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SYFY WIRE Xbox Series X

Reviews for Xbox Series X and S praise beefy tech but want more next-gen games

By Jacob Oller
Xbox Series X and Series S side by side

The console wars are about to launch their latest campaign, with the launches of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X right around the corner. Now gamers can be a bit more informed about their choice between the long-time rivals of Sony and Microsoft thanks to a slew of reviews for both the Xbox Series X and the smaller, more casual version of the next-gen machine, the Xbox Series S.

Microsoft just invested $7.5B into its games, buying Bethesda, id Software, and Arkane company ZeniMax Media back in September. But without launch titles like Halo Infinite, some have questioned the available software for the machine itself. But, now it's showing off what it can do with its hardware. Let's allow the reviewers to describe the two consoles' impressive features and potential downsides.

Here's the rundown:

Engadget gave the Xbox Series X an 87/100, calling the console "basically a silent gaming PC in your living room." Calling the powerful machine "Microsoft’s ultimate gaming console" and "definitely something hardcore players will appreciate," reviewer Devindra Hardawar explains that it's "everything we’d want in a next-generation system." Unfortunately a console is only as impressive as the games players can enjoy on it and, as Hardawar points out, "it’s launching without many compelling games." Other more disappointing aspects include a same ol', same ol' controller...but much of that pales in comparison to the sheer tech the Xbox Series X is packing. And if the $500 console sounds like more power than gamers need, "that's where the cheaper $299 Series S comes in."

Over at Nerdist, Dan Casey mostly concurs. Describing the "incredibly powerful, surprisingly thick" Series X, Casey highlights the impressive gap in graphics and loading tech between this and the Xbox One: the Series X is fast, gorgeous, and strong enough to keep multiple games going at once. "But the problem, thus far, and I use 'problem' loosely, is that it will be difficult to truly assess just how powerful the Xbox Series X is until game developers push the hardware to its limits," he writes. Lumping the Series X and S together, he declares that the pair create "a worthy successor to the Xbox One that raises the bar in all the ways that matter."

Ryan McCaffrey's review at IGN explains that while there are a "few compromises and, even though there’s no killer app out of the box," the near-silent console is a "compact, laser-targeted games machine that should make 4K/60fps gaming the wonderful new norm" worthy of its 8/10 score. The big problem is, again, that "it currently lacks must-play games." McCaffrey also reviews the Series S, which he knocked down to a 7/10, criticizing its "claustrophobically small storage space" and lack of "long-term viability."

Polygon was pleased with both, with reviewers writing that "the Xbox Series X is boring. I wouldn’t have it any other way," and that the Xbox Series S is a "prudent" buy that will "still work almost as well as those other, much more expensive boxes." In fact, the former comes recommended even over some high-end gaming PCs. It's just that powerful and cost-effective. It might not be exciting, nor have the games yet to make it so, but it works and it's as beefy as promised.

The Xbox Series X and S launch on Nov. 10.