Updated 11/9 at 4:15pm PST
What is it?
Available November 10, 2020
Available November 10, 2020
Microsoft's first major new game console since the launch of the Xbox One in 2013, the Xbox Series X will kick off a new generation of gaming hardware that will also welcome Sony's PlayStation 5 a few days later. It sports a new mini-tower look, though the controller will be mostly familiar to Xbox gamers. The UI will look similar to that of Xbox One, but there are a few new features including "Quick Resume" to jump in and out of compatible games without lengthy loads.
But here's where things get confusing: The fourth iteration of Microsoft's Xbox isn't just one new console, but two. While the Xbox Series X (not to be confused with the Xbox One X) will be the flagship Xbox, a lower-cost version, the Xbox Series S, will launch the same day. Both new Xbox consoles will play the same games (indeed, they play the exact same games as the Xbox One, for the moment) and feature superior technical specs to the prior generation hardware though they are roughly similar performance to the new PS5. But the cheaper Series S comes without an optical drive or 4K support and has less RAM and disc space than the Series X (as well as a slightly lesser graphics card).
What are critics saying about the Xbox Series X?
Below are reviews of the Xbox Series X console from a variety of professional sources. (Click on any publication name to read the full review.) Scores (converted to our 0-100 scale) are listed only if one has been assigned by the publication itself; otherwise, we have grouped the reviews into rough categories, from most to least positive.
Extremely positive reviews
With any console generation, it is hard to say if gamers should wait or dive in, but from what I have seen in the process of this review, and with the availability of Game Pass, the value improvement is notable. ... Your current library of games will look and play better, and you will be ready for what is coming down the pipeline. From the latest features to pushing framerates you never thought possible on your 4K TV, Microsoft with the Series X have delivered the most powerful console ever, and with Game Pass it is also potentially the best-valued option at launch to date.
The Xbox Series X resembles a gaming PC in nearly every way, from its tower-like form factor to its multi-tiered approach to bringing gamers on multiple platforms together. ... It’s everything we’ve been waiting for — and then some — out of the next Xbox. The only thing it’s missing? More exclusives.
It’s simply got some great ideas built into it, and it’s a significant step up from what we’re used to. Not all of its strengths will be made apparent right away, but it’s clear this is the natural evolution for anyone who’s heard the startup sound of the Xbox One on a daily basis.
Compared to six years ago, the Xbox Series X is Microsoft not just at its most confident but also at its very best. Even if the new console feels more like a refined version of the hardware that preceded it, it’s built on a foundation that has been years in the making and will only continue to grow stronger in the future. Microsoft has created a statement for the next generation of gaming, creating a machine with one goal in mind: Playing games.
Series X is a console for hardcore gamers who need the bleeding edge of gaming technology. It provides the same performance as the top-end, £2k+ gaming PCs - featuring fast load-times from the SSD, 60FPS, and better graphics - but costs less than £500, without the hassle of having to build it yourself. The console is a big, bold statement, both physically in your living room and for what it adds to your games, and the serious players looking for that true next-gen experience will find everything they are looking for in the advanced Xbox Series X.
The Xbox Series X represents a massive improvement over its predecessors. With a blisteringly fast SSD, a powerful GPU, and an impossibly quiet cooling system, this system ushers in the 4K / 60 era with a bang. Throw in far-reaching backwards compatibility, support for variable refresh rate, auto low latency input, and Smart Delivery, and this device is easily a must-have for this Holiday Season.
It is speedy and responsive and whisper quiet. It’s the kind of system that makes it okay to play on consoles again. ... While some people primarily turn on their consoles for marquee exclusives, others use their Xbox One every day. If that’s you, you have to upgrade. Please stop playing games on that busted last-gen hardware. The quality-of-life improvements on the Series X make the upgrade worth it on their own. You’re spending so much time in loading screens and boot screens, and Series X mitigates, minimizes, and even eliminates that. That’s without saying anything about the improved performance of the games themselves.
The preceding three iterations of Xbox have overwhelmingly catered to performance obsessives and fans of shooters and sports games. I don't fall into any of these categories, but I'm positively smitten with the Series X. It took nearly two decades, but Microsoft has finally broadened its horizons beyond "dudes who like Halo." After spending a couple weeks playing both older games and new ones, it's abundantly clear the Series X is a huge step up from both the Xbox One X and PS4 in terms of visuals and overall ease of use. ... Sure, Nintendo and Sony will have their must-play exclusives in the months ahead, but I'm already convinced Series X will be the platform I use most — it's got all the flash you can handle with far fewer headaches.
