Looking good on the way to Xbox Series consoles launch, Part 8

Welcome back fellow Xbox fans, geeks and gamers! The 9th console generation is about to begin with the twin-launch of the premium Xbox Series X and the budget-friendly Xbox Series S next-generation consoles! Team Xbox also announced that they will be organizing a launch-related celebration on November 10 which will be international in scope. At this stage, there have been no scandals, no controversies and no negative vibes towards Microsoft’s next-generation consoles and this is truly a major improvement over the debacle of 2013 that doomed Xbox One before it even launched.

Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S.

So what is the latest? Things are look really good as several journalists, bloggers and YouTubers officially published their respective reviews of Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S, the units of which they already have and recently they were granted a week of time to test the machines, play games and observe it all for reviewing.

CNET.com’s Dan Ackerman described Xbox Series X as “a reductive evolution, fine-tuning and perfecting what worked so well in the Xbox One line.”

For his part, Geoff Keighley posted: “Xbox has nailed a fast, fluid, powerful console experience. it is a dream to use; the most player-friendly Xbox yet. Everything from the UI to the experience makes play more seamless.  I love the snap-in storage + quick resume.”

“Xbox has built a great foundation for developers to build on. The launch lineup is not great. I find myself mostly playing existing Xbox One titles that load faster and have some graphical tweaks,” Keighley added. “That said it’s incredible this console is launching in a pandemic.”

Over at The Verge, Tom Warren wrote: “Microsoft’s intention with this new generation is to bring a PC-like experience to a console. You can feel it throughout the Series X and even the smaller Series S. If you upgraded from a GTX 1060 gaming PC to an RTX 3080 PC right now, you’d get the same Windows 10 you know and access to the same games you’ve been playing for years. Everything would just feel faster and look better, and you’d be ready for the latest and greatest games.”

Now check out the Xbox Series console reviews in the form of videos below.

If you are having trouble understanding what the Xbox Series consoles feature and what makes them different from each other, check out the official FAQ.

As seen above, pre-launch hardware reviews of Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S are strongly positive and not even the lack of a launch killer-app (note: red hot video game). Super smooth gameplay, lesser latency, backward compatibility, much shorter load times, quick resume, 60FPS (60-frames-per-second) frame rate being the new normal for the next generation, and much more will define the next-generation experience with Xbox.

When it comes to exclusive video games, there is Gears Tactics to enjoy at launch although its appeal will most likely be limited to strategy game fans (note: those who enjoyed XCOM games of recent years) and Gears of War fans. For the foreseeable future, the exclusive games supporting the Xbox Series consoles (plus Windows 10 PCs and smartphones within the Xbox ecosystem) will come in due time. As there are almost twenty-five game studios working under the Xbox Game Studios group (which already includes the Bethesda studios), production of exclusive games is already underway and once they are ready, expect around five exclusive games released per year starting next year.

And then there is the 3rd party game support which is strong for Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S. Launching along with the two mentioned consoles is the cross-generation game Assassin’s Creed Valhalla which should really shine running on next-generation technology.

In an article on Xbox.com, Xbox Wire Editor-in-Chief Will Tuttle wrote: “the visually stunning Valhalla is the perfect way to kick off the next generation of gaming on Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S. I’ve been playing the game on Xbox Series X and have been blown away by just how good it looks and feels. On Xbox Series X, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla runs in glorious 4K at a buttery 60 frames per second and truly feels like a next-gen title. Upon completing a brief prologue, I found myself in the English countryside, surrounded by verdant fields and trees adorned with vibrant fall foliage. This was where the power of the Xbox Series X really became evident.”

“Standing next to a stream, I marveled at the way light shimmered and reflected off of the surface. When I walked through a stand of trees, I looked up to see rays of light streaming through the leaves above me, while the tall grass at my feet swayed in the breeze. Riding my horse to the top of a nearby mountain, I was blown away by the sweeping vistas that greeted me, all bathed in the orange glow of the setting sun,” Wittle added. “Ubisoft has always created immersive worlds to explore in the Assassin’s Creed franchise. Not only does Assassin’s Creed Valhalla on Xbox Series X continue that tradition, it pushes it to the next level by creating a world that feels like it’s more alive than any I’ve ever seen before. Even as I played the game, I found myself pausing to soak in the atmosphere or just sit quietly in a forest, enjoying the sound of birds chirping and wind rustling through the leaves.”

