It’s hard to believe that it has almost been seven years since Xbox One launched. This generation saw Microsoft’s Xbox console hit store shelves with controversy. Messaging had been poor, and many gamers didn’t like the fact that Xbox One needed to be “always online.” Although those concerns were put to rest earlier on, the damage had seemingly been done. Sony took every opportunity to make the PlayStation 4 more appealing. As an Xbox fan, I wished the console launched with more fanfare, but things didn’t go that way. Fortunately, with Phil Spencer at the helm, the Xbox brand has been making a comeback. With the newly announced Xbox Series X releasing next holiday, now is the time to start getting excited because the next generation is finally coming.
Bringing games to the Series X
One of the biggest criticisms that people have about the Xbox brand is that there aren’t a lot of exclusives on the platform. Sony and Nintendo have many exclusives that fly off store shelves. Xbox, on the other hand, has excellent exclusives that do well but don’t seem to have huge hype around them. Even with iconic franchises like Gears of War, Halo, and Forza, single-player games on other consoles reign supreme. To remedy this, Microsoft surprised The Game Awards watchers with a stunning trailer for Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2. The trailer was running in-engine on Xbox Series X and made this writer scream in absolute joy. Not only is Ninja Theory a talented developer, but Hellblade is a critically acclaimed single-player experience. The sequel could be a killer app for Microsoft’s next console.
While there isn’t a release window for Hellblade 2, we do know that Halo Infinite will launch alongside the Xbox Series X. As a flagship franchise for the Xbox brand, most gamers picking up the next console will probably experience Master Chief’s latest adventure. In an Xbox Wire post, Phil Spencer mentioned that all 15 Xbox Game Studios are developing for the console. Right off the bat, we know that Microsoft is determined to make a mark in the next-generation. With Hellblade 2 and Halo Infinite leading the charge, the Series X is already appealing.
Every Xbox in one machine
One of my favorite aspects of the Xbox One is the backward compatibility feature. Some of my favorite games from Xbox and Xbox 360 can be conveniently played on my Xbox One X. With the series X, Microsoft is also bringing the feature for players to utilize. This means that consumers who purchase Xbox Series X will be allowed to play compatible Xbox and Xbox 360 games as well as Xbox One games. Saves even transfer across consoles, which is a solid feature.
Game preservation is vital for video game history. As TV sets become more advanced, AV ports are typically omitted from 4K TVs. I have a PlayStation, GameCube, Xbox, Nintendo 64, and an NES sitting in my room without a TV to play them. Purchasing devices to allow these consoles to be played on 4K TVs are pricey, but Microsoft is working hard to preserve older video games through backward compatibility. While Xbox Series X is looking like the most powerful console on the market, the fact that the console is helping to preserve history is something that makes Xbox stand out among the rest.
Game Pass, Game Pass, Game Pass
The best value in all of video games at the moment is Xbox Game Pass. Seriously, nothing beats Xbox Game Pass. While it made an appearance towards the end of the Xbox One lifecycle, Microsoft is going all-in with the service on Xbox Series X. If you’re someone who doesn’t purchase video games often, Xbox Game Pass is a must-have service to subscribe to. All of Microsoft’s first-party games enter the program at launch. Every month, a handful of video games become available to subscribers, and when third-party games eventually exit, you have the option to purchase them at a discounted price. Xbox Game Pass allowed me to play indie games I never would’ve tried without the service. It not only expands your video game knowledge, but it helps developers get their game to more people.
As mentioned earlier, Halo Infinite launches alongside Xbox Series X. Since there are “millions of subscribers” as of 2018, that means millions of Xbox Series X owners will be able to play Halo Infinite when they pick up the console in 2020. This allows Microsoft to take more risks with its IPs because with Game Pass, there’s a large install base. Games like Sea of Thieves and State of Decay 2 have thrived because of a service like Xbox Game Pass.
Microsoft is ready for the future with the Xbox Series X
I haven’t stopped thinking about the Xbox Series X since the reveal on Thursday. Having grown up on Nintendo and PlayStation, the Xbox brand became my go-to console when Star Wars: Knights of the old Republic launched. There have been plenty of bumps along the way for Microsoft, but the company always seems to recover. With Xbox Series X, Microsoft is hoping to make its way to the top of the gaming industry. While that may be a hard goal to accomplish, Phil Spencer and his team are doing all the right things. Through backward compatibility, Xbox Game Pass, and having all of its studios working on new games, one thing is for sure. Microsoft is looking toward a bright future full of exciting games, powerful hardware, and a next-generation where Xbox will leave a mark on the entire industry. The question is; are you ready for it?