The Xbox Series X has the same UI and plays the same games (at least for now) as an Xbox One. But those games look better and the entire experience is just much, much faster. This is a worthy upgrade for sure.
This will feel like a serious quantum leap from the Xbox One. But without a 4K TV, you’re going to struggle to see the benefit of the Series X – you might want to consider the cheaper Series S instead. On the other side of the coin, if you happen to own a souped-up gaming PC, you won’t be missing out on too much here, especially now when all Xbox Series exclusives will also come to PC as standard.
The Xbox Series X is undoubtedly an impressive games console. In fact, we'd go as far to say it's barely a games console in the traditional sense at all. It's a gaming PC, with the exterior to match, but at a fraction of the price. Its problem (if you could call it that) is that it's so overpowered for what it will be used for in the early days. But then, that's why it's well worth the investment.
The Xbox Series X is a masterpiece of modern home entertainment optimization. It performs admirably, right out of the box, at the same time as it feels wholly familiar and comforting to use. Microsoft seems to have learned the most valuable lessons from the last launch, here – there is no learning curve, and no shock, save the shock of seeing even the oldest games look and feel better than they ever have before.
It’s a single machine that’ll run generations of Xbox games, and run them well. Furthermore, it’ll do so without looking fussy or making a racket. Sure, $499 is still a good wad of cash to drop on a gaming machine that hasn't yet shown any breathtaking next-gen capabilities. But I think it’s a reasonable price to pay for the tech you’re getting. ... I was originally expecting to feel a little disappointed with the Series X, given that there’s no one killer app or game to really make it feel like a next-gen powerhouse. But as games now look so good, we’re not going to get the graphical leap we've seen in previous generation consoles. Rather, the Series X is all about making the experience of gaming easier, faster and just better.
Even at this early stage where we've only seen a fraction of what Series X can do, it's already clear that it's a beast. Given how good the upgraded versions of the likes of Forza Horizon 4 and Gears 5 look, we can't wait to see how incredible they'll look when designed with the full grunt of Series X in mind. ... Series X absolutely feels like a massive step up on last generation.
If you’re a passionate fan of the Microsoft brand and have invested heavily in its games and hardware, the Xbox Series X is an essential piece of kit.
We Got This Covered
The Xbox Series X is more of a refinement than a revolution, but it's easily Microsoft's best console to date, thanks to its lightning-fast storage, powerful hardware, and an expansive catalog of compatible games.
The Xbox Series X is a spectacular console. Every aspect of it is dripping with the love of a massive team that clearly cared about every millimeter, every line of code that was poured into this monolithic whole. ... In terms of the ecosystem the Xbox Series X is attached to, there are still legitimate questions to be asked about Microsoft's ability to deliver high-quality photo-realistic AAA exclusive games.
In terms of aesthetics, controls, overall experience, and, sadly, the majority of what you’ll be playing on the console for the near future, it’s all very similar to Xbox One X – for better or worse. ... What is especially notable – and this goes for the Series X games available to us so far, as well as backwards compatible titles – is the sheer speed of the console.
The entire point of console gaming is games, and at this stage in the launch with so few games there is just not enough to say here. Consoles also seem to focus on exclusives, and here there is even less to say: Microsoft is certainly going to continue with the idea of exclusive games, but none of the launch day titles are exclusive to the Xbox Series X|S. ... However that does not mean there is not a compelling reason to upgrade to the Xbox Series X|S lineup. ... As far as the overall hardware, the Xbox team has delivered. The console is the most powerful console. The solid-state storage brings some very impressive quality-of-life improvements, and despite drawing a bit more power under load than the Xbox One X, the Xbox Series X is more or less silent at load. The design is a bit bland, but the matte black finish means that it is not going to really stand out, which is good.
This is a remarkable $499 machine. It's sleek, it's powerful, and its high-end games currently load at higher speeds than my own $1,000-plus testing PC can manage. ... Xbox Series X is impressive enough to be worth a launch-week purchase for Xbox devotees. So impressive, in fact, that it renders the value of Series S moot—that console's own dealbreakers become that much harder to swallow.