As Watch Dogs: Legion (available already) has already been confirmed to run on the next-generation Xbox consoles with ray-tracing,  the other upcoming game that owners of the mentioned new consoles should look forward to is the much-delayed Cyberpunk 2077 which will be enhanced on new technology.  Sure the game looks great already on the aging Xbox One but it will look and flow even better on Xbox Series X and Xbox Series X. As for the delay, the video below has key details about Cyberpunk 2077 that will give you insight as to why it was delayed in the first place. The game is set for a December 10, 2020 release.

In ending this, here are more gaming-related videos for your viewing pleasure. Before proceeding, I want to thank all of you and the others who read my many previous Xbox-related articles leading up to the launch of Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S. I can confirm that many of you readers helped my website achieve big milestones with regards to online hits (page views). This past October, this website reached more than 29,000 hits worldwide and its lifetime hits (since January 4, 2019) is slowly reaching 250,000 hits worldwide. Once again, I thank you for your viewership and come back here soon for more Xbox-related updates and other geek stuff!

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

For more Xbox-related stuff, check out the Xbox Series Philippines Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/XboxOnePH

Looking good on the way to Xbox Series consoles launch, Part 5

The past few weeks, I’ve been discussing the launch games lineup and future games for Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X, the significance of backward compatibility the new consoles have and the tremendous impact of the Xbox-Bethesda deal on the games industry as a whole.

Today, I saw Zalker 87’s YouTube video focused on the fact that Team Xbox hired several game developers from Sony to beef up the growing roster of very experienced game makers in The Initiative, the one Xbox Games Studios team that Microsoft established in 2018 to create great, big-budget games for the Xbox ecosystem. To say the least, the future for Xbox fans and gamers in general is looking very promising, and the fun will start with the launch of Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X on November 10, 2020. Watch the video below…

A lot really has been going on at the side of Team Xbox. Apart from the many developments that resulted from the Xbox-Bethesda deal, Microsoft continues to pour in more funds into the many game projects under production from the many game studios under the Xbox Game Studios umbrella, and hire more people to work on their projects. Clearly Obsidian Entertainment, Ninja Theory, inXile, The Coalition, 343 Industries, Playground Games, Turn 10 and other 1st party studios of Team Xbox are all busy making their respective games right now!

To put things in perspective, Sony and its first-party PlayStation teams have a solid track record of producing high-quality, fun-loaded, story driven 3rd person action-adventure games which went on to receive huge acclaim from the game critics and sold a lot. Such games are what are sorely lacking on the side of Team Xbox and it only made sense for Microsoft to use its massive resources to hire the great game makers from Sony’s 1st party studios and put them in The Initiative.

The logo of the all-star team The Initiative.

More on The Initiative, the studio recently hired more talents from Sony’s acclaimed studio Naughty Dog: Lee Davis who worked previously as the head of melee animation and Lauren Garcia who was the character shading technical director. Under The Initiative, Davis is the lead gameplay animator while Garcia is the senior shading technologies executive. The two former Naughty Dog experts were involved in the production of Sony’s The Last of Us: Part 2. In a Twitter post, Garcia expressed happiness about joining The Initiative calling it an incredible team. He thanked Xbox chief Phil Spencer as well.

Before hiring the two former Naughty Dog experts, Microsoft also hired Christian Cantamessa whose best known work was writing (as lead writer) Red Dead Redemption for Rockstar Games, Brian Westergaard (the lead producer on God of War), Remi Lacoste (director of Marvel’s Avengers and Shadow of The Tomb Raider), Christine Thompson (the lead writer for Destiny 2) plus many others which The Initiative studio head Darrell Gallagher confirmed.

As you can see, The Initiative is literally an all-star team of very experienced and high achieving game makers who were previously involved in blockbuster games as well as other ambitious projects. Their first project still has not been revealed so far, although it has been alleged that it could be related to the Perfect Dark franchise which Microsoft owns. Whatever story concept it will have, whatever game design it will come with (note: I personally expect a 3rd person action-adventure in design with a cinematic feel and highly advanced animation for immersion) and whatever new characters it will introduce, you can bet that The Initiative’s expected first game will catch a lot of attention once Team Xbox makes the official unveiling of it. When and where? We don’t know and only Phil Spencer knows.

