After spending several months telling myself I wasn’t going to buy an Xbox Series X, and watching other people scramble to pick up next-gen consoles, I caved and bought an Xbox Series X. That was a few weeks ago and recently I’m starting to wonder whether that was such a good idea.
I’m not going to lie: the decision to buy an Xbox Series X was 100 percent an impulse purchase, and not the result of spending weeks trying to track down a console that didn’t come from a scalper. UK retailer Argos got some stock and in typical next-gen fashion it sold out almost immediately. Except for one store, about 30 minutes away by car, which miraculously still had some available.
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A few days and 40 miles of driving later, I was rearranging the top of my TV unit to accommodate the overgrown brick that is the Xbox Series X. Hooray! Right? Maybe not, because in the weeks since, I’ve done almost nothing with it.
It’s been almost everything but a games console
In the weeks since I hooked up my new Xbox, I’ve done very little actual gaming on it. Which is weird when you consider how many games can play on a next-gen Xbox. There’s 20 years worth of stuff to enjoy, and all I seem to be using it for is playing 4K Blu-rays. When I’m not trying to sync my old save files with the cloud, that is.
The crazy thing is I already had an Xbox One S, and that was perfectly capable of playing 4K discs. Maybe it wasn’t quite the same quality as a dedicated 4K machine, but it played them and only took up about half the space of the Series X in the process.
The thing that gets to me the most is I rarely have time for games anymore. Certainly not on the TV, and that’s why I like the Nintendo Switch so much. It lets me pick up a game whenever I like, wherever I may be.
I can stream the Xbox Series X to my phone, and very easily, but it’s not quite the same. I still feel like I should be sitting on the couch, in front of the TV with a controller in my hands. Especially since a lot of the games I have are big, expansive games that benefit from having a much larger view of the world.
Those games also seem to require massive amounts of time and effort to stay on top of, I discovered this first hand when loading up my Fallout 4 save, and realized I hadn’t played the game for four years and had no idea what was going on. I was also shocked to find Elder Maxson was still alive, even though I’m pretty sure I killed him to obtain that sweet coat he wears. Plus, I distinctly remember completing the game and destroying the Institute. But it’s somehow still there.
It was nice to run around and check out the Commonwealth in 60fps. But the fact I’m an adult with a busy adult schedule that doesn’t include much time for games still one of those things that makes me wonder why I bothered picking up the Series X
The lack of exclusives doesn’t help
Console exclusives are usually quite rare this early in a new generation, and it doesn’t matter whether you’re the proud owner of a PS5 or an Xbox Series X. We’re less than a year into the new cycle, and all the platform exclusives also happen to be available on the older consoles.
The fact I have an Xbox Series X now doesn’t actually open up any new gaming opportunities for me. Because every game I could go out and buy would have worked on my older console. It’s a pretty incredible thing when you think about it, because the same disc is able to work across two different generations of hardware
That sort of forwards compatibility hasn’t really been done before, and even in the glory days of the PS2 it was impossible to pop a PS3 game into a PS2 and expect it to work. Even the PS5 sells separate discs for its exclusives, like Spider-Man: Miles Morales. It’s an impressive display of technology, and a consumer friendly practice that you never would have expected from a company like Microsoft even ten years ago.
Of course. the downside is that I could easily pick up a copy of something like Crash Bandicoot 4, and continue to play it on my Xbox One. The only major difference is that the Xbox Series X is able to run it at 4K 60fps. That’s a big step up from the original Xbox One and Xbox One S that I still have lying around, but it’s not like I’d be missing out on a lot.
The same goes for Game Pass, since all those titles are multi-generational. The Series X may look and play those games better, but it’s not like I wouldn’t have been able to play them without it.
It definitely doesn’t help that Microsoft seems far more committed to supporting the Xbox One into the future. It’s great that gamers don’t feel the pressure to upgrade if they don’t really want to. But at the same time it also decreases the value of the new console. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S have been a little bit easier to find than the PS5.
Despite that, I have no regrets
But when I start second-guessing my decision too much I’m reminded by one thing: Just because I haven’t been playing the console yet doesn’t mean I never will. There will come a time where I desperately want a next-gen console, and now I’m prepared. As the old saying goes, it’s better to have something and not need it, than need it and not have it.
Then again, whoever coined that saying probably meant emergency supplies or something of that ilk. Not $499 games consoles. But, hey, I won’t be playing Halo Infinite in anything less than 4K, which is something to look forward to. Just as long as Microsoft doesn’t make me seriously regret jumping in early by releasing a limited edition console design that looks a lot better than the current matt-black fridge.
Plus, the Series X has already taught me things I never knew about my TV. Like the fact that Samsung TVs from that era (the far off days of 2016) don’t have HDR turned on by default. I only found that out because the Xbox kept claiming I wasn’t using an HDR10-compatible display.
It turns out you have to deep dive into the settings and turn HDR on for each individual HDMI port. And even then it’s not actually labelled as anything even tangibly related to HDR. Samsung expected you to just know, or at least that someone on a forum somewhere would point you in the right direction. So that’s certainly a win for Microsoft, and another thing I can hold against Samsung. That win may not be worth $500 on its own, but it’s a win nonetheless.
I may wonder why I spent so much money on a shiny new console that I’ve barely touched sometimes, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say I have any serious buyer’s remorse. I just have to manage my time better, and find some games that make me a little more eager to pick up that controller.
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