The Xbox Series X ... is absolutely, beyond any shadow of a doubt, the best game console that Microsoft has ever made. It’s faster, it’s more powerful, it’s practically silent, and it just straight-up looks like a damn beast. It does everything that the Xbox One and One X can do but better in every way. ... But it’s still not necessarily an easy item to recommend. For one thing, it costs $500, and there’s no single game or feature that sets it apart from previous Xboxes in a dramatic way.
Reviewing a console at launch is always something of an incomplete exercise, considering that it could be well over a year before we get our hands on games that truly push the hardware to its limits. The Xbox Series X|S complicates matters even further by building upon the Xbox One experience rather than starting from scratch. Nevertheless, the Xbox Series X is much than just an Xbox One X 2.0, especially when it comes to the raw power of the machine.
For now, it’s only worth the purchase for those who really want to experience games on the highest-end console possible or those who didn’t buy a console last decade and want to catch up.
The new Xbox Series X is a fast, powerful console that immediately feels like a big step up. ... It's a quiet, attractive little box with a ton of power. It makes old games look better, and it's powerful enough to take on the next several years of major games. It is, in short, the best Xbox I've ever used. ... [But] if you've already got an Xbox One or a PlayStation 4 — and especially if you've already got a gaming PC — you probably don't need an Xbox Series X (or a PlayStation 5) just yet.
The Series X isn’t a huge advancement from the One X, but for more serious gamers the performance gains will probably be worth it.
If anything, Microsoft's Xbox Series X is a reductive evolution, fine-tuning and perfecting what worked so well in the Xbox One line.
It’s fantastic. Everything performs just as Microsoft said it would. It’s a powerful beast of a machine that features incredible load times, smooth gameplay experiences and has some features I absolutely love. Aside from some minor bugs that have (or will be) patched, I have no major gripes with Microsoft’s latest next-gen console. The Series X is without question a significant leap forward. But do you need to buy it right now? No, you really don’t.
Den of Geek
The Xbox Series X is a powerful machine, and an impressive hardware upgrade for anyone looking for a home console that can run games at 4K resolution and up to 120 frames per second. ... But even a console this fast can’t outrun its most glaring issue: a lack of next-gen exclusives at launch to justify making the upgrade on day one, even if its impressive 4K upscaling and Auto HDR technology does enhance the console’s vast library of past-gen experiences.
Sony and Microsoft have completely different views on what the next generation entails, which is good news for everyone: you have an actual choice in terms of what platform to support, if you're not buying both. Although my time with the PS5 has felt very "new," I wholly appreciate Microsoft's commitment to the old. Microsoft has been honing its craft for years with the Xbox One, providing cross-generational backward compatibility going all the way back to the original Xbox. All of my Xbox One controllers work with this system and Microsoft developers have taken it upon themselves to make backward compatibility really pop with automatic enhancements. Game Pass works day one and allows players to instantly load out an arsenal of games. I can't stress this enough: Microsoft hasn't gotten enough credit for completely turning around the messaging of the Xbox One, and now is the time for all of that hard work to come back to roost. They're getting this generation started on the right foot and I hope it pays off.
After spending an ample amount of time with the Xbox Series X over the past few days, it’s clear that Microsoft has created a fantastic console that will be a joy to play on in the coming years. In the interim, though, we’re just still waiting on those must-have games that we’ve been promised to roll on through, and their continued absence here at launch can be felt.
I will say that, after getting to spend about a week with the Series X, I’m much less skeptical about next-gen gaming than I was in the months prior. When all is said and done, I do believe that it has the potential to be a revolutionary game console, and I’m excited for developers to unlock its potential.
An undeniably impressive, supercharged games console that doesn't feel quite as essential as we might have hoped.
The Xbox Series X is Microsoft’s ultimate gaming console, with the ability to deliver 4K games at 60 fps and beyond. It’s everything we’d want in a next-generation system. The only problem is that it’s launching without many compelling games.
Eurogamer / Digital Foundry
Xbox Series X excels in delivering a lag-free console experience to the extent that returning to the current-gen machines feels undesirable, to say the least. ... But what the machine lacks is a signature title that sets out what this console is all about and why we must have one. ... In the here and now at least, I love the hardware in terms of what I can potentially experience with it and the expert implementation of many of its forward-looking features - but a console is defined by its games, and in that sense, I still feel that I barely know the machine at all.
The new Xbox consoles are stunning pieces of next-gen hardware made even more attractive by the Game Pass subscription service, which has a slew of games that will look and play much better on the Xbox Series X.
The Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S introduce superb quality-of-life improvements like Quick Resume and the reduced load times over Xbox One or even Xbox One X, but don’t expect a markedly different or revolutionary leap forward when you first power on the system. If you’re simply looking for the best place to play your library of past, present, and future Xbox games, look no further than Xbox Series X/S.
If you’re looking for a console that rivals premium PC performance and features the most robust library of any console ever released, you can’t go wrong with Series X. If you’re looking for that next-gen wow factor, you might be better off waiting until next year ... If you want hassle-free gaming with shorter load times, crisp textures, smooth frame rates, and a huge library - much of which is included as part of your online subscription - Xbox Series X is impossible to beat.
It’s the most powerful console on the market spec-wise, and the decreased loading times that the SSD provides will be worth the price of the console to gaming enthusiasts. It’s an understated console that proves to be tremendously exciting upon closer inspection.
Overall, the Xbox Series X is a fantastic, straightforward console that still has a ton of potential to unlock. It's focused on being the best version of hardware to make the most of an existing Xbox ecosystem--and while that means it's not incorporating any wildly new ideas (depending on your view of Quick Resume), it's executing on that vision even in these early days. ... Holding off until you start seeing more games make the most of the system's potential is a fair and smart move, and nothing really screams out as a killer app for the Series X right now.
The Xbox Series X is an unconventional next-generation console. It's arriving with thousands of playable games from day one, each of which appears to play better than they ever have on console, but the broad appeal of that offering will likely depend on where your allegiances have been for the last generation. If you're returning home to Xbox after seven years with the PS4, I don't think you'll be disappointed. ... If you're coming into Xbox Series X from within, upgrading from an Xbox One, One S, or One X, then you'll immediately feel the benefits of the new system, but I anticipate that some will feel a little disappointed by the lack of anything truly brand new from the first-party studios that can act as a system showcase to justify the high price of entry as an early adopter.
If you’re going to buy one Xbox, save up that extra $200 and get the $500 Xbox Series X, because this thing is lovely. ... While Sony has put its energy toward a new controller with fancy triggers and improved haptics for its PlayStation 5, Microsoft has focused on something that feels practically Apple in its ease of use. ... In fact, there are only two places Sony can pull ahead and feel like the better console buy: exclusive games and the market they’re sold on.
God Is a Geek
I can’t pretend that Xbox Series X is the most exciting device I’ve ever used, but that is in huge part due to the familiarity of the system UI and the fact that it’s clearly got games in development that aren’t ready just yet. But for the first time in a while I can say that Xbox is on the right track. ... No, it’s not exciting, but it’s the closest to PC gaming you’ll get for the money.
Series X is a step forward in console design. Microsoft’s architects and designers should be commended on its size, form factor and the performance. It’s slick, sleek and silent. It's really well priced for the punch it’s packing. It’s an achievement, but its potential is yet to be fully unlocked.
They’re powerful, fast, home to the good-value Xbox Game Pass subscription, and make playing games as frictionless as possible. Rather than making a statement, the new Xboxes want to get out of your way. ... In 15 years covering games, I’ve never known a console to launch without a single exclusive game. ... Nothing about the Series X or Series S screams “buy me RIGHT NOW!” in my opinion, but equally, there’s not much to criticise: they do everything they promised to do, and they do it well.
Its core design, features and graphical capabilities are currently unmatched in the console space, but there’s one thing holding it back: new games. It’s hard to say the future is here for Microsoft when most of the impressive features in the Series X are primarily applied to older games.
This bold and minimalistically designed box is quiet, compact for both the power it packs and especially how it compares to the PS5, capable, and loaded with convenience features like instantly resuming and cycling between any of your recently played games. Compared directly to the PlayStation 5’s specs, it flat-out gives you more power for the same price. It’s going to be a joy to see what developers actually do with it in the coming years.
If you own the original Xbox One console from 2013 or have a PlayStation 4 or Pro and want to upgrade, you will definitely be pleased with purchase and best of all, Microsoft have future-proofed its console. However if you own an Xbox One X, you might want to hold off as this is still a valid console today with 4K.
The Xbox Series X takes the opposite approach [as the PS5]: it does not want to be new, it wants to be better. And, on that metric, it truly delivers. There may be no surprises, but there's plenty of delight. ... Still, it's clear that this console is – with the games we have now – only flexing a minor part of whatever power is waiting to be harnessed inside that box.
