Xbox One X Showcase in New York
Unveiled to much excitement at this year’s E3, Xbox One X is nearly here, and it’s a beast. To see for myself what this console means for gaming, Xbox recently invited me to their Showcase in New York. At the event I saw Xbox One X up close and personal, plus went hands-on with its launch line-up. The whole experience was, in a word, impressive.
Meet Xbox One X
Dubbed “The World’s Most Powerful Console,” when it comes to Xbox One X Microsoft isn’t fooling around. This monster of a machine is 40% more powerful than PS4 Pro, its closest console rival. Xbox One X’s Scorpio Engine boasts a 6 teraflop GPU for true 4K graphics and blisteringly fast 60fps gaming.
Spec-wise, Xbox One X boasts even more tantalizing numbers. It features advanced, custom silicon architecture capable of transmitting a whopping 326GB per second of Memory Bandwidth. As for memory, it comes with 8GB of flash memory, 12GB of GDDR5 SDRAM, and a 1TB internal HDD. You might be wondering about heating issues given all this power, but here too Xbox One X leads the way. The console features liquid cooling to dispel heat with minimal noise.
Oh, and did I mention it’s the smallest Xbox console ever built? Incredibly enough, Microsoft has been able to cram in all these high-end components into the tiniest box yet. It’s even smaller than last year’s Xbox One S model, which I thought was elegantly compact.
Of course like most of us, I was curious to find out what all these impressive figures mean for gaming. While I had no way of validating resolutions or frame rates at the event, the games played incredibly well. Xbox One X is, naturally, best paired with a 4K HDR TV, and games like Assassin’s Creed Origins were stunning. The step up from Xbox One and Xbox One S is apparent from the moment you boot up a game. More on the games in just a bit.
New Xbox One S console bundles and accessories
To give gamers choice, Microsoft is still heavily supporting last year’s less pricey Xbox One S model with all-new bundles. The great news is all current and future Xbox One games and peripherals are compatible with Xbox One S, so you’re not missing out by going this route. The following four bundles were at the Xbox Showcase:
Madden NFL 18 Bundle
For football fans, there’s the Xbox One S 500GB Madden NFL 18 Bundle. This package gives you an Xbox One S console with a 500GB HDD, and the Madden NFL 18 Standard edition. You also get a white Xbox Wireless Controller featuring Bluetooth technology in the bundle.
Forza Horizon 3 Hot Wheels Bundle
Next, there’s the Xbox One S 500GB Forza Horizon 3 Hot Wheels Bundle. This is a superb box for racing fans as it includes Forza Horizon 3 and the Hot Wheels expansion. Last year we gave Forza Horizon 3 a 95% rating, saying “If you play one racing game this fall [this] should be it.” The Hot Wheels expansion builds on this incredible foundation by adding six themed islands featuring interconnected Hot Wheel tracks.
Middle-earth: Shadow of War Bundle
For fans of The Lord of the Rings, the Xbox One S Shadow of War Bundle is a great choice. It contains an Xbox One S console, Xbox Wireless Controller, and a copy of Middle-earth: Shadow of War. This latest Middle-earth game from Warner Bros. is the sequel to Shadow of Mordor and releases on October 10, 2017.
Limited Minecraft Edition Bundle
Finally, there’s the Xbox One S 1TB Limited Minecraft Edition Bundle. This is the priciest bundle of the four, but it’s also my favourite with its gorgeous Minecraft custom-design. The design mimics the blocks used to create Minecraft worlds, and the controller was inspired by the game’s Creeper characters. Of course, you also get a download copy of Minecraft included in the package.
Minecraft Pig Wireless Controller
While on the topic of Minecraft, Microsoft also has a pair of custom-crafted Wireless Controllers available this fall. Both are based on Minecraft characters, with my personal favourite being the new pink Xbox One Minecraft Pig Wireless Controller. This controller features an adorable Pig design and also has ABXY buttons in the classic Minecraft font.
Minecraft Creeper Wireless Controller
Secondly, there’s the Xbox One Minecraft Creeper Wireless Controller. This is the same controller in the aforementioned Xbox One S bundle, meaning you can also buy it separately. This controller features a green Creeper design and also has ABXY buttons in the classic Minecraft font. Both Minecraft controllers feature textured grips—the same recently introduced in Design Lab Controllers—for extra comfort.