Ultimately, The Initiative is contributing to Xbox Game Studio’s upcoming wave of high-quality, 1st party video games that will be released for each of the next five years through the Xbox ecosystem (targeting users of Xbox Series S, Xbox Series X, Windows 10 PC and mobile phones supported by Project xCloud). In other words, Sony and its PlayStation division have serious competition coming.

In ending this, posted below are assorted gaming-related videos for your learning and excitement for the next-generation! Do not forget that Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X will launch on November 10, 2020!

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

For more Xbox-related stuff, check out the Xbox Series Philippines Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/XboxOnePH

Looking good on the way to Xbox Series consoles launch, Part 4

Hey Xbox fans and gamers! Have you been following the recent updates leading to the inevitable launch of the Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X? Let’s start first with these two videos from Colteastwood! Watch, learn and enjoy these because the heavy hitters (hot exclusive games) for the Xbox ecosystem are coming out after the launch of the two Xbox Series consoles!

The launch games lineup for November 10, 2020, which includes cross-generation games that will be optimized for the new consoles, don’t look that red hot but rest assured, the excitement will only begin that day and will only get even better starting 2021. Speaking of 2021 games, check out my article about the Xbox-exclusive The Gunk.

What are the launch games for Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X? Here’s the list:

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla (Smart Delivery)

Borderlands 3 (Smart Delivery)

Bright Memory 1.0 

Cuisine Royale (Smart Delivery)

Dead by Daylight (Xbox Game Pass + Smart Delivery)

Devil May Cry 5: Special Edition 

DIRT 5 (Smart Delivery)

Enlisted 

Evergate

The Falconeer (Smart Delivery)

Fortnite 

Forza Horizon 4 (Xbox Game Pass + Smart Delivery)

Gears 5 (Xbox Game Pass + Smart Delivery)

Gears Tactics (Xbox Game Pass + Smart Delivery)

Grounded (Xbox Game Pass + Smart Delivery)

King Oddball (Smart Delivery)

Maneater (Smart Delivery)

Manifold Garden (Smart Delivery)

NBA 2K21

Observer: System Redux

Ori and the Will of the Wisps (Xbox Game Pass + Smart Delivery)

Planet Coaster (Smart Delivery)

Sea of Thieves (Xbox Game Pass + Smart Delivery)

Tetris Effect: Connected (Xbox Game Pass + Smart Delivery)

The Touryst (Xbox Game Pass + Smart Delivery)

War Thunder (Smart Delivery)

Warhammer: Chaosbane Slayer Edition 

Watch Dogs: Legion (Smart Delivery)

WRC 9 FIA World Rally Championship (Smart Delivery)

Yakuza: Like a Dragon (Smart Delivery)

Yes, Your Grace (Smart Delivery)

With a great mix of 1st party exclusive games, new intellectual properties (IPs) and 3rd party games that cover vast genres and types of games, there will always be something new and fun for gamers who use Xbox consoles and Windows 10 PC. Even gamers who have not yet subscribed to Xbox Game Pass (XGP) won’t be left out.

Remember years ago when PlayStation fanboys criticized Xbox for the lack of exclusives and lack of great games? That is all over and the huge amount of games produced by Team Xbox’s 1st party game studios (including the game studios of Bethesda) will be released once completed…and the beauty of it is that the wait for the hot exclusive games won’t take too long. As reported by Colteastwood in the above videos, Xbox fans can expect exclusives like Avowed and The Outer Worlds 2 from Obsidian Entertainment, the next Doom from id Software, Forza Horizon Festivals from Playground Games, and the Perfect Dark-related 3rd-person action-stealth game from The Initiative. These are just a few of the upcoming heavy hitters coming to Xbox and Windows 10 gamers. As Colteastwood confirmed, Xbox Game Studios are currently producing at least forty games.

Going back to the November 10, 2020 launch, the early batch of games for Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X are not satisfying enough, there is backward compatibility on the new consoles that will not only ensure you get to play games from past Xbox console generations, you will get to play them with visual enhancements (example: improved frame rates reaching up to 60FPS) and much reduced loading times.

In an Xbox.com article dated October 13, 2020, Compatibility Program Lead Peggy Lo confirmed their team’s respect for fans’ gaming legacy. She stated: We believe your favorite games and franchises, your progression and achievements, your Xbox One gaming accessories and the friendships and communities you create through gaming should all move with you across generations. We also fundamentally believe that not only should you be able to play all of your games from the past without needing to purchase them again, but they should also look, feel and play better on the next generation of Xbox consoles.