The Xbox Series X does not feel like the kind of machine we usually get at the start of a new generation ... By using a faster processor, doubling the graphics power, installing more, speedier memory, and including a solid-state storage drive set to ludicrous speed, Microsoft has created the ultimate Xbox One. It makes sense. Those are the components I would upgrade in my PC if I wanted the games I have there to perform better.
If you’re a diehard PlayStation fan, then this probably isn’t going to sway you ... But for $499 for the Xbox Series X and $299 for the Xbox Series S, Microsoft has created a worthy successor to the Xbox One that raises the bar in all the ways that matter.
New Game Network
It feels like a PC upgrade, in that all your games and peripherals stay, the interface is the same, but you just swap out the "core" so to speak. The games run better on this new hardware, even without patches from developers ... But as mentioned, for many fans it's more about the games, and while the excellent backwards compatibility is awesome for consumers, the system is lacking a knockout punch at release. The new form factor is also rather dull, and it may not fit in all media center furniture like previous consoles.
Brian X. Chen and Mike Isaac
The New York Times
Hardware-wise, the Series X has many similarities to Sony’s new PlayStation. ... But here’s the thing: If the systems are on fairly level footing, technology-wise, it makes the game releases themselves that much more important. ... For now, there isn’t anything all that compelling [on the Series X].
The Xbox Series X is an impressive console, loaded with power and speed to run the latest games. ... Ultimately, the Series X stands alongside the PlayStation 5 as an equal contender, which means that, as always, you must examine the available games on each system to choose the one that best fits your tastes. They’re both remarkable consoles, though the Xbox Series X has better backward compatibility, while the PS5 has a few more haptic feedback tricks in its new DualSense gamepad, as well as more exclusives to tempt you at launch.
The Xbox Series X looks like an Xbox One that swallowed a refrigerator, and runs like an Xbox One that swallowed a Lambo. It’s fast, sturdy, and unobtrusive, its goals and capabilities encapsulated in its brutalist industrial design.
The Series X is for people who want the newest tech and best graphics. That’s the easy answer. But as someone who regularly loses patience with and doesn’t have the attention span for slow tech, I found that Quick Resume and fast load times were where the Series X showed its value. Both have been boons for my playing time. If you fall into that crowd, you will have the same results.
With every part of the user experience improved upon with the new hardware, I’m flattened that the area that’s lacking is, a tale as old as time, the software. I’d love to peer into another timeline where Halo Infinite made launch and how that would have changed the narrative, but fortunately, there does appear to be greener pastures right around the corner.
This truly is a leap in quality in all aspects and the powerful console is sure to please fans of the Microsoft consoles – while providing enough to tempt to some new ones. ... No exclusive AAA games upon release is a shame and does lead to the feeling that something is missing from the console launch – although the newly boosted Gamespass does go some way to making up for it.
San Jose Mercury News
Although the Xbox Series X may not have the eye-popping games now, it is built for a specific vision of the future. It’s one where the boundaries of gaming melt away and players can access their games anywhere.
The Series X is familiar and superior, and such a pleasure to use given its speed, but it currently serves essentially as another iteration of the Xbox One versus something totally new and different, for better or worse. It’s an adequate starting point for Xbox to build on for years to come, but its long-term prospects depend on Xbox Game Studios supporting it in a way they failed to support the Xbox One. The Xbox Series X needs legitimate top-notch exclusive content to go with its highly impressive speed and power. ... The Xbox Series X may be the most powerful console ever made but there's nothing that demonstrates this yet and all of its games can be played on older hardware.
The Sixth Axis
If you're coming from a base PS4 or Xbox One in particular, this will be a huge step forward.
It’s lacking new content, and ultimately games sell systems, so it is fair to say there’s no need to buy an Xbox Series X right now ... It does, however, significantly improve the performance of your existing library. If you, like many of us, revamped your home entertainment setup during the shamble that is 2020, Xbox Series X is the perfect addition to bring PC quality games with the simplicity of a console to your new 4K TV.
Though there’s something slightly underwhelming about the Series X launch - it being positioned as more of an evolution than a revolution, with Microsoft keen to move away from the idea of exclusives - this is still a monstrously powerful machine that feels truly next-gen to use. Now let’s have some more games.
The Sydney Morning Herald
With a huge amount of power, a broad focus on compatibility and forward-facing support for all the latest audio and video standards, the Xbox Series X is a seriously impressive machine. ... But there are also few reasons to upgrade from older consoles right at launch.
