work I was so engrossed in play Forza 7 on the Xbox One X. I have a gaming PC that cost around £1,200 and I can genuinely say that neither Forza or Tomb Raider look any better on my PC than they do on a console that costs around a third of the price. That is pretty incredible.
The Xbox One X is out 7 November with an RRP of £450. While Microsoft haven’t produced any official bundles, you will find retailers are making their own bundles. In the meantime, there is an official handy list of games that are enhanced for Xbox One X here.
£450 is obviously a significant investment but what it does get you is the latest technology, 4K games, UHD Blu-ray play back and a huge catalogue of games. And it is also only £20 more than the Xbox One launched for waaaay back in 2013. That extra £20 gets you an awful lot more…