And then there are the hot details Xbox fans can expect regarding backward compatibility on the new consoles. Here’s an excerpt:

Games play best on Xbox Series X and Series S

Backward compatible games run natively on the Xbox Series X and S, running with the full power of the CPU, GPU and SSD. No boost mode, no downclocking, the full power of the consoles for each and every backward compatible game. This means that all titles run at the peak performance that they were originally designed for, with significantly higher performance than their original launch platform, resulting in higher and more steady framerates and rendering at their maximum resolution and visual quality. Backward compatible titles also benefit from significant reductions in load times due to the massive leap in performance from our custom NVME SSD at the heart of the Xbox Velocity Architecture.

Auto HDR for everyone

Modern games often implement high dynamic range (HDR) to improve overall visual quality. HDR allows a game to render a much larger range of brightness values and colors. This gives an extra sense of richness and depth to the image when compared to a standard dynamic range (SDR) image. For example, the light from a flashlight looks much brighter and red flowers look much more vibrant.

However, thousands of Xbox games shipped before HDR was first introduced with Xbox One S, and even for some Xbox One games, developers simply didn’t have the development resources or time to implement HDR. With Xbox Series X and Series S we are introducing a new feature named Auto HDR. Auto HDR automatically adds HDR enhancements to games which only shipped with SDR. Auto HDR enhances the visual quality of an SDR game without changing the original artistic intent of the game. Auto HDR is implemented by the system so developers don’t have to do any work to take advantage of this feature. Also, since Auto HDR is enabled by the console’s hardware, there is absolutely no performance cost to the CPU, GPU or memory and there is no additional latency added ensuring you receive the ultimate gaming experience.

If you want to play your legacy Xbox games with a much higher frame rate for the best experience, such improvements are also confirmed as part of the backward compatibility feature on the new consoles. Check out the details below:

Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S bring next-gen performance to your favorite games. Higher, steadier framerates make games feel smoother, resulting in more immersive gameplay. Many improvements are the result of the custom designed processor that allows compatible games to play and leverage the increased CPU, GPU and memory from the new consoles. In addition however, the backward compatibility team has developed new methods for effectively doubling the framerate on select titles. While not applicable for many titles due to the game’s original physics or animations, these new techniques the team has developed can push game engines to render more quickly for a buttery smooth experience beyond what the original game might have delivered due to the capabilities of the hardware.

To emphasize the above, Team Xbox showed via YouTube the 2015 game Fallout 4 running at a buttery smooth 60FPS on Xbox Series S! Watch below!

With regards to enhanced visuals via backward compatibility on the new consoles, Peggy Lo wrote: On the Xbox One, we were able to provide a curated list of titles that were enhanced for the Xbox One X via the Heutchy method. This allowed titles from Xbox 360 that rendered at 720p and original Xbox games that ran at 360p to play at 4K on Xbox One X, well beyond the capabilities of their original platform. The Heutchy method continues to be used to bring a variety of titles to 1440p on Xbox Series S and 4K on Xbox Series X.

Improved texture filtering is also coming to backward compatible titles on both Xbox Series X and Series S. On Xbox One X, a portion of the catalog benefited from increased anisotropic filtering, improving image quality of games. On Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S, 16x anisotropic filtering has been enabled for nearly all backward compatible titles so you can experience the very best visuals the games have to offer.

With Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X, the future of next-generation gaming is very bright and promising, even more exciting than what Sony is offering with PlayStation 5 (PS5). Supporting the excitement for the Xbox ecosystem is Team Xbox’s very powerful bridge to the past (legacy gaming) with backward compatibility that also enhances the old games when played on the new consoles.

Peggy Lo further wrote: The backward compatibility team has been working hard to make all the games you love and remember available to you on Xbox Series X and Series S. Playing the games will be just as easy and magical as it’s always been. Simply insert your favorite backward compatible Xbox One, Xbox 360 or original Xbox disc into your Xbox Series X, install the game, and you’ll be ready to play. Your digital library will instantly appear and ready for download on the console when you sign in. If you’ve already installed your games to an external drive, you can bring that with you to the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S. This all happens with no additional cost to you. And, with cloud saves, you’ll jump right back in where you left off.  For those of you still enjoying Xbox 360, cloud saves will soon be free to all Xbox 360 users, making transferring your favorite games to Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S even easier.

In ending this, posted below are gaming-related videos for your learning and excitement for the next-generation!

