I didn’t have any plans to revisit the Xbox Series S, but I’ve had more time to spend with this little console, and with that comes a lot of new things I’d like to share. I’m sure a lot of the things I’m going to talk about will have some of you scratching your heads, like ‘how’d this dude not know about this?’ But having used this every day for just over 3 month, I’ve had a chance to get to know more about it and reflect on how far consoles have come. In this X Box Series S review article, we are going know more about Background, Design, game Pass, Controller, Share Button and more.
Also Read: PSVR 2 Review 2023
So let’s get into it. First off, I want to add that the last time I was a serious console-only gamer was back in the Xbox 360 days. Online gaming was only just getting fleshed out, and you’d have to go out and snag a Wi-Fi dongle to plug it into the back of the system because it didn’t come with Wi-Fi on release.
The native Xbox headsets were awful quality, but honestly, that was an experience of its own. Since swapping to PC gaming in the late 2000s, I haven’t really been into consoles for a while. Even with the Xbox One S, it didn’t quite meet my expectations. While it was useful to have, I actually didn’t end up using it much for gaming. I know, right? Who buys a console and doesn’t game on it? I think it was that the gap between my gaming PC then and the 1S was just too large. This leads me to the Xbox Series S, and honestly, the whole playing field has changed. This Xbox is an absolute marvel. That being said, the first thing I want to touch on is Game Pass. I mentioned it in my first review, but honestly, I still can’t get over the convenience factor and straight-up amazingness of using Game Pass just from a financial standpoint.
Xbox Series S Game Pass
Back on the regular Xbox in 360 days, you’d drop like 60 or 70 bucks on a game and crush it in like one weekend, unless it had huge replayability like the CODs and Halos. While that was money well spent, it did add up. You’d grab the new Call of Duty again for like 70 bucks and dish out 12 bucks a month for Xbox Live Gold. So today, with Game Pass, you can snag Halo Infinite day one, Rainbow Six day one, you get Forza and whatever else, and just have a good time. As long as it’s available on Game Pass, you can play the game with zero buyer’s remorse. Try a game you don’t like? No problem, uninstall it. That, or try using cloud gaming, which is included in Game Pass. What a blast! For real, I saw this shark game had a great for cloud gaming tag, so I gave it a go. I actually probably wouldn’t have bothered trying it without cloud gaming; it just looks like such a dumb game. But I had way more fun than I expected. I ended up even installing it. I also realized if they ever take it off Game Pass, Microsoft might just get a couple bucks out of me. The downside is, if the games aren’t there on Game Pass, you still gotta dish out the cash to buy them. But with the freedom of Game Pass, depending on who you are, you’re still gonna come out on top.
So, talking about the build and system design, I remember turning on the old Xbox 360, and it sounded like a jet engine was in your room. I haven’t really heard much fan noise coming out of this thing, though. It really is a technical wonder. Coming down to the build and size, I’m still all for it. It’s so compact; I almost can’t decide where to put it. Over the last week alone, I had it in my living room, the basement, and my office. It’s just so easy to move around, especially if you have an extra set of cables. I’m still in love with the minimal aesthetic. I was considering putting a skin on it, but honestly, I think it looks amazing the way it is. This is probably the only game system I’d ever consider bringing with me while traveling. That, and being all digital, you don’t even have to bring around a bunch of disks with you. At first, I hated not having a disk drive, but really, I’m over it now. While it would still definitely be nice to have, all digital is probably going to be the future anyways for future generations, just as headphone jacks disappeared on most smartphones. I think this will be the same thing.
Xbox Series S Controller
Now, talking about the controller, this thing legit just feels better. It feels like they’ve shrunk it down a bit, and it feels more comfortable in the hand comparatively as well. The trigger buttons have these little grippy dots on them that weren’t there on the old generation controller. For me, this is such a good change. I’m not a sweaty gamer like I used to be on COD back in the day, but man, this small change is great. You don’t notice you want this until you’ve had it.
