The year 2020 may not be worthy of marking it up on the scrapbook for most people but it surely proved to be an interesting year for gamers. Apart from a bunch of exciting games, both Sony and Microsoft released their next-generation consoles in the last few months. While the Sony PS5 is yet to show up in India, we have already got our hands on the Xbox Series X. Yes, the flagship Xbox console this year (there’s a cheaper Series S too this time) is out for sale and it brings a lot of promises for hardcore gamers. Also Read - Xbox Series X, Series S go on sale from today: 5 reasons to consider these Microsoft consoles
You can get the Xbox Series X at a price of Rs 49,990 in India, which is the same that Sony will charge for its PlayStation 5. Microsoft has a lot of newbies to deliver with the Series X this year. Not only is the Series X more powerful, it is also faster and approaches console gaming in a completely new way. Over the next few weeks, I will put the Xbox Series X through its paces with some of the recent titles. Until that happens, here’s a quick look at what the Series X offers as a package. Also Read - Sony PS5 prices revealed for India, Xbox Series S still cheaper
Unboxing the Xbox Series X
Microsoft knows that the Xbox is meant for people who care about gaming and want the best experience. Hence, this time, it starts right from the moment you take off the wraps. The review unit that Microsoft sent me came in a cardboard box, which after careful tearing, revealed the green-black-white box. The main box itself holds all the information and details about the console – something most of us already know. Also Read - Sony PS5 and PS5 Digital Edition prices announced, India launch on November 19
Opening up the box, we find the Xbox Series X sitting wrapped in protective wraps, with a cardboard sticker that says “power your dreams”. The inside of the box wears an all-green accent along with thermocole padding to keep the Xbox safe. Microsoft is bundling the power cable, an HDMI cable, as well as the Xbox Controller with the package.
Xbox Series X: How does it look?
You have already seen the Xbox in pres images and international reviews. That said, I would be more than happy to talk about its appearance. The Series X looks like a slimmed-down desktop PC at first glance. However, it is much smaller than a desktop PC. Unlike the memes, the Series X isn’t as big as an air purifier. Next to the Mi Air Purifier 3, the Series X holds 1/4th space. It is heavy though and you can definitely feel it when you carry it around. You won’t need to bother about the weight though as the console will quietly sit under your TV.
“Quietly”. That’s the biggest change with the new generation consoles. I had used the Xbox One S prior to this and that was one noisy console. The Series X has so far been quiet during the setup process. Even in pin-drop silence, I was barely able to hear the fan.
The black plastic casing looks good with its matte finish but in the dusty Indian household conditions, I think it will be a dust magnet. I stay in Noida and in just 5 hours, I have had to wipe it clean three times to maintain the polish. The cheese-shredder-style mesh is something I am worried about while cleaning, given that I won’t be able to reach and nooks and crannies easily.
That cheese-shredder-mesh looks cool with the green accents and I wish Microsoft had actually put lights inside to make it glow. Maybe custom kit designers, or even Microsoft, can come up with this idea for a special edition variant later.
In terms of connectivity, the Series X gives more options than the laptop I am using right now. There’s a Blue-ray drive at the front for loading games or watching movies. You also geta USB-A port at the bottom corner, accompanied by a wireless pairing button for the controller. Turn it around and you will see a proprietary storage expansion slot for the 1TB Seagate card. There are two more USB-A ports for connecting external drives, an Ethernet port, an HDMI port, and a power connector.
The controller itself hasn’t changed much, except for the new share button and the directional keys for control. Tapping the share button while playing Forza Horizon 4 quickly captured a screenshot and made it available on my Xbox account. The body of the controller is made of the same matte plastic as the console itself. You get the same port arrangements, including a 3.5mm port for headphones and a USB-C port for playing via wired connections. Microsoft bundles a pair of AA batteries in the box.
Xbox Series X: Does it feel fast?
I won’t deep dive into the specifications just for the sake of stretching this piece. The Series X with its SSD storage is noticeably faster than the One S and One X. The boot-up time is fast and apps are so far opening up very quickly. I have only downloaded Forza Horizon 4 so far and the load times are on par with what I have seen on a high-end gaming PC. On top of that, there’s Quick Resume that simply takes off from where I last left the game. I did not see this in action on Forza Horizon 4 alone – maybe it will work as install other games.
Setting up the Xbox Series X is easy. I plugged it in the TV, powered it on, downloaded the Xbox app on my iPhone. From there on, the process is easy. It threw up some questions to set up the preferences. I set it up to be always on and be the fastest all the time. The console, meanwhile, set itself up in the background and downloaded an update as soon as it connected to the WiFi network.
Of course, Forza Horizon 4 is from 2018 and the Series X is more capable to handle the newest titles. Over the course of my review period, I will load it up with Watch Dogs Legion and Assasin’s Creed Valhalla to see what lies in store for gamers with the next-gen games. Keep an eye out for the review.
Apart from the games, the main interface hasn’t changed from the Xbox One. If you already have an Xbox One S or One X, the homescreen feels familiar. Microsoft has used its Metro UI to liven it up with colorful posters of games and apps. There’s a lot of advertising going on here for making you purchase the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription. The Game Pass is crucial for Microsoft to keep its cash registers flowing. Series X users will get the first month for Rs 50 and thereafter, you will have to shell Rs 699 per month. Do note that the Ultimate subscription includes access to EA Play, which includes all the popular EA titles.
On my Xiaomi Mi TV 4X Pro 55-inch TV, the Series X defaulted to 4K resolution for Forza Horizon 4 and the graphics look amazing. Definitely way better than what a similarly priced gaming PC can deliver for the same price as the Series X. However, it remains to be seen how the Series X performs for next-gen games, especially where features such as ray-tracing are employed.
Xbox Series X first impressions
Microsoft created a lot of hype for the Xbox Series X and so far, I can see they weren’t bluffing. It has been just five hours and the Series X feels vastly different from the previous console experiences I have ever had. It’s fast and it plays the recent titles really well. Coming from PC gaming, I feel at home. Over the next few weeks, I will game hard on this handsome Xbox and will come up with a full review, digging up everything about the Series X.