The Xbox Series X is more powerful than any Xbox before, but at launch you can’t use it to play any games that you couldn’t before.
Vic Hood, Nick Pino, and Adam Vjestica
The Xbox Series X isn’t an essential purchase – at least, not right now. But that isn’t to say it’s not a fantastic piece of hardware, with a lot of potential.
If you are a more casual gamer, you may think of many of these changes as esoteric. And you would not necessarily be wrong. If the Series X suffers from anything, it is that its most impressive features can seem somewhat intangible. The new controller, for instance, is terrific in the hands, lovingly textured on the rear side and across the neatly trimmed triggers. As a game controller it feels great --a clear improvement over the Xbox One controller-- and also features a new share button that finally makes saving screenshots and videos a smooth experience compared to the Xbox One’s clunk. What it doesn’t have is the shock of the new.
Andrew E. Freedman
As it stands, the Series X’s engineering is impressive, the offerings provide plenty of choice, and the games look and play well. This is Xbox, refined.
The Xbox Series X console is equipped with just about everything a gamer could want for the next five to seven years of gaming. It’s very powerful, very fast, has comfy controller, and features a pleasant enough UI. I didn’t have a single negative experience using the console in the week or so that I had it. ... The problem for the Xbox Series X is an age-old one now at this point: the games.
Brett Molina and Mike Snider
In some ways, moving to the Xbox Series X felt like upgrading your smartphone. You get a device at launch that operates more nimbly and helps your games run more efficiently, and you maintain a familiar user experience, as the interface remains very similar to Xbox One. And you're not starting over with brand new games or apps. However, there's no immediate experience on the Series X pointing to what "next-gen" gaming looks like. Of course, those experiences will come soon as developers start to push the technical capabilities for the Series X. For now, it's a joy just spending less time loading my games.
After a very weak generation, Xbox Series X is a solid rebound for Microsoft. It's very powerful, its backward compatibility is impressive, and Xbox Game Pass is second to none. That said, the Xbox Series X still lacks a true killer app—a consistent issue going back to last generation—and touted features like Quick Resume are currently disabled in some instances. We're definitely optimistic about the future, but it might be best to take a wait and see approach before investing fully in the Xbox Series X.
There’s a reason the Xbox Series X even looks like a PC — it’s because it often feels like one. ... Microsoft has focused on the basics that really matter: high frame rates, a quiet and cool console, faster load times, accessory support, and backward compatibility. In my three weeks of using an Xbox Series X, it’s fair to say it has delivered on these basics. ... There’s one big question that remains for me with the Xbox Series X: when will Microsoft’s 23 first-party studios deliver the next-gen games to truly show what this console is capable of? Powerful hardware and a sleek user experience are only part of the mix. Microsoft will need the games to really make the Series X feel like something brand-new.
I revisited a bunch of games from three generations of video game history and found them improved and in many cases as good as ever. But nothing can quite beat the excitement of something in gaming feeling truly shiny, new and revolutionary. One of the greatest strengths of these machines is how reverent they are of the past – but at launch, at least, this focus feels to come at the loss of an exciting early glimpse of what the future holds for this new hardware.
The improvements to load times, faster CPU and behind the scenes enhancement to input latency results in a machine that simply feels much better than the previous console. Even something as simple as navigating menus is a huge step up on Xbox Series X, with screens loading near-instantly, allowing users to get to where they need and back into their game with little effort. ... But unless the appeal of a new graphics card or memory upgrade gets your endorphins firing, there might not be much desire to transition to the next-gen straight away via Series X. ... For those seeking the thrill of the unknown that’s traditionally come with previous console generations, that simply isn’t here on Xbox Series X. There are dozens of reasons to pick up this slick and powerful console, but exclusive software is not one of them.
It’s the thrill that I imagine PC players must get after purchasing a new graphics card: the joy of future possibilities, mingled with that of familiar gems being polished to a previously unreachable gleam.
The Washington Post
It’s not a new experience for Xbox players, it’s an upgrade and continuation of what existed before. The difference lies in the quality-of-life improvements and the speed in which it gets you playing. ... Depending on your most recent Microsoft console, the new Xbox machines may feel like a small or a huge upgrade. ... The Xbox Series X is clearly a powerful machine, capable of running high-end, complicated games at high framerates. We just wish we had more exciting titles to test, and it’s hard not to notice the void of excitement left after the deflating delay of “Halo Infinite."