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

For more Xbox-related stuff, check out the Xbox Series Philippines Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/XboxOnePH

Looking good on the way to Xbox Series consoles launch, Part 2

A little over a month from today, Microsoft will be launching through its varied retail partners worldwide their next-generation consoles Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S. The big day is November 10, 2020 and already a lot of consumers have already ordered their own units of the mentioned next-generation consoles. Even in Japan, where Xbox traditionally failed, the initial pre-orders for Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X there have sold out! Really, things are looking good towards November 10.

Along the way are the launch games which are a big mix of titles (note: cross-generation releases are included) from the 3rd party game publishers plus some from independent game makers and Team Xbox itself.

Have you ordered an Xbox Series X or an Xbox Series S unit already?

On launch day, prospective Xbox Series console owners can choose Dirt 5 if they crave for high-fidelity, action-packed racing. With Assassin’s Creed Valhalla from Ubisoft, they can have the stealth action experience complete with open-world exploration. If it’s role-playing and action they want with a Japanese underworld setting, then Yakuza: Like a Dragon will be there. NBA 2K21 will be the basketball video game of choice. For real-time strategy set in the Gears of War universe, Gears Tactics is the definitive gaming experience waiting to be discovered. Last but not least, The Falconeer will offer gamers the flight and shooting experiences that can entertain them a lot.

Before the November 10, 2020 Xbox Series consoles launch, Ubisoft will release its newest entry in the Watch Dogs open-world game franchise titled Watch Dogs: Legion which has a futuristic London setting and the game is designed to let gamers play as multiple characters who can be recruited and engage in missions. Like its predecessors, Watch Dogs: Legion will be filled with open-world missions and hacking will be a major gameplay feature. This game will launch for current generation consoles on October 29, 2020 but it will be available for the Xbox Series consoles on launch day. Like other cross-gen, multiplatform games, expect Watch Dogs: Legion to look and play better on Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X (read: ray-tracing plus other visual enhancements).

After November 10, 2020, there will be other games coming out such as CrossFireX, Immortals Fenix Rising, Call of the Sea, and the much-anticipated Cyberpunk 2077 to name a few.

When it comes more Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X games coming in the following years, pay close attention to what Xbox Games Marketing General Manager Aaron Greenberg wrote at Xbox.com.

From the Xbox.com article of Greenberg.

After revealing interesting statistics and achievements in the early part of his article, Greenberg stated:

It’s been a tremendous year so far, and it’s going to get even better with the launch of Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S on November 10. Across four generations and thousands of games playable this holiday, this will be the largest launch lineup in the history of gaming. We’ll be sharing even more details on every game being fully optimized this holiday for the launch of Xbox Series X|S later this month, as well as showing more gameplay from these titles, so stay tuned for more.

Between our growing Xbox Game Studios teams, the massive influx of high-quality content from our new partners at Bethesda, and many more unannounced games in development, the future has never been brighter for Xbox gamers!

Greenberg made clear that Team Xbox still have some pre-launch details and stuff to show within this current month. We don’t know yet what they will show but it will most likely add more power to the current public excitement for the upcoming Xbox Series consoles. It’s an excitement that not even the most sarcastic Xbox haters and not even the paid PlayStation propagandists can bring down.

Even though the launch games lineup for the Xbox Series consoles does not look that numerous on face value, the backward compatibility on the upcoming consoles ensures that Xbox fans (especially those who owned games through at least two generations of Xbox consoles) will be able to choose and play from the many, many video games from the original Xbox right up to the soon-to-end Xbox One. Thanks to the immense investment Team Xbox made on backward compatibility, the said feature will enhance the old generation games on Xbox Series consoles. By comparison, Sony’s PlayStation 5 (PS5) is only limited to PS4 games for backward compatibility.

And then there was Greenberg’s mention of Bethesda, the agreed acquisition of which easily rocked the gaming industry and its effects are still being felt and discussed by gamers across social media until now. The Xbox-Bethesda deal means that future games of established game franchises such as Doom, Dishonored, The Elder Scrolls, Wolfenstein and Fallout will only be released through the Xbox ecosystem which includes the Xbox consoles (specifically Xbox One and the two Xbox Series consoles) and Windows 10 PC supported by Xbox Game Pass and xCloud. In other words, future Bethesda games will NOT appear on PlayStation and Nintendo consoles.

