Category Archives: Xbox

Review: Xbox One X is the Gamer’s Dream Come True

When the Xbox One (X1) was released in 2013, I did not expect much from the lower to mid-tier level hardware components. Compared to what was available on the market, the X1 was designed with a somewhat lackluster CPU and GPU. Moreover, it was equipped with a measly 8GB of RAM.

I was not disappointed though, since internal hardware in consoles had not quite kept up with higher-powered components available for PCs. Consoles were designed with a lower monetary barrier to attract customers.

Gamers who wanted to experience games with cutting-edge visual effects and higher resolution could invest in the latest and greatest hardware components for a beefy PC.

It came as a surprise then, that Project Scorpio, officially named, Xbox One X (Scorpio), is actually a powerful machine on the higher end of the spectrum. Run by an overclocked CPU, more powerful GPU, and 12GB of much faster RAM, Scorpio is indeed a worthy successor.

Quite honestly, I was skeptical when Microsoft announced that Scorpio would be able to perform at a whopping 6 TFLOPS, far surpassing the X1’s 1.31 TFLOPS. Even after Digital Foundry released their previews of Scorpio’s hardware, I took it with a grain of salt. I just had to see it for myself.

After using my Scorpio for the past three weeks, I am a believer. In fact, I am so incredibly impressed at how games look on Scorpio, I no longer see any reason to play games on my high-end PC, except when using my Oculus Rift.

Even if a multiplatform game costs less on PC (which is most often the case for older titles), I will probably opt to buy it on Xbox. Not only will the game look nearly as good on PC (in some cases, better due to HDR), but I’ll also enjoy the benefits of Xbox Live and Achievements.

Some developers have “enhanced” their titles to take full advantage of Scorpio’s horsepower. This may mean higher resolutions, more visual effects, higher or more stable FPS, and HDR. Even games that have not been given the “enhanced” treatment can look better on Scorpio.

It must be a true joy as a developer to see all of your work being fully appreciated as it was intended. Scorpio brings out the best of every game.

In addition to the visual upgrades that Scorpio offers, games generally load faster, so there’s less downtime in between levels and games. Let’s not forget that like the Xbox One S, Scorpio comes equipped with a 4K Blu-Ray player.

The console’s case itself is tiny, yet dense. It is dwarfed by my original One X. Scorpio even includes the power supply inside of the console unit. It truly is an engineering marvel.

Scorpio retails for $499, and it is worth every penny. Even if you do not have a 4K TV, games will look dramatically better when played on Scorpio.

The Xbox One X represents the fulfillment of the promise that Microsoft made when it launched the first Xbox One four years ago. It also perhaps represents a shift in priorities at Microsoft. Instead of cutting corners with hardware, it pushed the envelope.

Many, including Microsoft, have said that the Xbox One X is not a next generation console. Microsoft has actually stated that the concept of generations is perhaps even over, but for all intents and purposes, the Xbox One X is a de facto next gen Xbox.

This review was not sponsored by Microsoft in any way.

Initial Impressions: Assassin’s Creed: Origins

After playing through the first hour of Assassin’s Creed: Origins, from what I’ve seen so far, Ubisoft has made substantial changes to the familiar Assassin’s Creed gameplay, representing a deeper, more engrossing game than prior titles in the franchise.

The skill tree is reminiscent of the skill progression options in two other Ubisoft titles, Far Cry and Watch Dogs, giving the player the choice on how to develop Bayek’s abilities. Whether it is through stealth, weapons, or resiliency, players can allocate earned experience points into different characteristics and skills. What this means is Bayek isn’t a full-fledged Assassin from the outset. In fact, there is barely a hint in the first hour of gameplay that this is an Assassin’s Creed game.

Also new to the series is an actual inventory system. Bayek can equip various outfits, which are reflected visually, but he can also equip other pieces of equipment that modify his stats. A breastplate will add defense, for example. Bayek’s inventory also includes a mount (i.e., camel or horse), which he can summon, much like Geralt can in the Witcher.

Combat is also vastly different from other Assassin’s Creed titles. You might see some resemblance to The Witcher 3, in fact. Bayek wields a shield that can be used to block and parry attacks. He can also equip various types of weapons, like a sword, blunt weapon, or a spear. Lastly, Bayek can use a bow to attack enemies from a distance.