For now, I view the Xbox Series X as a monolith of untapped potential. What's on offer for players is a chance to play what they already own in the highest fidelity possible and with a level of performance that could never have been achieved on the older console generations. That alone might be enough for players to want to invest for another five-plus years on a single console with the $500 Xbox Series X. The Quick Resume and Smart Delivery features are two of the smartest enhancements I've seen come to a next-generation console. ... [B]ut I can't see anything with this console launch that can definitively only be experienced on the Xbox Series X.
Unless you're ready to invest in a new TV, I can't think of a great reason to get a Series X yet, unless some mild visual upgrades are enough for you.
Featuring a beastly AMD (AMD) processor, a 1TB solid-state drive, and the ability to play thousands of games from Microsoft’s prior Xbox consoles, the Series X is a massive upgrade for gamers. ... That said, a console is only as good as the games that are made for it. And Microsoft’s first-party titles are lacking out of the gate.
While the improvement in graphics (versus the Xbox One X) does feel exciting, not everyone will notice the difference. ... Where the Xbox One X — and Microsoft's Xbox line in general — lags behind other console lines is in games. ... For now, the Xbox's main edge on PlayStation is the Xbox Game Pass. ... But you don't need Microsoft's $500 Xbox console to access the Game Pass — gamers with the cheaper Series S console can, of course, get a subscription — and the games that run on Xbox Series X, including the upcoming "Halo Infinite," will also run on the Series S and older consoles.
The Xbox Series X is like an athlete who spent the year practicing for the big game, only to find the rest of the team didn’t show. It’s a powerhouse that corrects many of the wrongs from the early days of the Xbox One. It undeniably has a bright future. But, due to key software delays, it’s not a system that must be purchased immediately – or any time in the coming months.
The next generation of consoles is an incremental upgrade over the previous generation, and without a strong lineup of new games coming at launch, the Xbox Series X isn't particularly exciting.
For us, a new console should not only be about playing new games but new games that would’ve been impossible in the previous generations. Launch titles are rarely classics but they usually provide at least a hint of what’s to come. But with the Xbox Series X all you can do is read the tech specs, listen to the promises, and hope. ... It’s the most powerful console ever made (in theory, there’s no way to tell by playing any of its games) and yet it’s been lurking under our TV for two weeks now and we’ve really not been sure what to do with it. Which is a very strange feeling given the release of a new console should be one of the most exciting experiences possible for a gamer.
This machine isn't really representative of a new generation of consoles, it's actually far more like dropping a new graphics card into your PC. Your existing games library still works, but suddenly performs better, you now have access to graphical features your old hardware might not have afforded you in new games, but otherwise it's essentially the same experience, only better. ... If you're a PC gamer, with a system from the last five years or so, I simply can't recommend the Xbox Series X as a viable purchase, whether as a replacement or secondary machine.
As good of an impression as the Series X makes with its physical design and internal components, it disappoints on the software side in equal measure. The system UI is largely similar to the Xbox One and the dreadful Xbox apps for Windows 10 — it is functional, but the less time I spend with it, the better. ... Load times seemed solid across the board, but I saw nothing that lined up with the lofty promises made during the console announcement in regards to the solid-state drive. In general, the experience was akin to what you would find on a random gaming PC with a SATA SSD. ... I expect the drive space will be a serious issue for early adopters of Series X. ... As it stands right now, anyone who is angling to pre-order or buy a Series X console for launch will be investing in a promise from Microsoft that things will get better.
This doesn’t immediately feel like a mind-bending upgrade over Microsoft’s previous release ... Really most people won’t be able to take full advantage of the Series X until next year anyway. There’s an overwhelming chance that your TV or AV receiver are not positioned to maximize what the Series X can offer, namely 8K gaming or high frame rate (120fps) 4K gaming.
The pre-launch experience of the Xbox Series X ... often felt like a marginally upgraded Xbox One X with a handful of convenience features. ... For people who sat-out the One X they're undeniable upgrades. But so far they don't have a library of new games or lavishly updated older ones to make a persuasive case for their own frivolous necessity.
What about the Xbox Series S?
Bottom line: It's not necessarily the bargain you might think it is, though it looks better than its bigger brother and could find a niche audience in casual gamers (or parents thereof). While the bulk of the attention from critics has focused on the main Series X console, serveral publications also addressed the cheaper Series S model.