While it is very clear that Bethesda role-playing game (RPG) franchises The Elder Scrolls and Fallout make Xbox Game Studios a major powerhouse for RPGs, the shooter franchises Doom and Wolfenstein are doing the same with regards to shooter-type games. Think about it…Microsoft can release a new Halo, a new Gears of War, a new Doom and a new Wolfenstein within a relative short period of time. Each new game from the mentioned shooter franchises is sure to sell in the millions and further establish the Xbox ecosystem as a major sector of the video game industry as we know it.

Also mentioned by Greenberg are the many unannounced games in development from Xbox Game Studios. I sure hope that means a new Perfect Dark is being made and I would love to see Obsidian Entertainment work on a sequel to The Outer Worlds after they are done with making Avowed. Oh yes, Xbox game studio inXile (Wasteland 3) is working on new games.

As you can see here, there is a whole lot of games and fun experiences to look forward to in the years to come only on the Xbox ecosystem. Compared to what happened in 2013, the pre-launch momentum for Team Xbox is strongly positive and anticipation for the next-generation Xbox consoles is undeniably strong. Once the first batch of the expected 1st party Xbox games come out in the next few years, you will really see Microsoft becoming much more competitive with Sony and Nintendo. It’s just a matter of time and it will be exciting!

In ending this, posted below are Xbox-related videos for your learning and excitement for the next-generation!

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

For more Xbox-related stuff, check out the Xbox Series Philippines Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/XboxOnePH

My Observations: Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X

What a roller coaster ride that has been. The leaks were made and the speculating is all over. Microsoft is officially launching its next-generation game consoles Xbox Series S (economic all-digital model) and Xbox Series X (premium model) on November 10, 2020 with prices of $299 and $499 respectively! Pre-ordering of the consoles will begin on September 22, 2020.  

Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S together!

In an Xbox.com article, Xbox division chief Phil Spencer stated: On November 10, a new generation of console gaming begins. That’s when our vision becomes reality with the most performant, immersive and compatible next-generation console gaming experiences, and the freedom to play your games with your friends, anytime, anywhere.

For the newcomers reading this, the premium Xbox Series X was officially announced many months ago and it was only very recently that the budget-friendly Xbox Series S was officially announced (after the leakages, take note).

So what are the differences between the two? Posted below for your general reference are the official specs from Xbox.com

The most obvious difference starts with the GPU with the Xbox Series S having 32 lesser compute units (CUs) as well as a lower frequency per CU compared with the premium Xbox. This results the Xbox Series S also having 4 teraflops of GPU power or barely one-third of the more powerful one. The $299 Xbox also lesser GDDR6 RAM and lower bandwidth. In terms of resolution, Xbox Series X can render visuals in native 4K resolution (3840×2160) while the less powerful Xbox can do up to 1440P. Both of them, however are expected to deliver similar results when it comes to frame-rates. On storage, Xbox Series S has 512GB SSD (solid state drive) which is roughly half that of the premium console. If you enjoy watching movies on Blu-ray or 4K Blu-ray discs, or if you intend to use physical copies of video games, the Xbox Series X has a 4K Blu-ray disc drive while the cheaper Xbox has no such drive at all (note: it’s all digital).

Considering the huge $200 price difference, the two next-generation Xbox consoles will appeal to different kinds of gamers and eventually other consumers who want to improve their home entertainment (or in the case of individuals living away from their families, the personal entertainment) set-up. I can imagine gamers who enjoy playing video games using their PC monitors (at the desks inside their bedrooms or in the house study), who prefer digital downloads over physical media for their games, and looking for bargains will be attracted to Xbox Series S. Gamers who still use optic media for their games, who want to upgrade their movie viewing experience with their 4K TV at home (and start collecting movies on 4K Blu-ray disc format), who want a lot more SSD storage available, and who want the best of 4K gaming will finds Xbox Series X a preferred machine.

Gamers who started their respective Xbox legacies (with Xbox LIVE accounts) for more than one console generation should be happy to know that their old Xbox-related game collection will NOT go to waste as both Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X have been confirmed to be backward compatible with original Xbox, Xbox 360 and Xbox One titles. The beauty with Xbox backward compatibility is that the old games will not only be played, they will have visual enhancements too.

More on the Xbox Series S, the $299 tag price is indeed very enticing especially during this time of pandemic and economic uncertainty. The cheaper console, which has a surprisingly small size compared with other game consoles, is literally a very powerful beast performance wise and (like the premium Xbox) it also has ray-tracing.

