I wish I'd taken notes along the way to capture all of my thoughts, but I'm going to do a quick write-up of my impressions from taking it out of the box to playing all weekend.
A bunch of Youtubers have done a decent job describing the experience of unboxing the system. There's really nothing that remarkable about it -- it's a huge box with no surprises.
I honestly wish the packaging was made out of more recyclable material. I'm not sure if the foam glued to the inside of the box can be thrown in my recycle bin.
The controller is nice -- it's the Xbox One pad with some tweaks to the triggers, a new disc-shaped d-pad similar-looking to the one on the Elite controller, and a really noticeable grippy texture on the underside of the controller that's kind of nice.
I didn't spend a bunch of time playing with the d-pad but it seems usable. I was a little worried about it changing to a disc, but it's still pretty clicky like the Xbox One pads, which seems to make hitting the cardinals obvious and easy. I'll have to play some Pac-Man Championship Edition to put it to the test. :D
Probably the best addition to the controller is the dedicated "share" button that's located under the Xbox button in the center of the controller. Microsoft tried to turn the Xbox 360 back button into a share button on the Xbox One, but it was a dumb idea, and a bunch of games started using it as a select button, which is what it wound up being in most 360 games. I haven't used it much, but apparently a tap captures a screenshot, and a long press starts recording video.
Setup was a snap. I unplugged my Xbox One X and moved it out of the way and stuck the Series X in its place. I kept the old HDMI cable since it's routed through my stereo rack, but used the new power cord.
Using the Xbox app on my phone to setup the Xbox was pretty nice - while the console was tied up downloading new stuff, I could grab my phone and start getting logged in and that kind of thing. Super painless. Definitely get the Xbox app to make setting up your new Xbox easier if you're migrating from an older system and already have an Xbox account.
One thing that I always find annoying with setting up Xboxes is that they don't tie your streaming service logins back to your Xbox Live credentials, so I had to log into Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, and the rest of my streaming service apps again. I wish they'd close that gap and make it easier to move from Xbox to Xbox.
Setup: Adding External Storage
I bought a 1TB SSD and threw it in a cheap enclosure to store old Xbox/360/One titles on so they're not taking up space on the precious new storage built into the console. The process to get that running was a little clunky. I either plugged it in before the console was ready to see plug & play events or something, but while I was getting things setup, I went into storage to try and format the drive, but didn't see any options. I finally just yanked the USB cable and plugged it back in once the system was up and running and that finally got it to recognize the new drive and brought up the format prompt.
I was presented with two options - an option to format the drive so it would be storage for screen shots and videos that could be played on a PC, or formatted to hold games. Obviously went with the latter. There was no on-screen progress bar or anything to indicate status and I walked away.
When I came back an hour or two later, it still didn't show up under storage, so I rebooted the console and it finally appeared and I was able to move a bunch of older stuff to it, which was as easy/clunky as I expected, but was pretty quick overall.
I'm not sure how I feel about this feature yet. When it works, it's rad, but more often than not, it didn't and it makes me confused as to why.
Keep in mind this was my first weekend with the new system, so I was bopping in and out of a lot of games, so part of my issues may be because of that -- I may have started more things than I thought and when I went back to one of the earlier games my state had been overwritten, but I really do think I had a couple instances where the feature just straight-up didn't work correctly.
I'm going to talk about the two new X|S games I spent the most time playing this weekend: Call of Duty Cold War and Assassin's Creed Valhalla.
Call of Duty was a total letdown when it comes to Quick Resume -- it flat out doesn't support it at all even when playing the single player campaign. I'm guessing this is due to Activision's lame ass always-on network connection that has absolutely no application within the SP campaign. It's super disappointing to have to sit through the opening video showing the dozen or so game studios that were involved in the creation of this game. I really wish they'd peeled off the separate elements of the game into separate apps like Crackdown 3 did so the SP campaign was launched individually, could Quick Resume, and also be uninstalled now that I'm done with it.
Assassin's Creed Valhalla's Quick Resume did work nicely for the most part. Keeping in mind that I was jumping in and out of games I did find that I had to boot the game from scratch more than I expected, but I think the fault there lies with the lack of visual indicators when a game's ready to quick start more than anything.
I think some indicator in the UI that showed that a game state was still captured would help a lot to communicate to users what was going to happen when they tried to go back to a game they'd just been playing.
I have to admit I spent a ton of time playing Star Wars Battlefront 1+2 from the original Xbox with TommyW. We both love that game, and we've been playing it consistently for years. I honestly don't notice any changes from the Xbox One version other than the fact that Quick Resume worked when we went back to play it a few hours after an earlier session, and that was pretty slick. Any opportunity to skip the original Xbox boot-up logo makes me happy. haha
I read or heard some people talking about HDR adding something to Geometry Wars, so I played a bit. It does add *something* to the game, but honestly - it's such a low-res game it looked really clunky; I'm not sure it's that beneficial, though I didn't turn it off to see the before, so ...