Xbox One games
Now that we’ve had a look at Microsoft’s hardware options this fall, it’s time to check out the games. With major titles like State of Decay 2 and Crackdown 3 delayed to 2018, the Showcase mainly focused on what to expect this year. This included AAA first-party games like Forza Motorsport 7 and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, indie titles like Cuphead, and major third-party releases. Here’s a brief look at each:
Sea of Thieves
First up, I spent nearly 90 minutes going in-depth with Rare’s upcoming Sea of Thieves. For a game still a ways off (it was the only 2018 title at the show) it felt quite polished. Sea of Thieves is an open-world pirating adventure game playable online with friends. In my pirate group of four, we sailed the seas, searched for buried treasure, and fought skeletons protecting their booty. For merriment, at any time you can pull out a lute or take a swig from your mug of rum. I’m really digging the lighthearted vibe, and the game is already showing tons of potential.
Next, I got to play more of StudioMDHR’s Cuphead. Starring the eponymous Cuphead, this 1930’s-inspired run-and-gun game is simply breathtaking. All the characters, enemies, bosses, and backgrounds are hand-drawn with immaculate detail. It literally feels like an early Disney film magically springing to life. And yes, the notorious hard difficult is true—but it’s not impossible. Through trial-and-error I was able to beat a few levels during my brief time with the game.
Forza Motorsport 7
If ever there was a showcase title for Xbox One X, Forza Motorsport 7 would be it. Turn 10 Studio’s latest racing game looked pristine in 4K and 60fps, and the weather effects were jaw-dropping. The build I got to play was essentially the final retail version, complete with more than 700 cars and 30 courses. From what I played, I’m convinced Forza Motorsport 7 is the racing game to beat this fall.
With over 10 million players on PC, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) is nothing short of a phenomenon. The hit game will soon make its way to Xbox One via Microsoft’s Early Access Program. The demo I played was on PC, however, all the controls were mapped to an Xbox One controller. I was up against 99 NPC enemies, so while it didn’t have the same effect as live players, the game is coming along nicely. Control-wise, it was easy navigate, though rooting through your inventory with a controller does take more time. Hopefully we’ll see even more tweaks and improvements as we near the game’s launch.
Super Lucky’s Tale
Super Lucky’s Tale was another indie game at the show, and it’s exactly the kind of game I enjoy. It’s a colourful, cheerful 3D platforming similar to Yooka-Laylee and stars a fox named Lucky. The roughly 20-minute demo gave me a taste for the gameplay, which mixes jumping, bouncing, and digging underground. If you’re looking for a fun, family-friendly game this fall, Super Lucky’s Tale hits the mark.
Middle-earth: Shadow of War
Next I paid a visit to the Warner Bros. area to play Middle-earth: Shadow of War. This game has been specifically enhanced to take advantage of Xbox One X with 4K graphics and shorter load times. It was easy to tell too—next to Forza it was the best-looking game at the Showcase. During the demo I fought an Orc leader, which I could then recruit as part of the Nemesis System. This is the second time I’ve played Shadow of War (first was at E3) and just keeps on getting better. It releases on October 10, 2017, and I really can’t wait to play more.
Assassin’s Creed: Origins
My final game at the Xbox Showcase was Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed: Origins. Did I save the best for last? Given how much I enjoyed the demo, I’m inclined to say yes. The game is set in Ancient Egypt and felt completely immersive with its detailed landscapes, beautiful architecture, and era-appropriate weaponry. Combat has changed significantly since the previous games and now distance matters more than ever. Weapons have specific speeds and distances that must be factored into every swing. I also love the introduction of camels as rideable mounts—early in the demo I found one and went exploring. The game world seemed massive, and yet I’m sure I only saw a fraction of what it truly offers. Assassin’s Creed: Origins is set for release on October 27, 2017.
Well, that about wraps up my time at Xbox’s Showcase in New York. My main takeaway from the event was pretty clear: Holiday 2017 is looking very bright for Xbox fans. Stay tuned for a full review of Xbox One X and its launch lineup in the weeks to come!