My love for the Xbox ecosystem is pretty immense, even while being a Linux guy I'd still rather get my gaming fix done on Xbox when not on PC.
There's just something comfortable about Microsoft's way of doing things, something that feels more "gamery" to the core. And I guess it's for that reason why I've owned 2 360s and 2 Ones.
For years I played on my One S, slowly but surely growing my library and taking advantage of Gamepass. Eventually I had to sell it, that made me quite sad and it was the reason why I got another One (not the S) this year.
I was pretty happy with it and it brought back all the good memories playing all the great games in my library. From Xbox One games and retrocompatible 360 and Classic Xbox games.
I noticed one thing however, which is that due to me no longer owning a capable gaming PC, my experience with the One would only get more limiting. New games would come out and would either look better on the Series or not work on the One at all.
After playing tons of Flight Simulator with my dad via xCloud, I decided it would be a good idea to get a Series S.
I sold that one and saved up, waited, worked, did some trading and here I am.
Ignore my brother's toy water truck, pls lol
The size and build quality have left me really surprised. It is smaller than the One S and feels a lot more "professional", as in a lot sturdier and better built.
The size is good engineering and I suspect Microsoft used the lessons they learned while building the One S to make something like this - of course technology has been steadily getting smaller but Microsoft's work here is nothing short of impressive.
My TV remote is almost the same size!
With such a small footprint this thing packs a lot of power, in fact I'd be willing to guess it can provide results better than the clunky heavy desktop I had with an i3 9100F and RX 580.
Regardless of wether it is more powerful or not, there's the fact that this is a console and performance on consoles has always tended to be a lot more optimized and that's something that shows here.
The results can be breathtaking, specially at quality modes if you don't mind lower framerates
I ran Hellblade Senua's Sacrifice and all 3 performance modes were beautiful. I decide to forgo raytracing in favor of getting a steady 30FPS at 1440p and the result was breathtaking on my living room's 50 inch Samsung 4K HDR TV.
Sure, the Series X does this a lot better at a native 4K, but the Series X is also over double the price down here and I'm not forking that much money just for better looking games, I am a low-spec "enthusiast" after all, lmao.
Despite being the lower powered machine in relation to the Series X, it still maintains all the important features from this new generation and something that I'm using way more than I expected is quick resume.
This handy little feature gets you in and out of games easily, acting pretty much as save-states in an emulator. I can even turn off the console, take it somewhere else and resume games exactly where I was before.
Not all games are supported but luckily the console indicates which support it when booting them up.
I wasn't expecting Xbox One games to work with quick resume but they do, even when run off a external hard drive which is great news for me since my Xbox One library is quite big.
I don't exactly understand how this feature works, but I assume it saves a snapshop of whatever is going on in RAM to a partition in the system's NVMe SSD.
This, alongisde the operating system itself, is what I suspect takes up such a significant amount of space in the console's internal hard drive, which can be a dealbreaker to some, considering the expansion options (that let you play X|S games) are $200 minimum.
Luckily you can move your games over to an external hard drive for storage (not play) and you can still play 360 and One games straight from the external hard drive.
about roms later 👀
This really doesn't change the fact that 364gbs is still 364gbs.
It's just way too small and gets easily filled up. X|S games are smaller than their Xbox One counterparts due to better storage optimization but it's still not really enough since most games aren't well optimized enough.
Some games like Gears 5 take up only 40gbs, but Forza Horizon 5 and Metro Exodus get into the territory of 100+gbs.
I guess this will become less of a problem as the expansion options get cheaper, but we'll have to wait and see.
But what is a videogame console without a controller?
This is another case of familiarity, the Series control is definitely an improvement over the Xbox One controller and it feels awkward going back now, but it's not such a radical change as from the DS4 to the Dualsense.
Regardless, the feel in the hand is really good, the triggers are very very responsive and the analog sticks have some of the best precision I've ever countered on any controller.
This is Microsoft though, I don't really remember them making bad controllers.
One thing that's notably different and notably improved from the past generation's controller is the dpad. Now it's not a cross-shape anymore, but instead it resembles the 360's dpad a little more. Luckily that's just in appearance as it feels even better than the Xbox One's dpad.
I found that the extra plastic in the corners give a very good grip for 2D games, with inputs in fighting games being a lot easier to pull off.
Reminds me of the SEGA Genesis/Saturn controller's dpad, and that's my favorite controller style of all time, huge kudos to Microsoft on this one.
I'll briefly mention emulation on this thing as that's basically my gimmick now, but it is a fact that the experience on the Series S is a substantial otherwordly improvement from what the One S was capable of.
Gamecube and Dreamcast now both run flawlessly through Retroarch (although I recommend the stand-alone Flycast instead of RA's core), with even the most complex Wii games such as Xenoblade Chronicles running really well, upscaled to 1080p and sometimes even 4K.
Playing through the Gamecube verison of Twillight Princess in 4K has been such a pleasant experience. I've never experienced this game looking so well as none of my computers ever had the horsepower to do this and my Wii could only go to 480p.
Another thing that I found to be really just incredible and unexpected is PS2 emulation. It runs. It runs well.
Gran Turismo 4 here is running at 1440p on the Direct3D11 (D3D12 has texture glitches) renderer in AetherSX2 at a pretty steady framerate. It's just really good, makes me not need a PS2 anymore.
All of this running from a USB stick through the USB 3.1 port at great speeds, although it's important to note that Gamecube and Wii games will only run well and not stutter or crash when run from the internal SSD, at least from my experience - all other emulators run pretty well from USB (just set them to NTFS and give the correct permissions).
(I'm sure @acstriker will be pleased at these results 😝)
Overall it's just been a really good experience, one that's refreshing and that makes me excited for the future of gaming once again whilst still being able to deliver impressive emulation results for experiencing the past.
I've found myself tracking down all my friends with Xbox consoles or PCs that play cross-platform games for us to have a great time together.
I've been playing Fortnite duos or trios almost every night now that zero-build has been introduced and specially because of how good the experience is on Series S.
I'm just really happy and I hope Microsoft takes this console's future in the right direction. There's a lot that can go right, but if something goes wrong, I'll be the first to talk about it.
Have a good day, afternoon or night lads. See ya later.