Microsoft unveiled the Xbox One X during its E3 2017 conference, and hammered home the fact that it will be the most powerful console on the market when it releases on November 7. It also priced the Xbox One X at $499/£449.
Combined with a lack of new exclusive game announcements (timed exclusives don't fly, Microsoft!), the internet has been awash with negativity over the Xbox One X. Maybe I'm alone, but I think aligning the Xbox brand with power is exactly the right move to make at the point in time, and should put the platform in a great position going forward. The new console isn't suddenly going to put the Xbox on top, but the road to get back there is now clearly signposted.
Forza Motorsport 7 and Crackdown 3 are both arriving in time for the Xbox One X launch, and Microsoft has revealed a list of over 30 games that will be getting enhanced for the new console. There's no Halo-style big hitter (although everyone knows it's coming), but there are plenty of games that should look and run best on Xbox One X. Even Phil Spencer can't promise that will be the case, with improvements being up to developer and publishers, but the hardware is good enough for there to be no reason Xbox One X ever comes in second place to PS4 Pro.
While the Xbox 360/PS3 era seems like a distant memory these days, it was a generation in which the Xbox really established itself. The Xbox 360 was a console practically guaranteed to offer the best experience with third-party titles. Sony's first-party studios were able to deliver industry leading exclusives (at least in terms of visual wow factor) thanks to a better understanding of the Cell processor, but for me and many others the 360 was the primary console. Most games either ran with a smoother frame rate or a higher resolution on the 360, and the online service (Xbox Live) was significantly better than PSN. I bought games for Xbox 360 as standard, with the PS3 reserved for the likes of The Last of Us and God of War 3. That situation was completely reversed this gen, and it's hurt Xbox big time.
Sony can (and cleverly, repeatedly do) use nostalgia to get its fanbase excited, with the only new exclusive revealed at Sony's conference being a remake of a PS2 game (albeit, an amazing PS2 game) following 4K remaster WipEout Omega Collection topping the UK games chart. For a lot of people nostalgic about Xbox, it's not the big exclusive games they look back on, but the hundreds of excellent third-party titles that they played with friends on the Xbox 360. If you own a PS4 and an Xbox One, there's pretty much no reason to buy any non-exclusive games for the Xbox One. That will change when the Xbox One X launches.
It's also not as if Microsoft doesn't have a roster of strong exclusives hitting Xbox One X (yes, also coming to Windows 10 and the Xbox One). Forza 7, Crackdown 3, Gears of War 4, Forza Horizon 3, Cuphead, State of Decay 2, Ori and the Will of the Wisps and Sea of Thieves are all out or coming soon. Sure, there's definitely room for improvement, with new IP needed to show Microsoft's commitment to the Xbox platform, but that's not a bad line-up by any means.
When I buy an Xbox One X, though, it's not just going to be for those games. I'm going to be buying FIFA 18 (I'd buy Madden 18 if I knew anything about Football), Assassin's Creed Origins, Wolfenstein 2, Call of Duty WW2, Battlefront 2, The Evil Within 2, and all the other AAA titles for Xbox One X. I'm saying this having never bought a third-party game for the Xbox One. Microsoft's console will be the defacto home for the majority of games hitting the market, and that will put it in a great position.
Of course, Sony will attempt to counter this by signing exclusive deals for content, like it's doing with Destiny 2 (including a PS4 only Strike) and Call of Duty WW2 (timed exclusive map packs). It might take the Xbox a few years to get back into the position it was in during the last generation, but the FOMO effect should be strong enough to convince some fence sitters that life with the Xbox One X is worth exploring. While that price point of $499 is high this winter, it shouldn't affect early adopters, and it'll inevitably drop to be more appealing to the masses next year.
The old "you might as well buy a PC" argument has been out in force since Sunday's Xbox One X reveal, but I don't want to buy a PC or deal with the issues that arise with gaming on a PC. I know PC gaming is better than it's ever been, and I'm perfectly familiar with the ins and outs of building a PC, but I just don't want the hassle. A console is easy in a way a PC will never be. And I'd bet the price for performance of the Xbox One X can't be beaten.
Microsoft is making a statement with the Xbox One X, that it wants to be the big dog in the console power war. The Xbox has made great strides in the post-Mattrick era, from the days of the Xbox One as an entertainment machine, and gamers should feel excited about what a determined Microsoft means for the industry. Given the song and dance made over the Xbox One X, there's almost no chance Microsoft will ever let Sony outdo them again in terms of raw power.
Brute force alone won't give Xbox the victory Phil Spencer and the rest are after, but I feel like I'm ready to welcome the Xbox out from the shadows and back into everyday use, and that's without Microsoft really going all-in on first-party titles. If 2018 can turn the corner on that issue, Sony might start to get worried.
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