There are also similar dots along the back grip of the controller. If I use my old one, it’s definitely noticeable. The buttons are incredibly tactile, especially the changes they’ve made to the D-pad. I don’t know what took them so long to make these changes. It’s definitely better. The old generation controller just feels mushy.
Since I’ve been using this controller so much, I’m definitely now considering snagging myself a rechargeable battery set. I’ve been using these rechargeable batteries from Ikea, which is fine, but I wanted to get some sort of dock for my office setup. Also, keep in mind that if you’re using a headset through your controller, I’ve noticed the batteries die much faster. So definitely get yourself some sort of charging solution, whether it be rechargeable batteries like mine or some sort of battery pack or dock.
There’s also something new on the controller, which is the share button. I haven’t used it much, but I was able to download a scene just by pressing the share button, and using the Xbox app on my phone to get the snippets is actually very handy. The whole sharing feature is well thought out, and I find myself using it more and more. In my first review, I mentioned that I was disappointed I couldn’t use this feature in my office since I’m using a Lenovo ultra-wide monitor, and the resolution stretched out and looked super ugly. But it turns out, I can actually force my ultra-wide to display the correct resolution. I also had to swap the display settings on the Xbox itself to manual so that I could adjust the refresh rates and resolutions. It worked out pretty well because I’m now able to game at 1440p in my office, which is super nice to have the option. Finally, my monitor also supports freesync, so 60hz is amazingly smooth. While it can’t entirely compete with my gaming PC, it’s still nice to sit back with a controller.
Xbox Series S Games
Something that has made me fall deeply in love with Xbox is their selection of available games. The last Halo game I played was Halo 3 with the boys back in high school, and all I can say is wow, it has come so far. Halo Infinite is just such a joy to play, and the Series S puts out such an incredibly beautiful image. I’ve also been spending a lot of time on the remastered Skyrim, and it just looks so good from something smaller than a cereal box; I honestly can’t believe it. I mentioned it earlier for Game Pass, but Microsoft just keeps delivering with the day one launches. I’m a busy guy, and I still haven’t gotten through Halo or Forza yet; they’ve got the new Rainbow Six waiting for me. I’m almost considering taking a week off work just to catch up on my backlog of games. Previously, I mentioned you could expand your system with an external SSD, but I was actually wrong. My bad; external storage can only be used for non-Series X or S games.
I also previously mentioned that I was a one or two-game type of guy. Well, Game Pass changed that pretty quickly. I’m actually out of storage on my system now. While I felt like 512 gigs was enough at first, the availability of games makes you chew through that pretty quickly. With only 360 gigs usable out of the box, it’s manageable, but I still wish there were better options. Since I’m trying new games left and right, I think I’m going to pick up the native expansion card soon. It’s expensive for sure, but I think it might be worth the investment. It’s not like I’m getting rid of my Series S anytime soon. It kind of sucks they wouldn’t let us open up and add an SSD or something, though, or at least through the USB. This kind of feels like an exclusive Microsoft Seagate cash grab. Still, I’m sure the card is super convenient to just plug and play.
One of the things to help against storage issues is cloud gaming. Last time I tried Game Pass on my Xbox One S, cloud gaming didn’t exist. So this is just incredible to me. If you want to demo a game, just click play and you’re good to go. I mentioned it before, I’ve been super into Man-eater. This game is just simple fun. Next to Game Pass, Quick Resume is top tier. Honestly, maybe I’m just an old man, but this is just the most next-gen feature to me. It’s overwhelmingly badass, plain and simple. As a dude with limited time, this is just invaluable to me. If I’ve got 20 minutes before work or 30 minutes before bedtime to game, not spending 10 to 20 percent of that time on a load screen is just priceless. Usually, it’s the consoles that try to keep up with PC, but I feel like it’s the other way around for this one feature. I still haven’t found an equivalent on PC.
