The next generation is finally open us with the release of the Xbox Series X, so we thought we’d round up all our coverage of Microsoft’s console so far to celebrate the launch. It’s an exciting time to be a gamer. Not only do we have a brand new console, but there are new games to try out on the technically impressive beast. Below you’ll find our reviews for the console as well as reviews for Yakuza: Like a Dragon, The Falconeer, DIRT 5, and Gears Tactics, just so you know what else you’ll be able to play on Day One. We’ve also ended with a little video from the official Xbox Series X launch. Enjoy!
“Xbox Series X is a powerhouse, a beast, and any number of adjectives you like to throw at it. No, it’s not exciting, but it’s the closest to PC gaming you’ll get for the money. The future is bright for Xbox, that’s for sure, and I can’t wait to see the true next-gen power revealed when the games are made specifically for this monster of a console.”
Adam reviewed the Xbox Series X, and whilst the UI isn’t much of a step away from the Xbox One, there is still a lot to be impressed about. As soon as more games come out specifically for the Xbox Series X, players are truly going to see what it is capable of, but so far, games like Gears 5 and DOOM Eternal look and run so smooth it’s a great sign of things to come.
The review covers the new controller (we didn’t know the big X button was called the Nexus button!), Quick Resume, UI, load times, and how the games perform, so it’s well worth giving it a read. Although we haven’t got to try out the Xbox Series S, we’ll have one soon, so if you’re keen to know how it performs let us know, and we’ll answer all your questions.
“Gears Tactics does an incredible job of mixing loud, brash action with strategy and caution, to deliver one of the most satisfyingly playable games of the last few years. Everything about it oozes confidence, from the story and mission design to the fast-paced, flashy combat. This is more than just another tactics game, and far, far beyond a re-skinned XCOM. It’s Gears of War all the way through to its Emulsion-soaked core, and arguably sets the bar for the genre going forwards. Yes, it’s big and brash and loud at times, but it’s also deep, intelligent and balanced, with all the heart and passion we’ve come to expect from a Gears game.”
Mick was a huge fan of Gears Tactics when it released earlier this year in April, and it’s clear to see why. It offers a huge campaign with tons of customisation for you and your teammates, and some fast-paced, energetic combat. As good as the gameplay is, there’s still that heart that exists within the Gears franchise, and with some damn good visuals, this is the perfect game to check out on launch day.
“The Falconeer is a beautiful game that offers a necessary freedom and escape that is much needed right now. The missions do tend to stick to a specific formula, but the story of The Great Ursee and those that populate it is an intricate tale worth exploring. Flying is a dream, and even though combat can be a tad difficult, the rewards of taking out a fleet of enemies far outweigh the frustrations. Finally, the way the game looks is breath-taking. By pressing the left stick, you can remove your health and stamina bars from the HUD as well as the mini-map, giving you a perfect view of the stunning seascape. From orange sunsets to the eerie depths of The Maw, The Falconeer looks utterly sublime.”
It’s always great to see huge studios embrace indie games, and to have The Falconeer feature as a launch game for the Xbox Series X is a massive deal. Tomas Sala has made something unique, beautiful, and engrossing. The story offers plenty of depth, with many strands of adventure, and aerial gameplay that gets the blood pumping as much as it allows you to be at peace with the waters below.
“I instantly fell in love with Yakuza: Like a Dragon. Whilst the amount of time spent watching and not playing might put some players off, it does eventually open up and let you explore what the game has to offer. There are plenty of opportunities to fight, and so many mini-games and side missions that you’ll never find yourself stuck for something to do. The story is excellent, and the characters who populate it all have an important role to play. Ichiban is such an interesting character, and whilst I was unsure how I might feel being someone other than Kiryu, Ryu Ga Gotoku has introduced an equally compelling protagonist into its crazy and chaotic world of the Yakuza franchise.”
I don’t think I’ll ever find the right words to express what the Yakuza series means to me. Every new entry finds a way to improve upon the last whilst bringing a story so good only Ryu Ga Gotoku can tell. Yakuza: Like a Dragon is about as perfect as the series can get. The same impressive open world still exists, but the gameplay is completely different. The JRPG elements work so well that it’s astounding they’ve never tried it before. I’d be happy if it stays like this forever.
“DIRT 5 is an excellent racer with tons of race modes that allow you to experiment with all the cars you have at your finger tips. The Career is fun and challenging, and the sense of progression is satisfying. Some of the modes are tough to get to grips with, and I wasn’t a fan of Sprint, but there’s so much more that it never felt like I was stuck for a good time. DIRT 5’s online mode promises to be yet another great addition to the game, but at present we haven’t been able to try it out. As soon as players are populating the servers we intend to dive back in and give you the lowdown on how the Vampire mode works, because who doesn’t want to evade a vampire car? With some great presentation and a banging soundtrack, DIRT 5 is an excellent step up from the last entry in the series, and I can’t wait to dive in to the online modes.”
If you are looking for something that doesn’t include birds, monsters, or JRPGs, DIRT 5 is one of the finest racing games of the last few years. Adam has played it on the Xbox Series X and thinks it looks amazing (check out our recent podcast to find out more), but it’s the gameplay that stands out. It’s easy to get to grips with but difficult to master. Some of the courses require a lot of skill to get around, and when the weather and track conditions are against you, it takes everything you have to pull a victory out of the bag.
Celebrating the launch
We hope you enjoy your first few days playing the Xbox Series X as much as we have and are excited that it has finally launched. If you haven’t seen it yet, you should check out what Xbox did to celebrate the Xbox Series X launch. In a six-hour livestream to celebrate the Xbox Series X launch, hosts from Xbox On showcased some of the games that would be playable today on the brand new console.
Featuring a 12 ft high 4K state of the art installation, the future of the Xbox was celebrated with a stunning light show, multiple cameras employed to give the effect of shimmering transparency, and a dramatic binaural soundtrack.
“Gaming has the power to inspire, to connect and entertain us, and this next generation of gaming is coming at a time when play is more important than ever,” said Phil Spencer, executive vice-president of Gaming at Microsoft. “There are three billion people who play games across the globe; our vision is to make gaming great for every player on every device for every generation in every location around the world. The launch of Xbox Series X and Series S marks a moment for us to celebrate the power of play together.”