When you write for a website like The Frak, a site that doesn’t require its writers to “hold their tongue” or “pull punches” when talking about developers, consoles, publishers or companies, you’re free to speak as openly as you want about topics that … well … frankly, piss you off. This is why when we write reviews, we’re being honest and giving you our real opinion, not an opinion that is softened to keep “relationships.” Could this cost us business or sponsors in the future, possibly, but let’s be honest, you want this, you want a site that gives you the real story, not a puff piece on why you should ignore something’s faults and buy it anyway.
With that being said, I’m not going to pull punches, but I’m also NOT out to hurt Microsoft or trash the Xbox One X, I’m just a gamer, who like you, wants quality from companies who usually deliver. Over the weekend, Microsoft announced the price tag of the Xbox One X and that it was now available for pre-order from retailers like GameStop, Amazon and Best Buy. The gist of the announcement? You can now drop $500 and pre-order the most expensive console on the market, that has the weakest lineup this fall, with the exception of maybe one game.
Microsoft has already announced the delay of Crackdown 3 (check out the coverage from GameZone), so their big system seller is off the table, leaving us with just three 1st party titles to sell the system, that being, CupHead, Forza 7 and Super Lucky’s Tale. The rest are from 3rd party companies like Shadow of War, Call of Duty, and Star Wars Battlefront 2, all of which are also on the PS4 and thus, the PS4 Pro. To make matters even worse, those exclusives by Microsoft can also be purchased via Xbox Anywhere, meaning you can play them on your PC, also in 4K, if your system supports it.
All in all, unless you just have to have you Forza 7 in 4K, there’s really no reason to buy an Xbox One X unless of course, you want to play PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (aka PUBG). Which I might add, recently had its final version delayed, and while the Xbox Version hasn’t been delayed yet, there’s a high probability that it will before the One X is released. Assuming it’s not delayed, this may be the only title that might push some people to buy the One X, but keep in mind, everything released for the One X, also plays on the One S, which also features HDR, just no 4K. That’s also assuming you have a 4K TV, if you don’t, there’s really no reason to buy an Xbox One X, when the S model is just as useful unless you can clearly see the benefits of framerates improvements from the One X’s added horsepower. I’m not going to get into PUBG and its massive fan base, but it’s true, it’s a behemoth on PC, having sold over 7 million copies while still in early access. But even the “exclusivity” that MS is boasting about, may not be as exclusive or “airtight” as previously thought. It’s entirely possible that PUBG is merely a timed-exclusive, much like Rise of the Tomb Raider was last year. BlueHole Studios, the developer of PUBG, has to know that selling 7 million copies, on PC alone, is a big deal and by limiting their game to just the Xbox One, despite being paid money by Microsoft, they’d be losing out on potentially millions, way more than any amount Microsoft would throw their way.
So what does Microsoft have in its lineup of launch games for the One X? Aside from the previously mentioned first and third-party titles, there are more third-party titles like Middle-Earth Shadow of War and Assassins Creed Origins. But it’s other big, first-party stuff are coming next year, that being State of Decay 2, Sea of Thieves and yes, Crackdown 3. What worse, that the games that will run in 4K will be very small, at least at first, consisting of only Forza 7, Middle Earth Shadow of War, Assassin’s Creed, the rest are coming next year there will be older games that will be updated, for free, to 4K. Those games are Gear of War 4, Forza Horizon 3, Killer Instinct, Halo Wars 2 and MineCraft all of which can be played on PC in 4K now. According to Major Nelson, there are over 100 other titles that will be updated to “Xbox One X Enhanced Titles.” You can see a full list here. One thing to remember though, that list says “enhanced” and does NOT mean that all of those games will run in 4K. They will be improved to take advantage of the new hardware, meaning faster load times, improved frame rates, pretty good stuff overall, so just don’t be pissed off when a game on that list isn’t running in 4K.
I’d like to point out something, you can polish a turd all you want, but in the end, it’s still a turd. Halo 5 comes to mind (you read my scathing review here *Note: features harsh language*). As I’ve so eloquently pointed out in that link, Halo 5 on the Xbox One S, looks like shit. Simply upscaling those same textures, just improves how clear that shit is, it doesn’t make shit, into diamonds. The Xbox One X is powerful, not magical. There’s no tiny wizard under the hood who’s going to make all those shitty games look amazing simply because there’s more power pushing those pixels. So, while some games may play a little smoother, games like Halo 5 or Quantum Break, are not going to look next gen.
Ok, so let’s wrap this up, should you buy or pre-order and Xbox One X? The first question you need to ask yourself is, do you have a 4K TV? If the answer is no, then no, don’t need a One X. The One S has improved hardware, 4K video output (movies) and supports HDR Your games will look better on the One S than the OG One and everything on the One X has to run on the One S. Question number two, do we need more questions? I say that because, while Microsoft says the One X’s hardware will make older games run better, that’s not really their sales pitch. You’re not paying $500 to play older games, slightly better. You’re paying $500 to play new games in 4K, period. If you don’t have a 4K TV (and a good 4K TV) and $500, there is no reason you should by a One X. If you have a decent PC or even a gaming rig, you can play almost all of the big games on the One X from third party games to even Microsoft’s exclusives, such as Forza 7, Sea of Thieves, Crackdown 3, State of Decay 2, Gear of War 4 and more are either available now or will upon release on the PC and will support 4K as well.
Simply put, until you have a 4K TV and Microsoft has the killer app(s) that shows off the horsepower of the One X and keeps those killer apps exclusive to the One X (i.e. not bringing it to PC until a few months or a year later), then gamers really don’t have a reason to buy a One X. For $500, you can buy a PS4 Pro, for $100 less and get a game and pocket $30 or more and get 4K gaming and or better performance. On top of that, all the must-have games for third-party studios, have some type of exclusive content only for Sony’s PS4, like Red Dead 2, Destiny 2 and Call of Duty WWII. Plus, let’s not forget Sony’s 1st party exclusives, like The Last of Us 2, God of War and Days Gone, just to name a few. Those are titles you can’t get on PC or anywhere else, that’s proper branding and exclusives