Our brutally honest review of the new hardware from Microsoft.
Ultra-modern Hardware with a classic controller
Admittedly, most of the key data of the new Xbox generation are already well known thanks to the established magazines that received their hardware many weeks in advance. Every review on the net praises the short loading times and the smooth frame rates that can be achieved with the new console, while the fan remains comparatively very quiet. The quick resume feature known from the Nintendo Switch, which now works with several games at the same time, is also praised in every article. On the other hand, there is criticism in the game selection, as Microsoft cannot present a single major Xbox exclusive title due to the postponement of Halo Infinite, which, however, partially tears out the successful backward compatibility. So far, so well known.
Little attention is paid to the machine’s new controller. In contrast to the competition, Microsoft does not use any gimmicks at all – the nameless pad has no motion sensors, no touchpad, no LEDs, no NFC chip and no microphone. OK then! In fact, the pad doesn’t even have a battery, so you have to buy either a play-and-charge kit or rechargeable batteries yourself for wireless operation. Alternatively, you can simply connect the controller via a USB-C cable, which is also not included with the console. Despite the missing features, the pad from Microsoft is only slightly cheaper than the controllers of the competition.
At first glance, the control pad looks a bit strange and raises the question of who absolutely had to show off his abilities to improve things. In practice, however, it works flawlessly and implements all inputs into the game with absolute precision. So far, all other commands have also been transmitted without errors or latency: After several hours with the demanding 2D action title Dead Cells, I never had the feeling that I could attribute a loss of HP to the controller. In addition, after a while, the roughened underside of the pad becomes very pleasant and offers a very secure hold even for sweaty hands.
Possible reasons to buy
There is exactly one game that appeared in the Microsoft Store at the same time as the Xbox Series X and is not available in this form on any other platform – namely Tetris. The question why someone who is not an Xbox fanboy and who buys the console simply because of its brand name should buy an Xbox Series X at this point in time is entirely justified – but there are plausible answers.
First, there are the upgrades that some existing games have received. I tested two titles that Microsoft says have been specially adapted and improved for the new consoles: Forza Horizon 4 and No Man’s Sky. The former is clearly the best-looking video game I’ve ever played and achieves a practically photorealistic look in 4K, while graphic errors and frame rate drops are an absolute exception. And I actually missed the start of a race because I wanted to use the supposed loading screen to take a sip. Even the technically rather mixed No Man’s Sky shows clearly noticeable progress in direct comparison to the PS4 Pro version. The optics are noticeably sharper and more detailed, the loading times much shorter and the frame rate absolutely fluid, without the fan of the new console being impressed. The fact that such a clear generation jump can be seen even in revised last-gen titles definitely makes you want more.
Because of the Game Pass, the new console could also be particularly worthwhile for non-fans. Those who have never owned an Xbox console can access flagship titles like Gears 5, the Halo Master Chief Collection, Forza 7, Forza Horizon 4, Sea of Thieves, Ori and the Will of the Wisps, Rare Replay at virtually no additional cost , ReCore or New Super Lucky’s Tale and play them immediately. From this point of view, however, it is a pity that older titles – apart from Rare Replay and EA Play – are almost not represented in the Game Pass. The Mistwalker RPG Lost Odyssey and series such as Project Gotham Racing or Ninety-Nine Nights are examples of titles that are only available for Xbox consoles to this day and no longer generate profits for their publishers, but the Game Pass, above all, from the perspective of Could add value to new customers.
The best value for money ever
However, the greatest strength of the Game Pass is without a doubt the very strong third-party support. Subscribers can not only access all first-party titles, but also games such as NieR Automata, Yakuza Zero, The Outer Worlds, Kingdom Hearts III, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order or Hollow Knight and simply download and play them. In addition, the service is constantly being expanded with new additions. If you buy an Xbox Series X and take out a Game Pass subscription, you basically never have to buy a game again and will still never be bored – and save a lot of money, especially since you can cancel your subscription at any time and again at a later point in time can continue.
In addition, you can access a points system via Microsoft Rewards, which corresponds in the broadest sense to the gold points used on Nintendo Switch Online. For example, you currently receive a bonus of 6,000 points when you buy selected games, which is roughly equivalent to 6 euros. In addition, reward points can also be easily earned if you complete certain tasks that are usually extremely quick and easy to complete. You won’t get rich this way, but if you use your Xbox Series X regularly and wait for good deals, you can certainly get hold of one or the other add-on for free.
The consensus on the net is clear: Both Sony and Microsoft have delivered technical gems with the new generation of consoles that can effortlessly display a photo-realistic look in 4K and with a smooth 60 frames per second and drastically reduce loading times. Now that I’ve been able to convince myself of Microsoft’s new console, I can confirm that these hymns of praise are more than just ramblings about paid influencers. Technical progress has seldom been so strongly noticeable immediately after the start of a new generation of consoles. It’s not just about graphic glare; Thanks to more stable frame rates and shorter loading times, the actual gaming experience also benefits from the stronger hardware. Which of the two consoles you choose now depends mainly on the game selection and personal taste. Sony may seem like the better launch lineup at first glance, but if you haven’t owned an Xbox One, the first-party titles available in Game Pass will be yours for months. And by the time you’re done with that, there will be dozens more titles for the subscription service. For me personally, it is clear that I want to get a PS5 as early as possible, but will only use the Sony console for important exclusive titles and absolute must-plays. Otherwise, the Xbox brand is clearly ahead of the game for me, as Microsoft not only has excellent hardware, but also an exceptionally good business model with the Game Pass.