It has been almost a week since I got my hands on the Xbox Series S, and there are a few things worth talking about when it comes to its positives and negatives that you may not have considered. Hopefully, this will make you feel more confident in choosing your gaming companion for the next few years.
First of all, arguably the most important feature of this device is its cheapness. The ‘weaker’ version of latest generation Xbox consoles is around £200 cheaper than its more high-end counterpart, but make no mistake, it’s incredible value for money and it’s still very powerful. The loading times between the two new systems are almost identical, and are both much faster than the previous generation. A vivid example is GTA 5 which took ages to load on the older consoles, but now takes only 10-20 seconds.
The price point discussion is relevant not only to the device itself, but also to the content you use it for. Microsoft’s Game Pass is a killer feature and is essentially the Netflix of gaming. The best available subscription, Game Pass Ultimate, costs £10.99 per month and gives you access to a wide range of titles, from the recent Gears 5 to Forza, Sea of Thieves, and Sniper Elite 4.
In addition, the Game Pass includes EA Play, which gives you access to many popular titles such as Fifa, Battlefield, Star Wars: Battlefront, and many others. If the number of games already available isn’t enough, the Game Pass also gives you a 10% discount on all EA titles as well as various discounts for other products – some of the games are even free.
Another feature, which is a huge boon of the Xbox, is its backwards compatibility with games from previous generations. You can play Alan Wake from Xbox 360, then move to Marvel’s Avengers on Xbox One and finish with Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla. On top of this, the fact that both the Xbox Series S and Series X automatically improve upon past-gen games to make them look more modern gives yet another great reason to consider this device.
The only distinct differences between the Series S and Series X are that the Series S has no disc drive, meaning you can only download games, and that the Series S cannot natively run games at higher graphical resolutions, such as 4K and 8K. Instead, the Series S renders games at 2K (1440p) and upscales them to 4K, so they’ll still look better on 4K televisions, even though the console isn’t actually ‘processing’ the games in 4K. Even though ultra high resolution gaming became a reality in the previous generation, it was never used to the extent that it was considered to be essential for gaming. In addition, most gamers still don’t have 4K displays, and although they’re rising in popularity, they are still quite expensive.
Continuing with graphics, casual gaming is still prevailing, so the higher frames per second (how smooth movement in a game looks) and raytracing (complex reflections) which Xbox Series S can still deal with in lower scales also should not be a problem. Games don’t always need these technical attributes to be cool, engaging and attractive to consumers, especially those who just want to have access to the newest generation of games.
For now, there is only one significant downside of Xbox Series S, and that is the amount of storage space it has available. Even though it supposedly has 512GB on the disk, the actual capacity is only 364GB due to all of the system apps and settings. Modern games often take around 50-70 GB of space, sometimes even more, so at that rate you’ll only be able to download around five (!) games before your disk becomes full (ridiculous).
However, it’s not the end of the world. You can buy a new Xbox 1TB expansion drive (for a rather pricey £219, although it will almost certainly become cheaper after a while) and save both new and old games there. Of course, there is a cheaper alternative – standard expansion drives are much cheaper, but because of the new system requirements that ‘next gen’ games have for speedier storage, they will only be able to store games from previous generations.
Overall, the Xbox Series S is almost a perfect console. Although it may lack some cosmetic gaming features (and of course, a disc drive), it is still an incredibly powerful, compact (around the height of three toilet rolls) and easy to use gaming device, which is perfectly suitable for both veteran gamers and those who have only just begun exploring the gaming universe.