Games Inbox: What’s the best game on Xbox Series X?

The Wednesday Inbox names Xbox Game Pass as an essential service for lockdown, as one reader asks about the next gen without broadband.

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Xbox optimised
Since Xbox has no games I’ve been forced to play through my back catalogue when on Xbox Series X. Nobody is really talking about auto HDR but I’ve found it to be a revelation in some games. Games like Alien Isolation definitely benefit. The biggest improvement I’ve found is Wolfenstein 2. That game had dynamic 4K, so on Xbox Series X it now looks pristine and buttery smooth. It’s a strange feeling loading up these older games because they don’t look like I remember. Actually, I’ve been enjoying some older games more than, say, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla.

The new Call Of Duty is another one which seems a bit half-hearted. We do have to make allowances for the pandemic impacting development, so I can’t be too critical. The pandemic has taken the shine off this new generation in general. Picking up a console outside JD Sports just didn’t go with tradition, and scalpers exploiting the low availability is very sad to see.

On Xbox I’d definitely recommend to be patient and not give in to the scalpers. And as good as Astro’s Playroom and Demon’s Souls are, it’s not worth paying over the odds. Just keep an eye on sites like GC who always give notice of new stock. Who knew buying toilet rolls would become a thing in 2020, so people buying multiple consoles, for whatever reason, doesn’t shock me in the least.
Anon

Lockdown hero
I just wanted to gush about Game Pass and how good it has been, especially during the lockdowns. This year I’ve bought at full price four games: Resident Evil 3, The Last Of Us Part 2, It’s Quiz Time, and Crash Bandicoot 4 – everything else I’ve got on Game Pass. There’s only a handful of game series that I’m ever desperate to get day one (Tomb Raider and Resident Evil mostly) so I’m the type of gamer the service appeals to.

This year alone I have played A Plague Tale: Innocence (great), The Blair Witch (meh), Bleeding Edge (OK), Day Z (OK), Dead By Daylight (great), Deliver Us The Moon (OK), Destiny 2 (OK), Dishonored 2 (great), Doom Eternal (great), replayed Fable 2 (amazing), Gears 5 (meh), Grounded (OK), Observation (amazing), Ori And The Will Of The Wisps (amazing), and Streets of Rage 4 (good).

Then since EA Play has arrived I’m currently working my way through Stars Wars Jedi: Fallen Order (loving it) and I’ve got Unravel, Star Wars: Battlefront 2, A Way Out, and even Anthem downloaded and waiting. It is actually ridiculous how good it is, I don’t think I could have been without it during these trying times – it might be the thing that keeps me on Xbox as the 2021 line-up is looking a little bare.
Jay (graffitiheart89 – gamertag/PSN ID)

Next gen unplugged
Just wondered if you or any readers have any information on how the new generation performs with no internet connection? I’ve had all of the previous PlayStations and played Final Fantasies, Personas, the Uncharted games, Yakuzas, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, Valkyrie Chronicles, Horizon Zero Dawn, God Of War, The Witcher, XCOM, a few FIFAs, and Catherine, to name just a few.

I avoid games where multiplayer Is the main feature and apart from a bit of slowdown and freezing in the Fallout games there’s been no real problems. With what you can do with your smartphone there must be a lot of people like me who don’t want or need broadband or a landline to pay for. Keep up the good work and thanks in advance.
Edd

GC: A next gen console with no internet sounds less than ideal to us.

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Bad start
I wonder if I’m alone in this, but I cannot remember the last time I enjoyed the start of a video game. What I mean is that these days so many games are complex, open world affairs, with so many crafting/upgrade menus and bits ‘n’ bobs going on that the first few hours are often confusing and overwhelming as you try to wrap your nut around everything – not to mention the usually complex control schemes that require a bit of time to memorise.

I’d say Red Dead Redemption 2 and the patched version of Ghost Recon: Wildlands are probably the most recent, and most egregious, example of this, with both of those games being a bit of a headache for the first few hours.

More often than not everything falls into place and I end up enjoying the games but I do kind of miss the days of the PS1 and Mega Drive where you could (mostly) just jump right in and start enjoying a game right away.

Obviously, this is peak first world problems but I thought it’d be worth mentioning as I’m curious if anyone else feels the same way.
Popeyes_Hernia_82

Virtual next gen
Really enjoying my next gen console, the Oculus Quest 2. Have really enjoyed Until You Fall’s swordfighting and working up a sweat (my shoulders are killing me but I’ve almost got the best sword in the game). Echo Arena seemed a bit complicated at first but I am now addicted to the zero gravity ultimate frisbee and cannot believe the game is free! Did you ever play Final Fantasy 10 and think ‘Blitzball looks fun’? Then you need to play Echo Arena!

