So I got an Xbox One X on Friday, and I won’t tell you how I managed to afford it except to say that—contrary to all rumors—getting $300 in store credit from Game Stop does NOT involve selling them a kidney.
Just all your gold fillings.
So was it worth all the impromptu in-store dentistry (and concomitant significant lingering dental pain)? It depends on your definition of “worth it”.
The XBOX (that is, the Xbox One X) is wholly and entirely a significant graphics upgrade over its immediate predecessor. To an astounding level, frankly. It makes all the games I tested run noticeably smoother, including Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge (through Xbox Backwards Compatibility), Fallout: New Vegas (360 BC), and Skyrim (XB1 native), among several others. The superior XBOX hardware can’t make any of these games LOOK better, but they all benefitfrom the higher framerates, which makes for a much smoother gameplay experience (not to mention no tearing, no skipping, and no framerate drops. Though tearing has been virtually unknown on the Xbox platform anyway, at least since the early days of the 360.) According to Microsoft, the XBOX can run most current titles in 1080p at 60 frames per second. Based on my entirely subjective testing I saw no reason to doubt it.
(Supposedly, the new console can even support gaming at a 4k resolution (at the cost of reduced FPS), but as I’m not crazy, I don’t own a 4k TV to test it out on. If I experience a sudden drop in IQ and decide to plunk down good cash for one of those boondoggles, I’ll let you know.)
Speaking of unnecessary 4k graphics updates, some games were graphically upgraded to take advantage of all the raw, seething graphics power lurking under the hood of the XBOX console. Out of the 160 titles installed on my external HDD, fully 17 of them had been so blessed.
(Of course software updates meant downloading said updates, which takes a LONG time. Pro Tip, Microsoft: 55 GB isn’t an update—it’s just reinstalling the game.)
In addition to the usual suspects—Gears of War 4, Titanfall 2, Forza Motorsports 7—there were two title upgrades that caught me completely off guard: The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and Fallout 3. Both games are elderly (Oblivion from 2006, Fallout 3 from 2008), to the point that, were they people, they’d be eligible for retirement, a gold watch, and a regular check from Social Security. (In contrast, were it a person, Final Fantasy 6 wouldn’t even be alive any more. As recent ports and remakes have proven, it’s clearly some form of undead.) Yet there Oblivion and Fallout 3 were, getting a full 4k graphics overhaul along with the rest of their more spritely brethren. In both cases, the upgrade (and graphics horsepower of the console) made a noticeable difference.
I tested both Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas on the XBOX. (Both are built on the same engine, and both run through 360 back compat, so it’s a fair comparison.) Fallout 3, the updated title, ran buttery smooth. Distant objects (seen through a sniper scope) were much clearer than in New Vegas, controls seemed more responsive, and there was a near-total lack of “jaggies” (pixellated edges of objects). It was superior to New Vegas in every way. (As regards graphics. About the gameplay and story, I make no promises.) The only thing I found dissatisfying about the Fallout/Fallout test was that Bethesda had excluded everyone’s favorite tale of the Mojave Wasteland from their elderly game renovation program. It’s bitterly disappointing.
YOU SHOULD GET ON THAT RIGHT NOW GUYS, OKAY?
Last, my (subjective) testing showed that loading times have been reduced drastically. XB1 loading times were HORRENDOUS, a result of them opting for a cheapo 5400 RPM internal drive (with a tiny capacity to boot). Shortly after buying my XB1, I invested in an external 6 TB 7200 RPM USB 3.0 Toshiba HDD, installing all my games to it rather than the stock drive. (3.2 TB and counting!) The external was MUCH faster than the internal in every single instance.
Fortunately for me, the Toshiba works perfectly with the Xbox One X (I even backed up my login profile to it before switching consoles), meaning I could just plug it in and all my games were immediately available. (“Immediately”, after any necessary graphics updates, a quick redownload of copy protection certs, and a redownload of my saves from Microsoft’s “cloud”.) I tested load times on Skyrim, Mad Max, Black (through Xbox BC), and Forza Motorsport 5. Thanks to more RAM, faster RAM, and the beefed up CPU and GPU, load times were cut significantly, all the way from “distinctly annoying” down to “really fairly tolerable”. (Of course and of course Skyrim was the worst. Its load times are simply horrendous, even on the XBOX.)
XBOX costs $499 right now, a steep price for any console. (Down to $199 before taxes, if you can swing $300 in Game Stop in-store credit like I did.) For me, it was worth it for the loading time decrease alone, if nothing else. (My blood pressure will thank me, I’ll tell you hwat.)
The XBOX is a beefy machine, the current top-of-the-line console, and it supports 4k gaming and 4k Blu-Rays. (Plus, any game that runs on the XB1 will run on the XBOX.) Honestly, neither the hardware nor the game catalogue is sufficient to lure away most PS4 stalwarts, but if you’re looking to replace your XB1 (as I was), the XBOX is a no-brainer upgrade.
Even if you have to sell Game Stop all your gold fillings.