Aside from the new combat mechanics, Ancient Egypt is a remarkable setting for the game. Compared to other eras that the franchise has been set in, Ancient Egypt is perhaps most enigmatic. Ubisoft elicited the expertise from historians and archaeologists to allow gamers to experience what it might have been like to live during the time of Ptolemy XIII, Cleopatra, and Julius Caesar.

Strolling through the dirt roads, it is as if you can feel the hot wind on your face, smell the charred food cooking over an open fire, and hear all of the sounds of a long-gone civilization. It is a true wonder to imaging living through that ancient time and place.

I am looking forward to seeing the story and characters develop, and to just explore this ancient land brought back to life.

This story is based on a review code provided by the publisher.

 

 

Xbox E3 2017 News Wrap-Up

The reveal of Microsoft’s next console was preceded with a tremendous amount of hype, and not only was it finally unveiled at E3, but its name, price, launch date, and a list of launch titles were also announced at the Xbox briefing.

Formerly known as Project Scorpio, the Xbox One X is touted by Microsoft as the most powerful video game console (and the smallest Xbox One) ever made. The One X, priced at $499, is capable of running games at 4K resolution with high graphical fidelity. Microsoft made sure E3 attendees could see the power of the One X for themselves with a slew of upcoming titles.

Forza Motorsports 7 and Assassin’s Creed Origins in particular were both incredibly impressive. Forza 7 ran at 4K 60 FPS, and Origins ran at 4K 30 FPS. Pushing these games to 4K resolution did not seem to result in a reduction in visual effects or textures – they were both stunningly beautiful.

A bombshell announcement made at the Xbox briefing was the expansion of the backwards compatibility program to Xbox games from the original console, which launched in 2001. Games like Crimson Skies and Fusion Frenzy are among the first to be added to the program.

The word “exclusive” was used quite heavily throughout the briefing, emphasizing that the One X will launch with quite a few games exclusive to the platform, at least during the One X’s launch window.

One particular bit of news that thrilled many was the announcement that Cuphead finally has a launch date of September 29, 2017.

After the briefing, Microsoft revealed the revamped Avatars. The Avatar system has always been a fan-favorite feature and the newly designed art style gives Avatars a classy Disney style of animation. In addition to the new look, Avatars will include wheelchairs, prosthetic limbs, and even an option to make an Avatar look pregnant.

In addition, Microsoft announced new color options for Design Lab custom controllers. New options include light-colored components, metallic colors on some components, and grip textures. As a special promotion for show attendees, custom controllers ordered at the Xbox booth included an exclusive “Made at E3 2017” etching on the controller.

Since E3, Xbox leadership have hinted at unannounced upcoming titles and special console pre-order promotions, but no concrete plans have been released yet. With the One X set to be released November 7, 2017, we should start to see a PR and advertising blitz very soon.

Click here for the entire photo set from E3 2017 and keep following the news feed at XboxPulse for the latest.

Xbox’s Project Scorpio Hardware Specs Released

Eurogamer’s Digital Foundry (DF) channel blew the lid off of Xbox’s upcoming console, Project Scorpio. DF was invited to Xbox headquarters to take a peek into the hardware under the hood of the console, and they shared their findings with the world in a series of stories and videos.

DF’s objectivity and technical expertise has earned them the trust of video gamers worldwide over the years, so when they said that they were impressed with Scorpio’s hardware, excitement brewed among the video game community.

The current hardware champion is Sony’s Playstation 4 Pro. The PS4 Pro is incredibly advanced and its hardware capabilities have recently received well-deserved praise for its technological achievements with Horizon Zero Dawn.

But what DF reported was that essentially, Scorpio will be the most powerful console ever created, by a fair margin. The team and DF determined this based on their analysis of the hardware specifications, but also after they were shown a live demo of Forza Motorsport 6 running at 4K resolution on Scorpio.

There are still plenty of secrets that Microsoft is holding back though. We don’t know how the operating system or other features will be improved with Scorpio. We also don’t know what launch titles Microsoft has up its sleeves. And lastly, the final console case design is still under wraps.

With E3 2017 only weeks away, while we can expect Microsoft to slowly disseminate additional Scorpio info, it’s a safe bet that they’re going to save the juiciest details for the big show.