Microsoft’s Head of Platform Engineering and Hardware Liz Hamren confirmed the following details: Xbox Series S delivers the same next generation speed and performance that define Xbox Series X. It is similar in CPU and has the identical I/O performance as Xbox Series X, making it easier for developers to deliver the same great performance, while rendering at a lower resolution. Xbox Series S delivers 4x the processing power of an Xbox One console and supports experiences up to 120fps, more immersive and responsive gameplay with support for hardware-accelerated DirectX Raytracing and Variable Rate Shading. In addition, Xbox Series S includes 512GB of custom SSD storage and is powered by the Xbox Velocity Architecture, delivering more than 40x the I/O bandwidth of an Xbox One resulting in faster loading times, steadier frame rates and Quick Resume for multiple titles.

You’ll also experience the same great audio on Xbox Series S that you will on Xbox Series X with Spatial Sound, including support for Dolby Atmos. What’s more, support for Dolby Vision via streaming media apps like Disney+, Vudu and Netflix will be available across Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X at launch, and Dolby Vision support for gaming will come first to our next-gen Xbox consoles in 2021.

As of this writing, I noticed a number of gamers online expressing concern about the 512GB SSD storage on the Xbox Series S. On face value, 512GB looks insufficient considering the sizes of video games and DLC (downloadable content) today. Like the premium console, the SSD storage of Xbox Series S can be upgraded by means of using the proprietary Xbox Storage Expansion Card which will be a very expensive affair for consumers and the sad thing is that traditional SSDs cannot be used.

When it comes to digital services and subscriptions, Microsoft is really going all-out with brand new offerings via the Xbox All Access program which will start in twelve nations. Take note that the wildly popular Xbox Game Pass is included!

Xbox Prdouct Marketing General Manager Jeff Gattis announced the following details: Whether you’re upgrading to the newest consoles or joining the Xbox family for the first time, with Xbox All Access, you can get everything you need to play — an Xbox Series X or Xbox Series S and 24 months of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate — from $24.99 a month for 24 months with no upfront cost. We’re also excited to bring Xbox All Access to more fans around the world this holiday, and to offer existing Xbox All Access members more flexibility in their upgrade option.

With Xbox All Access you not only get the latest consoles, but also an instant library of over 100 high-quality games for console, PC, and Android mobile devices (Beta).  Plus, you get all new Xbox Game Studios titles the same day they release, including Halo Infinite. What’s more, starting this holiday Xbox Game Pass Ultimate and Xbox Game Pass for PC members get an EA Play membership at no additional cost.

And then there is EA Play!

As if that was not good enough, there is also Dolby Vision for Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S! Read the details at Dolby.com

With Xbox Series X at $499 and Xbox Series S at $299 backed with very enticing online offerings and features that promise strong value for customers, it is clear that Microsoft is looking strong with launching the two next-generation consoles even though Halo Infinite has been delayed beyond launch. Times like this, I wish that the Xbox-exclusive The Gunk was launch title.

Without Halo Infinite as the showcase of the next-generation launch, Microsoft will have to rely on 3rd-party video games (both cross-generation and next-generation that will be released along with or shortly after the new consoles’ launch) looking and playing great on the next-generation Xbox consoles to convince gamers to make the technological jump forward early. It’s already confirmed that Ubisoft’s much-awaited Assassin’s Creed Valhalla will not only run at 60FPS on Xbox Series X but also in 4K resolution! Considering the open-world design of the said game, playing it the “4K60” way should be mind-blowing to gamers.

It is also clear is that, with the latest Xbox development, Sony has challenges to overcome when it comes to announcing the prices and offerings related to launching its two PlayStation 5 (PS5) consoles – one with a disc drive and the other without. $299 is a very hard launch price for Sony to match with the drive-less PS5, and it should be noted that PS5’s backward compatibility is limited to PS4 games (in other words, Mark Cerny and his team failed to find ways to make PS1-PS2-PS3 game discs play on their upcoming console). PS5 games look interesting but none of them convinced me to buy Sony’s new console. My choice is Xbox Series X because I know the exclusive games coming out in the next two years will be worth the wait plus I love the Gears of War, Halo and Forza Motorsport franchise of games. I also want the premium Xbox for my Blu-ray movie collection and, eventually, the start of a new collection of movies in 4K Blu-ray discs.

In ending this piece, I recommend you watch the videos from Dealer Gaming, Colteastwood and Digital Foundry.

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