The Xbox Series X and Series S are celebrating their first anniversary. A good console that hit the mark from the start, but games that took a long time to land. But luckily there is the Xbox Game Pass.
On Frandroid, we got into the habit of doing “long-term tests “. When possible, we like to offer a return on a product after a longer period of time. This obviously allows us to give feedback on the longevity of the product, but also, and above all, to better understand the follow-up of the brand and possibly better judge the next product. In the case of consoles, this is necessarily a bit special.
First, a generation of consoles generally lasts for many years, seven years for the previous one (before the launch of the following consoles), and to this is added the shortage which still prevents many people from affording one of the new ones. machines. I know something, my Micromania took several months to deliver a console that was promised to me for launch day. With much delay and lack of professionalism later (until the offer to offer me a voucher of 10 euros to apologize for the 6 months late), I had my own Xbox Series X.
The first months of poor play, as planned
During my long test of the Xbox Series X, originally carried out with a model loaned by Microsoft, I insisted on two elements. The first was the high quality of the console as a technological object: design much more compact than its competitor, experience of unboxingperfectly executed and very complete ecosystem, the basics were very good. The other point was the lack of games at launch and Microsoft’s poorly detailed schedule for the year 2021 to come. Despite the brand’s many studios now, we have indeed had few strong games to chew on.
Where my first nine months with the PS5 had already offered me strong experiences and reserved for the new generation of consoles, this was not really the case with the Xbox Series X. And yet, it is with the Xbox that I have played games the most throughout the year. Much more than the Nintendo Switch, which I dare not turn back on so as not to feel guilty about the villagers of Animal Crossing New Horizon, and much more than the PlayStation. A paradox? Not quite.
Microsoft is ending Xbox backward compatibility program
The best “games” console
The key to the mystery lies in three words: Xbox Game Pass. With or without games developed by Microsoft, I know that every two weeks I have a new wave of games that I can test at no additional cost in my subscription. It is with this service that the Xbox has become my default console, which I switch on between major Sony releases like Ratchet & Clank or more recently Kena Bridge of Spirit. When Phil Spencer explains that the Xbox Game Pass is “viable” it is precisely this type of habit that he is referring to.
Very concretely, I was able to test a lot of games throughout the year: Call of the Sea, Alan Wake, Control, 12 Minutes, Celeste, Donut County, Mighty Goose, Outriders, Rain on Your Parade or What Remains of Edith Finch, It Takes Two and Grand Theft Auto San Andreas. Apart from Xbox Game Pass, we must also mention the excellent Death’s Door.
Some are old games, many are little indie nuggets, and we still have some big caliber of the year… and I haven’t mentioned the Xbox Game Studios titles. They weren’t all good games, some were pretty disappointing in my opinion, like 12 Minutes, but the Xbox Game Pass allowed me to try them out without spending a dime more than the subscription price. And then let’s be honest, I took a three-year subscription at a low price all at once. There are mostly a lot of games on this list that I wouldn’t have “risked” buying if they hadn’t been included in Game Pass. Beyond the blockbusters, the Microsoft subscription is a great way to take risks and discover games that are not in our favorite genres.
An end of the year in apotheosis
If we focus instead on the great titles developed by Microsoft within Xbox Game Studios, the wait will have been long. Until July 2021, it was necessary to rely mainly on ports of PC or Xbox One games such as Gears Tactics, Flight Simulator or Ori and The Will of the Wisps. Great games, but no new games.
From the summer, the machine began to fall into place. Psychonauts 2 may be my game of the year, although I still regret the absence of a French voice in this excellent adventure game from Tim Schafer and Double Fine Production. Then at the end of the year, Microsoft did very well with the successful launches of Forza Horizon 5, which attracted 10 million players during its launch week, and Halo Infinite, which succeeded in dethroning Fortnite and Call Of. Duty Warzone in the ranking of the most popular games on Xbox in the United States. We must not forget the launch on the first day of Back 4 Blood, which helped to complete this end of the year.
After years of scarcity on Xbox One, Microsoft finally seems to have turned the page and started releasing big titles on its new consoles. With its many studios, we know that we should not be bored in the future.
A console that evolves quickly and well
That’s not all, the Xbox Series X also had a very good first year thanks to the new functions that Microsoft regularly offers for its console. This can range from small tweaks like adding a category “quick resumeWhich allows you to list the games recorded in the console multitasking, up to more interesting new features. The best example is the arrival of “FPS Boost», A feature that improves the performance of backward compatible Xbox 360 and Xbox One games.
We therefore have games that now run better on the Microsoft console, without work on the part of the developers. The list is still small, but the feature is free and good to take. I could also mention the transition of the interface to 4K, the addition of Dolby Vision in games, or the integration of Xbox Cloud Gaming. The latter allows you to play Xbox games without downloading them, which further enhances the ability to quickly and easily try out Xbox Game Pass titles.
Xbox Series S takes off
I won’t dwell on the Xbox Series S here, since I haven’t tested it for a long time. I did, however, monitor game releases to see what the console could offer in terms of performance. Microsoft’s small console could raise concerns about its power level, compared to previous consoles like the Xbox One X. If we omit a few titles at launch that may have been poorly optimized, the Xbox Series S has shown that it is a real consolenext-gen. It owes it in particular to its SSD which shortens the loading times enormously, and to its processor powerful enough to ensure the 60 FPS on many titles.
A modern ecosystem
A console can now be integrated into a larger ecosystem. What makes me start a game on Xbox Series X rather than PlayStation is also those little extras like synchronized cloud saves, which allow me to resume my game on PC or with the cloud gaming version. It’s also the Xbox mobile app that allows me to quickly share my screenshots or little game clips.
Last element, the possibility in two clicks to take control of its console from a PC or a mobile device to play it in streaming.
My new favorite console
After these first 12 months, the Xbox Series X has therefore become the console I prefer to turn on to play in front of the TV. The evolution of the console, the renewal of the Game Pass or the releases of Xbox Game Studios games, there is always news around the machine. It is very lively and very pleasant. These might not be things that everyone will love, but it’s also what is energizing when you love video games.
As we could predict, we are entering a new golden age of video games where all the big players are in good health, offering healthy and positive competition. Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft all offered great games throughout the year. The Xbox Game Pass convinced me to turn on my Xbox between the releases of competing consoles.