EDIT: I tried Geometry Wars 2 last night, and does look amazing. It looks incredible on my OLED with the Xbox Series X's fake HDR going.
I played a bunch of random old 360 and Xbox games, and just like before, you have to sit through the original systems' boot-up animation, and there's quite a bit of time sometimes for the save game syncing to happen, but everything works fine once it gets going, and my Xbox One games are all right where I left them, which is pretty cool.
I fired up Forza Horizon 4 which has been enhanced for X|S and it seemed to run smoother than I remember it running on the Xbox One X, so that's cool. I'd go watch a Digital Foundry video if you're interested in how well it holds frame rate and all that business. ;)
Nothing really new here to note except for the Apple TV app, which was a nice addition. I spent a bunch of time last night watching Ted Lasso using the free year I got of Apple TV's streaming service with my MacBook Air.
Btw, watch Ted Lasso -- I'm like four episodes in and loving it.
Another thing I'm thrilled about is that my Harmony remote still works with it. The clever bastards at Microsoft put an IR receiver in the button on the front of the console used to pair controllers. I love it!
I think this is the most disappointing thing about the launch of the Xbox Series X - a definite lack of new titles to play. Like I said earlier, I got Assassin's Creed: Valhalla, and Call of Duty: Cold War.
I haven’t played a ton of AC:Valhalla only because I’m finding it pretty lackluster so far. I’m only a couple hours in, but the combat is just whacking the right bumper and trigger for the most part. I’m sure it’ll get better, but I feel like Ghost of Tsushima stole this game’s thunder in every possible way, and honestly I'd rather be replaying that instead of what I've played of AC:V so far. The only saving grace about AC:V was the price -- it's just $60 -- enjoy it while you can, because $70 (nearly $75 w/ tax) games are here and COD: Cold War is one of them.
I finished the single player campaign for COD:Cold War in what I’d guess to be under 10 hours, and it was a good time. Typical COD campaign with its usual twists and turns. With all the hullaballoo about this being in the 80s and everything, I was hoping I’d be up to my eyeballs in nostalgia, but really it’s pretty low-key. Sure there’s Reagan and they use a CRT filter on all the video clips in the game with abandon, but it doesn’t smack me over the head with that stuff which I’m a little disappointed about. I guess if you hire a bunch of kids to make a game that takes place in a decade during which they weren’t born or too young to remember, you get this. haha
I tried hopping into COD:Cold War multiplayer a few times, and as always I suck. A couple of the bigger game modes I flat out don’t understand, which led to some embarrassing deaths, but for me that’s typical COD MP. I Googled and it says that Cold War has some couch co-op multiplayer options, but I couldn’t begin to tell you how to get that going even with two controllers hooked up — it wasn’t obvious.
As with past COD games, I’m encountering the same old bugs. After sitting through the game’s loading screens because Quick Resume doesn’t work, I get into the game to find there’s no sound — the Xbox UI noises are happening, but the game audio was borked. Annoying. I crashed to desktop while playing both SP and MP a couple times. I could never connect to a Zombies game, either. I’m not sure if that’s because it’s broken, or no one is playing it, in either case - it didn’t work.
At this point, it’s another faster Xbox. The speed is nice, but the games are lacking. I have Game Pass Ultimate, and even with that and an Xbox catalog stretching back over 19 years, I’m struggling to find things that I really want to play on it. I’ve already taken my trips down memory lane through the best of the 360 catalog on the Xbox One, and there really wasn’t much on the Xbox One that I want to revisit. I’ve played enough Halo: MCC thank you.
The most frustrating part is that I can’t get my grubby hands on a PS5, and I keep seeing those videos of Days Gone running like butter and I want that. haha
Microsoft knows their catalog’s a problem and they bought a ton of studios to strengthen their lineup of exclusive games, but I hope Game Pass doesn’t create a situation where every game on Xbox doesn’t wind up like Sea of Thieves, which seems like an Early Access game that could be blopped out on Game Pass so subscribers could play what was done of the game while it’s built. Grounded is another one that follows that pattern, and I’m wondering how many more games will be released half-baked on Game Pass. I can’t really fault Grounded since it’s being built by a small team, but I’m not really enthusiastic about what might start happening to games from all the other studios Microsoft just sponged up. Bethesda’s next game might wind up being their Star Citizen. :P
I'm happy my back catalog of stuff is preserved, and there's a ton there that I do go back to, but we need some new software to keep me coming back to Xbox.