Xbox Series X: A Comprehensive Review

Jose Carlos Serrano

The new generation of consoles are out, which means Microsoft has come out with their new flagship console: the Xbox Series X. I myself was fortunate enough to get my hands on the Series X which Microsoft brands as the “World’s Most Powerful Console”. Let’s see if it lives up to its grand title.

The Xbox website explains how the console is capable of true 4K gaming. For those who don’t know what that is, it’s a huge graphical upgrade over the 1080P HD resolution that many gamers currently use. 4K gives us about four times more pixels on the screen than the 1080P HD resolution, meaning a higher graphical fidelity and improved visuals across the board. The Series X is also capable of outputting up to 120 frames per second, which means that we will experience extremely smooth gameplay as the screen refreshes its picture 120 times per second. The Xbox Series X’s technological specifications include an 8-core 3.8GHz CPU with 12 teraflops of  GPU power and 16GB of RAM, 20% more powerful than Sony’s PlayStation 5.

A difference you will see when you get the Series X is actually the controller: the D-Pad. The D-Pad, taking inspiration from the Xbox Elite Series 2 controller, is no longer a cross-shape. It is now more of a disc-shaped pad. The controller itself has a textured backside as well as the  triggers which prevent your hand from slipping off when playing games. 

Another new addition is the share button on the controller. Clicking the button once will take a screenshot of the game you are playing. Holding it down will record the past 30 seconds of the game you are playing. 

As for the appearance of the controller, the traditional Xbox black controller now has a complete matte finish instead of gloss. The triggers and bumpers on the Series X controller are now a matte black compared to the Xbox One’s gloss. 


My Xbox Series X Controller


One capability that gives the Xbox Series X an edge over the competition, such as Sony’s Playstation 5, is something called “backwards compatibility.” This feature allows the Series X to play games from all generations of Xbox, including all games from the Xbox One, many from Xbox 360 generation, and the original Xbox console from 2001. It should be noted, however, that Kinect exclusive games are not supported by the Series X as a result of the Kinect’s discontinuation in 2017. Still, the old games that do run on the Series X benefit from improved resolution, high dynamic range, increased frame rate and — perhaps most importantly — a huge reduction in loading screen times. 

Another notable feature we are seeing is the introduction of “Quick Resume,” a feature that allows you to switch between a number of different games without having to wait for loading screens. If a player were to click on a game of Assassin’s Creed, then click on Gears Of War per say, the Assassin’s Creed game would be put in idle mode while you’re playing Gears of War. You can simultaneously switch between these games with no loading screens allowing you to start off right where you ended. The “Quick Resume” feature can function with about 4-5 games at a time. 

Perhaps one of the best selling points of Microsoft’s brand new console is the introduction of ray-tracing into the Xbox ecosystem. Ray-tracing, a relatively new technological addition to the gaming industry, mimics real-world lighting and reflections. There are a number of enhancements that have been brought to games on the Series X that have now been enabled with ray-tracing capabilities. One of the most anticipated games with these improvements being none other than the famous Minecraft. Minecraft is seeing a huge graphical upgrade with these improvements all thanks to the new Xbox Series X. The old Xbox One family of consoles does not have the graphical capabilities to run ray-tracing on these games. 

Minecraft with Ray-Tracing Image Credit due to Nvidia


Unfortunately, Halo Infinite, another popular game that would be a big reason why people would buy the Series X, was delayed because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Despite this, we can still see the benefits of the new hardware on backward compatible games; many of which being exclusively optimized for the new family of consoles. We will see higher resolutions maintained in games as well as a much steadier frame rate. I decided to test out a few games I had to see how they were enhanced on the Series X.


The Xbox Series X: Image Credit to Microsoft


Halo: The Master Chief Collection

Halo: The Master Chief Collection — known by many as just “Halo McC” — is an Xbox-exclusive game that contains all previous generation Halo games with their own graphical improvements. The games featured in the collection are Halo Combat Evolved (2001), Halo 2 (2004), Halo 3 (2007), Halo 3 ODST (2009), Halo Reach (2010), and Halo 4 (2012). On Series X, the games run up to 120 frames per second as well as an improved frame rate during split-screen gameplay as well as maintaining a 4K resolution. For loading times for the game, the Xbox One took about 30-40 seconds to load in while the Series X booted me in the game in about 6-8 seconds. 

Image credit to 343 Industries

Playing these games, you can really feel the changes in the system, Senior Producer Matt Houl, discussing the improvements, highlights that “[Players] will be able to experience up to 120 fps at 4K on Xbox Series X.”. I myself hopped into a multiplayer game of Halo 3 and was simply blown away by what I experienced. For a game that was made in 2007, it looked very impressive. Crisper shadows, detailed lighting effects, improved frame rates and other improvements really made me feel immersed in the game.


Me in a match of Team Slayer on Halo 3 part of the Master Chief Collection on Xbox Series X.


