Well, the day is finally here. You survived the summer, waiting. First there was no news, then there were rumors about a second console launching with the Xbox Series X. After that we had a games showcase, that was either a smash-hit or you made Halo: Infinite memes. Finally, we hit the home stretch. The dates released, September 22nd rolled around, and you survived the horrific pre-order process.
Now, you were wondering if your pre-order would get cancelled. After all, there were others that ordered from Amazon, Walmart, GameStop, and other retailers that got cancelled. Every day was a sweat, you checked that order more than you thought was humanly possible. Until…. it shipped. So now you’re sitting waiting and wondering, “well what am I actually gonna do with this thing?”. Well here’s what the Xbox Series X/S can do.
Xbox Series S Guide
The Xbox Series S is the less powerful, digital, brother of the Series X. For those of you out there that just want something to play the games, and look reasonably good while doing it, this is the machine for you. It’s digital only, so you won’t be able to pop in that copy of Gears 5. This was the machine basically built for Xbox Game Pass. So that tradeoff comes with a $200 price difference. You want the power and a disc drive? Go with the Series X.
The big thing that separates the Series S and X besides the power is the storage capacity. The system has a storage capacity of 512GB, but you won’t be able to use all of that when the system comes out. You’ll be left with about 364GB worth of space when it’s all said and done. So if games like Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War are as unoptimized as it’s brother Modern Warfare, and file sizes get too large, you could be in for a storage crunch.
So you’ll either have to be judicious about saving space, or you’re going to need to upgrade the storage capacity of the console. Microsoft and other partners have already come out with ancillary storage solutions. There’s the SeaGate Expansion Card for Xbox Series X/S that is quite pricy but effectively mimics the hard drive inside the system. It’ll put you back a bit, but you shouldn’t need to get too many of them.
The Built-In Solution For Storage Limits
However, if you don’t want to immediately make your Series S cost the same as a Series X with the SeaGate card, Microsoft has a built-in solution. Because of Microsoft Intelligent Delivery, you can pick and choose what portions of a game to download. So if you want to only download the English audio files and just the multiplayer for Black Ops Cold War, that’s now possible on Xbox.
So don’t fret too much about the storage capacity if you’re buying a Series S.
Xbox Series X Guide
So you plunked down the $500 for the big daddy. The Xbox Series X. Well, you’re going to be in for a hell of a gaming experience. Just make sure you know what you’re getting in for with a 4K setup.
The Idiot’s Guide To 4K And HDMI 2.1 (Because I’m An Idiot)
So you bought the console, but you’re not quite sure what you need to fully maximize the console’s power. Let’s go through it together.
To start off the bare basic for getting the most out of your Series X is having a 4K TV. Now this term for “4K TV” is pretty vague. Not every 4K TV is going to be the same. The Series X is basically going to quadruple what you can do with an Xbox One X at the moment. So if you’ve been gaming with that machine, it’ll be sufficient, but not fully maximizing the power. The absolute bare minimum is a TV with an HDMI 2.1 output. The Series X comes with an HDMI 2.1 cable in the box, so you just need the TV!
Depending on your TV brand, you might not have HDMI 2.1 or you very well could. If you bought your TV in the last year, brands like LG have it on all their OLED TV’s. Sony doesn’t have it on any of their models. Samsung only offered it on their most premium of models. With people buying these consoles and looking for HDMI 2.1, you’re going to see more and more TV makers start to use it as industry standard.
For 120 HZ or 8K gaming, you’ll need the HDMI 2.1 on your TV. But for everyone else that doesn’t have that, don’t worry, your console will still look and play fantastic on your current setup. And 8K gaming is still in it’s infancy, so unless you’re willing to drop some serious cash, stick with 4K.
Backwards Compatibility Is King
So, while the launch of the new Xbox might be super exciting. It’s a bit dampened by the fact that the flagship launch title for the console, Halo: Infinite was delayed. At the launch, you’re basically stuck with current gen and older games before the swing of things kicks in later in November with the launch of games like Black Ops Cold War and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla.
Luckily, we have Xbox Game Pass, and older Xbox consoles to play around with. Yes, your Xbox Series S/X will be able to play older games. For the Series S, it’ll be limited to games that you download. But for Series X players, you’ll be able to pop in Black on the original Xbox or The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and play it perfectly.
Xbox One X games were capped at 30 FPS. Now the Series X can upconvert those games to 60 FPS and make them look even better. This feature is only available for certain games according to Microsoft, so we’ll have to see which ones they announce as having the feature.
It won’t be able to play every single Xbox 360 or OG Xbox game, so you’ll have to check with Microsoft on exactly which games are playable on the Series X. It’s quite a sizeable list however, and they’ll look as good as ever on the new console.
The Controller On Series X
The console comes with a new controller, as pictured above. But if you just cannot play without your trusty Xbox One Elite controller, that will work on the Series X/S. Every peripheral for the Xbox One works perfectly on the Xbox Series X/S. But the new controller does make some improvements on an already great controller. The new controller has a share button for those out there that want to show off that gameplay clip they just made. The triggers have a new texture to them. Finally, the D-Pad is much improved and is probably the best one that Microsoft has put on a controller ever.
So knowing you won’t need to buy a controller and you’re getting a great one out of the box, is a plus.
The Apps On Xbox Series X/S
Finally, we’ll get to the apps that you can use on the system. Out of the box, you’ll be able to use apps from a wide variety of streaming and entertainment companies. Here’s the list available at launch. This isn’t the complete list available from Microsoft and they’re committed to getting every app that’s available on Xbox One, to the Series X/S.
- Apple TV
- HBO Max
- YouTube TV
- Amazon Prime Video
- NBC Peacock
- Sky Go
- Now TV
- Sky Ticket
Now that’s considerably more than are available on the PlayStation 5 when it launches on Thursday, November 12th. HBO Max and Prime Video will not be available at launch for the PS5. So those fans of The Boys will have to either wait or get an Xbox.
Console Availability At Launch
If you didn’t get your hands on a system during the pre-order period, your options are still out there. You can brave the online providers like Best Buy or others, and hope to beat out the bots. I would not recommend feeding the scalpers, because if you buy a console and charge someone over the price of admission, you’re scum. For in-store purchasers, it depends on the retailer. Walmart will be only online for the next-gen consoles for the time being. Most will have in-store pickup for your order, which is nice to save time on the shipping.
GameStop is one of the ones that will have consoles available in-stores, but you’re going to have to call ahead to see how many they’ll have available before you camp out.
Best-Buy has said that their current stock of the Xbox Series X/S goes on sale at 12:00PM eastern time on Tuesday.
The Wait For Next-Gen Is Over
So if you’re like me, you’re waiting very patiently for your mail or local UPS truck to come around on Tuesday, because that just means the wait for next-gen consoles is finally over. The Xbox Series X/S is an incredibly exciting machine that will forever change the look and feel of console gaming. I’m excited to play just as much as you are.
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