1. The First Truly 4k Home Console
As the prices of 4k displays decrease drastically, the technology is set to become more common in households around the world. Even though only 16% of households currently own a 4k UHD television — up nine percentage points from 2016 — the market anticipates a surge in sales in the next couple years.
Much like Sony’s inclusion of the Blu-ray in the PS3 was future-proofing for the avalanche of HDTVs in American households, the Xbox One X will be the only true 4k console on the market as the higher-res devices make their way into homes.
2. The “Most Powerful Console” Moniker
Superlatives make for great marketing devices. Gilette – the best a man can get. Budweiser – the king of beers. Microsoft chose its own superlative to push the Xbox One X, “The World’s Most Powerful Console.” But where it differs from the aforementioned brands is that it categorically and undeniably is the most powerful console available in the world. The console’s specs set the internet abuzz and made everyone an expert in teraflops.
With eight custom x86 cores clocked at 2.3 Ghz, 12 GB of GDDR5 RAM, a liquid-cooled vapor chamber, and the much-talked-about integrated AMD graphics with 6 teraflops of performance, the Xbox One X is objectively a beast in comparison to any other console currently available.
3. It’s an Attractive Console
Much has been made of the Xbox One X’s PS2-ness in terms of aesthetics, but at the end of the day, the new console looks pretty damn sexy — especially in comparison to the Betamax player that was the original Xbox One. When Microsoft revealed the final product at E3 2017, everyone knew the console would be powerful, but the real surprise came when the company announced that the Xbox One X is the smallest console they have ever developed.
At Gamescom 2017, Microsoft unveiled the Xbox One X Scorpio Edition, a highly limited console that maintains the system’s development code name. The special edition console features a couple small tweaks that differentiate it from the standard edition, including a green typeface “Scorpio Edition” printed on both the console and the controller, special edition packaging designed to resemble the original Xbox, and a black-to-white graphite textured casing.
4. The Backing of Developers
It is one thing for Microsoft to believe in the power of their own technology. It is another thing entirely for game developers to see the console and buy into its abilities. The Xbox One X has no shortage of fans throughout the industry from both Microsoft-owned studios and third party developers.
“The Xbox One X is great,” said Jesse Rapczak from Ark Survival Evolved’s Studio Wildcard. “Everything from the devkits is so much easier to develop for. It’s faster in all sorts of ways, especially for us developers it’s easier to iterate. In terms of horsepower, it’s just phenomenal, it is expensive but when you think about the price for a similarly specced PC, it doesn’t [seem] unreasonable at all to me.”
“Bringing a PC game to Xbox, Microsoft makes it really easy … in terms of tools,” Jonathan Rogers from Grinding Gear Games, the studio behind Path of Exile, said. “So it really just comes down to making the gameplay good. And especially on Xbox One X, two hours after we got the dev kit it was running at 4K, 60 FPS. That thing is very powerful. It was that easy. I think we were expecting it to take a little longer than that, but no, it was a cinch.”
Even those who don’t own a 4k television will see a difference when using the Xbox One X. Earlier this year on Major Nelson’s Podcast, Albert Penello discussed the benefits the Xbox One X will provide to 1080p display owners, among them being supersampling. Since the Xbox One X will not use additional resources to run games at 4k for 1080p displays, the system will instead use them for spatial anti-aliasing which will result in smoother edges, like the middle image above.
Large games with huge draw distances such as Ghost Recon: Wildlands will benefit greatly from the additional resources provided by the Xbox One X. Gamers will need a 4k television to enjoy all of the benefits of the new console, but supersampling along with more stable framerates and games reaching their target resolution more frequently will give gamers with older TVs a few reasons to consider the upgrade.
6. Forward Compatibility
With the exception of the Kinect — which will require an adaptor to work with the Xbox One X — every accessory compatible with the original Xbox One and Xbox One S will interface with the Xbox One X out of the box. This means that players won’t have to drop another $150 on an Elite controller, buy a new remote, or design a new controller via the design lab.
“Forward compatibility,” as Xbox boss Phil Spencer referred to it way back in March 2016 when it was still called Project Scorpio, acts a central tenant to Microsoft’s new found approach to their video game division that will see less of a hard and fast console generation split. The term also includes games that run on Xbox One currently. The Xbox One X will continue to support games that were developed for the original Xbox One.