Confession: I've always been a Sony Playstation and Nintendo kind of guy.
While I've played (and thoroughly enjoyed) Xbox games like Halo, Gears of War and Forza Motorsport, it's exclusives from the former two consoles that have kept me hooked.
Then the Microsoft Xbox One X was officially unveiled at E3 2017. I was torn. It's touted as having 40% more power than the Playstation 4 Pro and graphics that will seriously pop, even on a 1080p TV. But could it be really worth dropping S$699 and my lifelong loyalty on? I plugged in the beast to find out.
What’s inside the box?
The unboxing had me half-sold. Not only is the Xbox One X the world's most powerful console, it may just be the most beautiful piece of engineering I've ever laid eyes on.
Somehow, Microsoft has managed to fit 4K capability and better processing power into a slimmer version of the Xbox One S body. With no hefty power brick and weighing in at 3.8kg, you could actually take this with you on a working trip if the thought of having to give up your Halo fix has you tearing.
It also comes with a 4K-ready cable and the popular Xbox controller (though it's a mystery why that's still powered by 2 AA batteries in this age of rechargeables and wireless charging).
There’s 1TB of space, which sounds like a lot, but that might not cut it if you decide to go download-only. Forza Motorsport 7 alone takes 100GB, and adding FIFA 18, Gears of War 4, Halo 5: Guardians and Quantum Break should already fill up any remaining space. Then again, the Sony Playstation 4 Pro also ships with a 1TB drive and there’s always the option of an external HD.
Don’t forget to set aside a while for the first-time setup of your Xbox One X - there’s a day one update that greets you once you're connected to the Internet. If you have a slow connection here's a list of Xbox One games to amuse yourself with while you're waiting for it to load.
There’s a lot to see when it comes to the home screen. Your most recently played game appears front and centre, and you can add your favourite games or friends as pins, up to 40 of them. Plenty of options, but confusing to grasp at first glance, especially if you're used to the tile-based system of the Playstation 4 and Nintendo Switch.
A feature I did like was hitting the Xbox controller’s home button to view and start any of your most recent games and apps. It’s so much easier to get back to finishing that stalemate against Real Madrid you left behind on FIFA 18 after you’re done tweaking some console settings.
My biggest gripe? The Xbox Store - It’s hard enough to find a non-featured game (yes I'm looking at you, Forza Motorsport 7) in it, much less stuff like the small tile to redeem codes.
Love for nostalgia: Backwards compatibility
If there’s an area where Microsoft clearly has an edge over its console rivals, it's the Xbox One X's ability to play old favourites, whether via that old Xbox 360 disc you found on that forgotten shelf or from an online download.
And that’s what I did - relive the entire Halo franchise from the start with a friend before kickstarting Halo 5. With more than 500 classics on offer (and better loading time to boot), it’s something I wish I could do with Sony without dusting off my old Playstation. Nintendo’s 3DS is able to go back in time with DS games but the Switch offers no form of backwards capability whatsoever.
The entertainment beast
The Xbox One X is no slouch as a substitute home cinema machine - there’s an UHD Blu-ray drive (which the Playstation 4 Pro lacks) for on-par video playback with a UHD standalone device, and support for Dolby Atmos sound. Paired with a 4K TV, a show like Planet Earth II becomes absolutely breathtaking (and made even better with Sir David Attenborough's narration).
If you’re more of a Netflix kind of person, there’s 4K support for the streaming service. Yep, now you can chill with Stranger Things 2 right after finishing a gruelling race on Forza Motorsport 7. Of course, your smart TV probably has Netflix, but the Xbox One X is up to the task if you somehow misplaced your remote control again.
Should I get the Xbox One X?
If you haven’t bought an Xbox One or a Playstation 4, then definitely look to the Xbox One X, especially if you don’t care too much for Sony exclusives. Your choice should be even easier if you own or plan to get a 4K TV - you'll really be able to enjoy the best of this console then.
Xbox One or Playstation 4 (not Pro) owners, buy the Xbox One X if you have the cash to splash and you really want top-notch graphics, better framerates and improved load times. You'll definitely notice the difference, especially on a 4K TV. Plus for Playstation 4 owners, you can enjoy the best of both worlds, provided you have the time to play everything.
If you're like me - well, yes, the Microsoft Xbox One X is the ultimate games console, and games available for both the Xbox One X and Sony consoles do run better on Microsoft’s powerhouse. But missing out on great titles like Horizon Zero Dawn, the Uncharted series, Bloodborne and Persona 5 is something to think about (and that’s only the tip of great Sony-exclusive iceberg).
Microsoft has delivered in terms of machine ware, but it needs more top-tier games like Forza Motorsport 7 to really make use of the hardware and get more gamers on board.