6 things you need to know about the Xbox One X: demystifying the complex console

4. Non-enhanced games will still play better

Even if a game has not received an Xbox One X patch, it will still play better on the new console, Microsoft claims. 

The data is certainly in its favor on this one. For starters the hard disk drive speed on the new console is much faster (50% faster according to Microsoft), which should result in faster load times. 

But Microsoft goes even further with its claims. Because of the increased power inside the console, it says that texture filtering will be improved, framerates will be more steady and dynamic resolutions will be higher. 

The logic of this certainly works. Many games on Xbox One utilise resolutions that will dynamically drop during intense periods of gameplay. If the console has more power it would make sense that these drops would no longer be necessary and hence not utilised. 

Its claims about framerates also have precedence. When the Xbox One S was released last year, analysis from Digital Foundry found that games experienced as much of a 9fps performance boost on the new hardware. 

We’ve yet to see any hard data to back up these claims on the new hardware, but the logic behind them, combined with Microsoft’s track record, is cause for hope. 

While theoretically we’d love every game to receive an Xbox One X enhancement patch, in reality we’d be ok if some of our favorites didn’t since…

5. Xbox One X patches are freaking huge!

As we’ve moved away from physical discs, the amount of space taken up by your average game has ballooned, and nowhere is this more obvious than with the Xbox One X, where early indications are that typical game downloads will be very large indeed. 

The Xbox One X patch for Gears of War 4, for example, brings the total game download size up to a whopping 103.11GB. Meanwhile, even pre-patch, Halo 5’s total download is 98.26GB on our system, and with additional 4K assets this is only likely to increase, despite some clever new techniques being employed by Microsoft

The Xbox One X is only available with a 1TB hard drive, which means that if this trend continues you will be able to store approximately 10 games total, which isn’t much if you like to have a couple of multiplayer games to hand to jump back into occasionally. 

Yes, Microsoft enabled the ability for the console to install and run games from external hard drives since 2014, but when you’re spending $500 on a new console this is small concelation. 

Quite apart from space concerns, these large downloads will also take time to install on all but the speediest of internet connections. 

You can avoid some of the pain by downloading any available 4K patches to your One S (using an option within the ‘Backup and Transfer’ menu in Settings) which can then be transferred to your new console when it arrives using an external hard drive. 

Oh, and one final thing…

6. VR is still a complete unknown on this console

When Microsoft first announced the Xbox One X (then codenamed ‘Project Scorpio’), it was keen to emphasise that this console would have enough graphical horsepower to handle virtual reality. 

However, since that presentation at E3 2016 the company has remained almost completely silent on the topic, save promising that Windows 10’s mixed reality headsets would come to the platform at some point in 2018.

For Microsoft’s part, it’s still keen to emphasise that it sees virtual reality as being a key part of its future, but when we asked a spokesperson if that ‘future’ meant the Xbox One specifically, a response was not forthcoming. 

Is the world ready for a 4K console?

Although we’d intended this guide to outline everything you need to know about the new console, the truth is there are a lot of things that are impossible to gauge at this point about the amount of support the console will receive. 

It’s also likely that we’re only seeing a small part of what it’s capable of as old games that were never designed for it are retrofitted to take advantage of its bells and whistles. 

In contrast, going forward it’s likely that we’ll see games developed with the Xbox One X in mind, and they’ll make much better use of its power. 

There’s also the issue of internet speeds which, although outside of Microsoft’s control, present an annoying trade-off between high-resolution assets and being able to play a new game in good time. 

In some ways it feels like the world isn’t quite ready for a 4K console. Developers aren’t ready to make the most of it, download speeds aren’t fast enough, and large capacity hard drives aren’t cheap enough to deal with all that data. 

With 4K TVs on the cusp of becoming truly mainstream we were definitely going to see a native 4K console at some point, the question is simply whether Microsoft’s console is a little too early. 

Future-proofing is no bad thing, but future-proof too hard and too early and you end up with a piece of hardware like the Dreamcast, which couldn’t utilise the fantastic online multiplayer it was capable of because internet speeds weren’t ready to support it. 

We won’t know for sure until more Xbox One X enhanced games start becoming available for consumers to try for themselves but, for the time being at least, the Xbox One X is a complicated console to pin down.