Something super simple that I think was available before but I missed is headset support. This controller has a 3.5 jack on the bottom, and it’s just so easy to plug in a headset and get immersed in what you’re playing. I think this was also available on the 1S series. Coming from the Xbox 360 as my last console, I was so used to that silly native headset that I just forgot to consider this. Since I didn’t game as much as I should have on the Series S, I didn’t notice it had it. Right now, I’m using the HyperX Cloud X2 from my desktop setup, and it really is a good experience. It works surprisingly well, and there’s zero delay in sound. 10 out of 10 experience.
Now, talking about one feature I didn’t really care for at first but grew to love is the media applications on the Series S. Like, I definitely have Netflix on any screen in the house, but it’s satisfying to not use a browser to watch something. When I feel like chilling in my office, I’ve been using Disney Plus and Netflix loads, just leaning back in my office, which is nice. Thinking about anyone who only has their room or if they’re in a dorm, it’s just so easy to throw on a headset through the controller and get lost in whatever you’re watching.
Quick mention on cross-play: it’s really nice that platforms are finally connecting with each other. It’s great to be able to play Halo Infinite multiplayer with buddies who are on PC. Even older games like Overwatch are starting to have this feature. I’m not sure if there’s a mouse and keyboard advantage or anything, but aim assist on console is the smoothest it’s ever felt. Joystick controller play is pretty unique, but I got used to it after maybe 10 minutes of play.
UI and Menus
Spending some time in the UI, I feel like out of the box, the UI is kind of bloated. There were like five pins that were useless to me, the store, separate applications, and just random stuff. I ended up removing it all and just having Game Pass, Entertainment, and some of my pinned games. Regarding settings, they’re fine overall. One thing I wish was that the resolution adjustments weren’t tucked away with the auto-resolution settings. Sometimes when swapping between displays from my living room and office, the display just wouldn’t kick in. After some research, I found out how to reset the display settings and ended up having to use manual mode.
While I don’t have many complaints about this system, there are still a few things I wish it had or could improve upon. The biggest issue for me is the native storage card. Its price is just too high, and the fact that it’s the only card that works for all Series X and S games is quite restrictive. This is in contrast to the PS5, where you can actually open it up and add your own SSD. Of course, we know that this device is all digital when we buy it, but sometimes I can’t shake the feeling of wanting a disc drive. It would be pretty cool if they released a disc drive down the road, and you could just plug it in via USB or something if you need it. That’s far from a deal breaker for me, but it would be nice to be able to go into GameStop and pick up a used copy of Red Dead 2 or something. Lastly, one simple improvement would be to make the controllers rechargeable. It’s 2022, and even my kitchen food scale has a rechargeable battery. Or at least have it come with rechargeable battery packs out of the box. But I get it, they are a company, and they want to sell you battery packs separately.
So, ultimately, at this point, I really don’t think anyone should be holding out to buy into the next generation of gaming. I’ve said it before, but this system is available everywhere. You can walk into any store that carries consoles, and it’s likely that they have this on the shelf. I don’t think the Series X or PS5s will be readily available anytime soon. I mean, Sony just announced they’re making more PS4s since they can’t make enough PS5s. I don’t really get that GPUs are insanely hard to get still, or they’re ridiculously overpriced, and at this price point, good luck building a PC or finding a pre-built. $300 carries so much value in this system, but the point being, don’t talk yourself out of a good time because truly this thing delivers. I’ve been out of the console space for so long, but I’m super happy the Series S reintroduced me. I feel there was too much of a gap between my PC gaming and the Xbox One S, so this is a breath of fresh air. Now, one thing for sure, this might not be for the hardcore gamer, but it could be if you need it to be. For me, after a long day, this is 100% the most convenient thing. To be able to pick up a controller, melt into my couch or chair, and be gaming within literally 30 seconds, that alone is priceless. I’m happy with the time I’ve spent on this console over the 3 month.
X Box Series S Review 3 Month Later
So, ultimately, at this point, I really don't think anyone should be holding out to buy into the next generation of gaming. I've said it before, but this system is available everywhere.