Games Inbox: Which is best out of Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S?
The Thursday Inbox is worried about storage space on the Xbox Series X and S, as one reader wonders whether to give Star Citizen a try.
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One of the things people aren’t really talking about with the Xbox Series S is the second console potential. Last generation was one of the first where a lot of people bought both consoles. A PlayStation 4 first then an Xbox One S or second-hand Xbox One (the branding is giving me a headache).
Anyway, my point being that by releasing their cheaper machine early they could already take the second console adopters early as a nice cheeky, cheap and cheerful stocking filler (a nice next gen gift for Christmas). People who were hesitant about spending £449 on a console at launch now have something to wet their whistle until they can afford and have reason to buy a PlayStation 5.
I just watched the Inside the Xbox Series S video on YouTube and for the casual gamer with a cheap 4K 30Hz HDMI 1.8 TV it seems perfect. The graphical power to do 4K and ray-tracing must be astronomical if the same games can be run on this machine too. The console is really becoming what Steam Machines wanted all those years ago.
GC: You make a good point.
Seeing is believing
On the Sky News Xbox Series S info they mentioned that the console would probably have slightly weaker processing power than the current generation Xbox One X? Do yourselves expect this to be true? If so then so much for next generation progress.
PS: I will wager a dollars’ worth of donuts that 90% of Switch owners who’ve complained about the content and lack of real graphical improvements in Super Mario 3D All-Stars will still purchase the game.
GC: It might be true on paper, we’ve seen similar comments about how the Xbox One S is technically more powerful than the PlayStation 5, but tech specs never tell the whole story. All that matters is what’s on the screen.
I’m very excited about the next gen, particularly the advancements in solid state drive tech.
But there does seem to be a small problem here. The fast SSDs load huge amounts of data instantly, in the case of PlayStation 5 it’s rumoured to be 9GB per second.
This means vastly more detailed worlds, all loading near instantly from the SSD. Maybe game worlds will be 10 times more detailed, maybe more than that.
But doesn’t this mean that the install size of next gen games will be much bigger as well? It’s almost standard for a big game to be a 100GB install these days, does that mean 200GB installs are coming, or even 300, 400, maybe 500? If the Xbox One S only has a 500GB drive, you’re not going to fit many games on.
And you can’t install a bigger drive as they’re hugely expensive, bespoke things. We could be looking at a situation where every time you play a new game you have to reinstall it from the internet.
This, I’m afraid, means loading times not seen since the glory days of tape-loading on the Commodore 64. Ah, progress.
GC: Xbox One games, and earlier, can still be stored on a USB hard drive but yes, this is likely to be a problem. There’s been a lot of promises about improve optimisation though so it’s another case of just having to wait and see.
Punk now or punk later
I was hoping to get some clarification on what is happening with Cyberpunk 2077 and the next gen releases. In your article about the Xbox Series S release date, you mentioned that the game will be upgraded for next gen consoles but there won’t be a separate version until next year.
Will there be a difference between the two? If I buy the game at the same time as a next gen Xbox, will it only be a minor upgrade? And should we expect a full fat version to follow? If that is correct, then I would rather wait for the full next gen experience playing this game…
GC: CD Projekt has been rather vague about the whole subject and so far we don’t know anything about the next gen versions. They’ve been described as a ‘proper, full-blown next gen version’, but that’s about as descriptive as things have got. By contrast the optimised version will, ‘look better on next gen consoles from day one’. So yeah, pretty vague.
Sorry to send in another letter to do with Super Mario 3D All-Stars. I was quite pleased with the announcement and I will probably play Super Mario Sunshine first, as that was the first 3D Mario game I completed. But I didn’t complete it 100% at the time and moved on quickly, so would look to do that now.
I don’t normally watch unboxing videos, except on The Gadget Show, but they had an unboxing for Super Mario 3D All-Stars on YouTube from the Nintendo channel and, as I was excited about the announcement, I watched the unboxing. I did find it funny when they opened the case and there was just a cartridge inside and that was it and they tried to drag the video out talking about the inside with not much in the case to talk about!
PS: The free games on Epic Store from 4pm today are Railway Empire and Where The Wine Tastes Like Water.
Wrap it up
I think that the Xbox Series S will definitely be a tempting deal for a lot of people and I expect it to do very well in the UK and USA in particular. As I’ve mentioned before, I think that the Xbox brand is popular among schoolchildren (based on the admittedly limited sample of my nieces and nephews…) and a £249 next gen console with a great value subscription service seems like a logical and affordable step-up from the current generation. In other words, I think it’s a sure-fire hit that will increase Microsoft’s market share in a big way.
Personally, being a physical game collecting luddite of sorts, the Xbox Series S and Game Pass aren’t of interest to me and I hope that the disk drive versions of the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 sell well enough that physical copies of games will have a future beyond this generation. However, the tide is definitely turning and the move away from game ownership towards game subscriptions seems inevitable. I’ll catch on eventually I’m sure, as I have mostly done with film and TV.
And on the plus side, it’ll save on wrapping paper at Christmas:
‘Check your email, young nephew – Merry Christmas!’
‘But Uncle Stache, this is coming to Game Pass’
I had my eye on Star Citizen for a while, as a game that would go perfectly with VR and a HOTAS, but I assumed it was another Duke Nukem Forever and was never going to see the light of day.
Sounds like your anonymous reader has managed to play it though, so I’m curious how I’d go about that?
GC: Depending on your point of view it still hasn’t seen the light of day. We’d read the Wikipedia page on it, and follow some of its sources, before you think of getting involved.
Catch up on every previous Games Inbox here
I still find it hard to believe but it’s beginning to look like these 4K Switch rumours are real. These aren’t random goons on Reddit but proper business reports saying it’s real, so… great? I guess. I can’t say 4K is something I’ve really missed from any Nintendo game and would much rather they devote the extra power to better graphics but then you’d be splitting the audience and that wouldn’t want that.
But I’m not sure how some Switch games are going to look with that extra clarity. Animal Crossing is cute and cuddly at the moment, do we really need to see how simplistic the 3D models are? Zelda: Breath Of The Wild is going to be even worse, since it’s essentially a Wii U, and it seems to me 4K would end up making most games look worse.
But what do, or anyone, know when it comes to Nintendo? Somehow I can’t imagine they’re busying themselves making 4K texture packs for old games though, just doesn’t seem their style. In the end though I think not having much for 2020 has worked in their favour. Let Microsoft and Sony duke it out and then just have a proper year next year. For now they can just say 2020 doesn’t count and get a free pass that way.
Did not see EA access coming to Game Pass Ultimate, and for no extra cost. Just looks amazing value and what a library off games being added: FIFA, Madden, Battlefield, Star Wars: Battlefront, and the list goes on. Interesting times.
So the first blood has been finally been drawn by Microsoft and fair play to them for eventually coming out first in this silly cat and mouse game with Sony. I think Microsoft have done very well to have a realistic price point for both of their next gen consoles. (Even if they are losing money, or not, on each console they can definitely afford it). So now it’s over to you Sony, to make your move.
This week’s Hot Topic
The topic for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Garrison, who asks what is your favourite combat system in a video game?
It can be from any kind of game you like, from a first person shooter to a fighting game or role-player but which one do you think had the best battles and what made them so good? Was it how the weapons felt to use, if it was an action game, or the depth of option in terms of moves and abilities?
How much did the graphics and sound play a part and what about storytelling? Was it a game where all the different elements were good or just the combat, and how much did that affect the overall experience?
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The small print
New Inbox updates appear every weekday morning, with special Hot Topic Inboxes at the weekend. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length.
You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word Reader’s Feature at any time, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.
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