Xbox released two new consoles last week. The powerhouse of a fridge beast, the Xbox Series X and it’s cute little sibling the Xbox Series S.
As a serious gamer I knew I wanted the X. A big meaty chonker who can play games at the highest fidelity. Unfortunately, like most other would-be customers I just wasn’t that lucky.
But the kind folks at Xbox sent me a Series S, and for right now I actually think I like this better.
The Xbox Series S is quite small but it feels incredibly solid. The flat box design makes it really easy to put basically anywhere. It’s a bit heavier than I expected for the size but it’s basically begging to be carried around, moved from room to room, taken to people’s houses.
The Xbox Series S is a party console. You know, if we were allowed to have parties.
I remember back in the day where the Wii was king? Lots of people I knew bought carry cases for them so they could take them to people’s house and smash their unknowing friends at bowling. This is Xbox’s version.
Doubly so because of the backwards compatibility with Xbox One controllers and peripherals. Sure, it does mean the new controller is quite similar, and doesn’t feel like much of an upgrade, but it also means if a friend has some of those already, you’re set with just a box and a dream to play games.
Even at my own house it meant I was instantly ready to play with as many people I could get in the room at once. Two of us, if you were wondering. But it was still great!
Truly a budget discount party dude. Like Michelangelo, only there’s no where to put the pizza.
But even without a pizza, uh, I mean, disc drive, this was actually the other thing that has me convinced my Series S is down to party.
Consoles that can take physical media are great. They give you more options, you can buy from your favourite retail stores, take games back, share games easily, there’s a lot of good arguments for discs.
But the Xbox Series S is the first download only console where it feels right. Again, it means if you are taking it out for a night on the town there’s no point hauling around a bunch of discs. Just have what you want preinstalled and go.
With GamePass you have an extensive library of games to choose from. An Xbox Series S and GamePass subscription is really all you need to have a wonderful console experience.
It’d be nice to have some newer titles to try out, but for now it feels like having the ultimate experience of Xbox so far, all in a slim build.
It actually reminds me of those shitty old console 100-games-in-one machines. Only legitimately amazing and not shitty at all. The only downside is you can only really install 10 at a time, but there’s external storage options to help.
I’ve come direct from an original Xbox One. So the Series S still feels like a pretty huge jump in power. I know the pain of waiting ten minutes for a cutscene to load in Gears 5 or just not being able to play Ori and the Will of the Wisps at all.
The Xbox Series S has loaded every game I’ve thrown at it, and rightly so. I’ve had it glitch out once or twice and not boot a game and need to be restarted, but I’ve had this with my PS5 too. It feels like launch glitches to be fixed rather than actual long term problems.
Plus, Xbox is being nice and open about known problems during launch.
The loading times are much better than on my Xbox One and the games look far better. I didn’t expect the Xbox Series S to really feel like a next generation console, but it does. The fact that it manages to do that at its size is pretty damn impressive.
I’ve played split screen co-op, online with friends, and split screen and online with friends and it’s all worked. Some of it took a little setting up, but again it felt more like launch jitters than actual issues. Once the party was full and the games were going everything was seamless.
Drunk in the bathroom
The other reason I am certain of the Xbox Series S party soul is, honestly, she’s a bit of a messy bitch.
The old UI from the Xbox One is basically unchanged. It’s good in the way that if you know how to get around you’re probably set, but despite owning an Xbox One since launch, I never really felt like I knew how to get around.
There’s just something ridiculously unintuitive about the current home screen and something newer and fresh would have been incredibly welcome.
It’s incredibly easy to see all the GamePass games, for instance, which is great. However, there’s no way I could find to just see titles enhanced for Xbox Series X/S. They will have a logo on them, but you actively just have to scan to find them. Even the GamePass website isn’t much better.
There’s just a bit too much of a foot in the past at times, but all of the future parts of this console make it look like a very bright one indeed.
I love my little party box. It looks good, takes up hardly any space, works with a bunch of stuff I already own, and plays all my favourite games to play on Xbox, only better. I really do feel like I’m in the next generation, and that took me by surprise.
Sure, she’s drunk, crying, and making new best friends in the bathroom, but the second the Xbox Series S is back on the dance floor she gets down. And I respect the hell out of that.
Do you like what you're reading on Byteside? We're building a diverse, remotely distributed team of Australians to cover the digital world we love so much. And we need your support to thrive.
Whether a one-off donation or becoming a monthly supporter, every little helps pay the writers who are working here.
We're not in line for any free money from Facebook or Google. And we're not paywalling any content because we want everyone to be able to access what we do whether they can afford to pay or not. If you're one who can, a few dollars really does help us grow the pool and support writers to do great original work about tech, games and digital culture. Support Byteside now.