Trusted Reviews notes that "the added performance power allow[s] for significantly better graphics than what's possible with an Xbox One S," but also complains that "the stingy 364GB storage capacity is inexcusable for a console lacking a disk drive, making the expensive storage expansion an essential expense."
Stevivor agrees that the math doesn't add up for the Series S, noting that the price of the memory expansion card (which you'll need if you want to play more than one Xbox Series optimized game at a time) outweighs the cost savings of downgrading to the Series S from the Series X.
PCMag likewise argues against a purchase, calling the S "a worse overall value" than the X, adding, "While the Xbox Series X is significantly more expensive, it's a much better buy [than the Series S] for everything you get."
IGN suggests its purpose could be as "an excellent second console, like if you want something for a kid who plays on a smaller screen or if, for example, you have a PS5 but want to occasionally dip into the smorgasboard that is Game Pass."
Polygon's Maddy Myers thinks the low cost will find the console a home among gamers less picky about the technicals: "I’m not the target market for the Xbox Series S. But I do think the console will make sense for many people, especially during this adjustment period. High-speed broadband access isn’t universal enough to justify the demolition of the disc drive across all video game consoles. More importantly, we’re on the brink of a worldwide economic collapse thanks to an ongoing pandemic. Spending $299.99 instead of $499.99 on a small box that will play some very good video games with your friends and family seems prudent, and, you know, it’ll still work almost as well as those other, much more expensive boxes."
Critical Hit similarly notes a lesser technical experience and small storage space, and advises, "The Series S is a more casual gaming experience and one that will easily find a home with families looking for an affordable distraction or gamers who aren’t too bothered with how many teraflops their console is capable of."
Ars Technica admits that "the engineering of 1080p game performance [on Series S] and blistering IO across the board are a forceful boot to the side of a docked-to-a-TV Nintendo Switch at the same $299 mark," but otherwise finds the cheaper console hobbled by low memory and performance issues compared to the Series X, making it hard to recommend as a purchase.
But CNET had a better experience with the Series S, and recommends it "if you're a casual gamer, have a smaller TV or just want to spend less."
Engadget advises, "If you’re eager to get your hands on a console with smoother framerates, rapid loading screens and Quick Resume, the Series S gets the job done. However, if you want a console with longevity, the Series X is a better choice in terms of technical fidelity, the inclusion of the disc drive and storage capacity." They add that if you think you might wind up springing for a memory expansion card on the S, it probably makes more sense just to go with the X.
What are the Xbox Series X launch games?
Microsoft's one planned major console exclusive, Halo Infinite, was delayed into 2021, leaving their launch game list a little bare. But here are the games scheduled to be available for the Xbox Series X/S consoles this month. (All games will be out November 10 unless otherwise indicated, and reviews for many of these games won't be available until closer to launch day.)
- Assassin's Creed: Valhalla
- Borderlands 3
- Bright Memory
- Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War (November 13)
- Cuisine Royale
- Devil May Cry 5: Special Edition
- Dirt 5
- The Falconeer
- Forza Horizon 4
- Gears 5
- Gears Tactics
- Grounded (early access)
- Halo: The Master Chief Collection (November 17)
- Just Dance 2021 (November 12)
- King Oddball
- Manifold Garden
- Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate Edition (November 17)
- NBA 2K21
- No Man's Sky
- Observer: System Redux
- Ori and the Will of the Wisps
- Planet Coaster
- Poker Club (November 19)
- RPG Time: The Legend of Wright
- Samurai Spirits
- Sea of Thieves
- Tetris Effect: Connected
- The Touryst
- War Thunder
- Warhammer: Chaosbane Slayer Edition
- Watch Dogs Legion
- WRC 9 FIA World Rally Championship
- Yakuza: Like a Dragon
- Yes, Your Grace
Because of the new hardware's backwards compatibility, all Xbox One, Xbox 360, and original Xbox games will work on the Xbox Series X/S at launch, with the exception of games requiring the Kinect add-on. All previous-gen games should perform better on the new console even if they don't get a next-gen software update (and some will get free upgrades, with most delivered automatically via the new console's "Smart Delivery" function, improving performance even further). The Series X/S is also compatible with Microsoft's Game Pass subscription service, which provides immediate access to a growing library of games for subscribers.
What do you think?
Are you planning on grabbing Microsoft's new console? Give us your take in the comments section below, and then check out reviews of the competing PlayStation 5.