Forza Horizon 4:

Another Xbox-exclusive game, part of the Forza Horizon series–  Forza Horizon 4 — takes racing-fans straight to the heart of England. It looks better than ever with the graphical improvements provided by the new hardware. Just like the Master Chief Collection, Horizon 4 is specifically optimized for the next generation of consoles. By allowing 4K resolution at 60 fps, we can experience beautiful visuals at a high frame rate which was never possible on the previous generation of hardware. Loading times on the Xbox One were about 50-60 seconds, and on the Series X, it was about 10-15 seconds.

The Xbox Series X at 4K and 60 fps and the previous-gen Xbox One X running at 1080P and 60 frames per second in Performance Mode. Note the sharper image quality on the Xbox Series X compared to the Xbox One X. Image Credit: Digital Foundry

Alongside this improved graphical fidelity and improved performance, there are also other improvements such as draw distance which allows us to see objects in the distance much clearer than before. I booted up Forza Horizon 4 on my new Series X and decided to give the game a spin. Coming from playing on the original Xbox One from 2013, I could definitely see the difference. Sharper images, improved vehicle modeling, a higher resolution, and more really made England feel vivid and alive. 

Me driving around the vivid world of England in Forza Horizon 4 on

Xbox Series X.

Me driving around the vivid world of England in Forza Horizon 4 on Xbox Series X.


Fallout 4:

The award-winning post-apocalyptic action-role playing game, Fallout 4 by the company Bethesda, sees a massive improvement on the new hardware. Microsoft bought Bethesda and its parent company Zeni-Max on September 21 and with the acquisition added games such as Fallout, The Elder Scrolls, Doom, and many more. On the Xbox Series X, Fallout 4 runs at a resolution of 4K and 60 frames per second. Previous generations of consoles ran the game at 4K and at 30 frames per second. We are seeing the frames per second being doubled between these two generations. Aside from just the frame rate improvement, we are also seeing auto high dynamic range improvements as well as enhanced visuals. Whereas the game loaded on the Xbox One in about 45-50 seconds when clicking to a saved game file, the time was dramatically reduced to about 8-9 seconds on Series X. 

The Power Armor found in Fallout 4. An iconic staple of the series since
it debuted in 1997. The franchise was rebooted to its modern 3-D action
role-playing style that we see today with the introduction of Fallout 3
in 2008 released 10 years after the last game in the series, Fallout 2 in 1998. Photo Credit to IGN

Fallout 4 was already one of the best games to come out with an amazing story, combat mechanics, graphics, questlines to follow, and so much more. With these new enhancements, the world of Fallout 4 is brought to life as these hardware limitations that were found on previous-gen consoles are no longer present. When I went into the intriguing and expansive world of Fallout 4 on the Series X, I really saw the power and capabilities of the new generation of hardware. I donned the iconic power armor in the game and explored the wasteland of Fallout 4’s dystopian version of a post-apocalyptic Massachusetts. Visuals were crisper, render distance was improved and the big difference for me was the  double in the frames per second. Everything was so much more life-like and more responsive which really added to the immersion you feel when playing.

Me in the Power Armor found in Fallout 4 on Xbox Series X


What Could Be Changed:

Despite the many improvements, there are some things that could be changed further on this new console. One issue is that all Xbox controllers still rely on batteries out of the box. You have the option to separately buy a battery pack so you can simply charge the controller, but other companies, such as Sony with the PS5, have their dualsense controller that comes included as rechargeable. Another issue is the low number of Xbox-exclusive games that have been released with the console. Not many new exclusive games have come out with the new console when compared to other console launches such as the Nintendo Switch launch game line-up with heavy-hitters, such as Zelda Breath of the Wild or Sony’s PS5 with Spider-Man Remastered and Spider-Man Miles Morales. 



After trying out numerous games on the new Xbox Series X console, I was blown away by the performance, graphical fidelity, quality of life improvements, and so much more. Games were given a breath of fresh air with higher frame rates, 4K resolution, high dynamic range, and crisper models. The dramatic decrease in loading times gives you more time to play rather than waiting on the game to load, and the introduction of Quick Resume really brings this console to the top. If we look past some of the few flaws of the Series X, we can see that what Microsoft has done here is a masterclass in how to manufacture a console that really makes it worth switching from the previous generation of Xbox One devices. Even though the Xbox Series X didn’t release with the heavy-hitting titles we hoped for, the console breathes new life into your Xbox One games and will release with must-play Xbox exclusive titles in the future such as Halo Infinite. Alas, the Xbox controllers still rely on batteries out of the box, but the controller is comfortable to hold and represents a subtle upgrade over the old Xbox One Controller. The fact that this console can run all Xbox One games, most Xbox 360 games and Original Xbox games with improved resolution and frame rates really gives you a lot of bang for your buck. Retailing at $500 in the United States, for both serious gamers and casual players, the  Microsoft’s Xbox Series X is a must-buy.