I will be buying a PlayStation 5 but after my old experiences fixing PlayStation 3s, and every single one having different parts inside, made me think that getting a launch console is paying top dollar for an interior model. £300 for an Oculus Quest 2 seems more acceptable.
TomBloodySizer (PSN ID)/TommyFatFingers (Oculus)

FriendStation
So, had my PlayStation 5 from Thursday and I must say…. impressive piece ok kit. Astro’s Playroom has been an absolute joy to play through and I’m currently getting my teeth into Uncharted 4 (haven’t had a PlayStation since PS1, so a lot of catching up to do).

I’m looking to expand my PlayStation friend list as I’m now pretty late to the party, if any fellow GameCentralers want to add me… work away!
gavin g1 (gamertag)/duke_of_spook_u2 (PSN ID)

Switch HD
Missed last week’s Hot Topic but did read some of the opinions with interest. I have one of my own about the ‘overrated’ nature of a lot of Nintendo games. In fact, all of them that don’t start with either Super Mario or The Legend Of Zelda. I’m a Switch-only gamer and love the console, in terms of hardware it does what Nintendo does best, brings together modest existing technology in a creative way to create something much more than the sum of its parts.

However, I think Nintendo’s reputation on games is a little overstated. Everyone remembers the big leaps forward of Super Mario Galaxy or Breath Of The Wild, and rightly so, but the vast majority of their games are really very conservative baby steps forward, on a very narrow range of IPs at that. If you look down the list of big Switch sellers, Mario Kart 8, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Pokémon, Fire Emblem, Mario Tennis, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate… they are essentially HD versions of their 15-20 year old GameCube (or DS) iterations.

A lot of them even carry over ancient design decisions from that era, such an clunky inventory management (Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem I’m looking at you!). It’s telling you usually only get one franchise iteration per console, it’s as if without new hardware development Nintendo can’t think of new ideas to improve the games or offer up different experiences between sequels, from a purely software features standpoint. I take the Super Mario Galaxy 2 exception to the rule.
Marc
PS: Wondered on XCOM 2, after your iOS review yesterday, how does it stack up next to the Switch version? Like some I have a Switch and an iPad (relatively new that will run the game) so wondered which version to get. After the ‘Switch tax’ it’s much cheaper on iOS and given the more powerful Apple hardware on newer iPads assume it’ll also run better? But I do like having all my games together on Switch to play with physical controls… and you’ve got the TV dock.

GC: That really is not true for Animal Crossing, Pokémon, or Fire Emblem – and we don’t even like those last two very much. But yes, XCOM 2 does run more smoothly when on a high-end iOS device.

Catch up on every previous Games Inbox here

No need for caution
Got PlayStation 5 set up and here’s the highlights so far, for anyone interested.

  • Controller really builds on the immersion and Astro’s Playroom is great at showing what it can do. You can feel each individual clang as it walks on metal, which then turns to a crunch walking on snow – when it starts ice skating you can really feel each glide on the ice as you change direction. At one point, when walking over a fan, the combined movement and noise coming from DualSense told my brain cold air was blowing on my chin. I actually held it up twice to check it was not actually blowing out cold air. Not had that kind of sensation outside of VR.
  • Tried a few PlayStation 4 games on it and it significantly increases the quality. Tried F1 2020 and amazing when in pit when you can read text from TV screens in the background, when on a PS4 Pro it would be all blurry and out of focus. The frame rate is a huge increase as well and combined with the lower input lag makes it all feel a lot more responsive.
  • Never played Days Gone before but a few hours into that and I have never seen that kind of quality graphics in terms of both resolution and frame rate on anything on my PS4 Pro. You could be forgiven for thinking it was a launch game – can’t wait to see what they can do with new games over the next few years.
  • There are load of quality of life improvements: silent running, activity cards, Trophy progression, etc. and amazing to turn it on, select a card for a game you’re in middle of and less than two seconds later be actually playing where you left off – with this I don’t see any need to launch any kind of quick resume feature.
  • Didn’t have any issues with the size of it and fits perfectly alongside my TV unit, looks great in the flesh and no issues with setting it up. Plenty of room on the SSD as well, as I’ve got seven full games installed and still got 400GB left.

If anyone thinking of getting one and has a question then let me know – I’m certainly glad I didn’t wait!
David M

Inbox also-rans
Anyone having issues with games uninstall themselves of your PlayStation 5? When you insert the disc don’t press copy, wait a few minutes and it will automatically start the install process. This should sort your issue.
StuRobbo1984 (PSN ID)

I really like these mini-console all-in-ones. However, it should be half the price and have at least 30+ games. I have a Capcom retro collection on my Xboxes with many games and it cost maybe £15. It’s too expensive. Come on Capcom, you can do better.
Anon

This week’s Hot Topic
The topic for this weekend’s Inbox asks what is the most impressed you’ve been by something from the next generation of consoles?

It can be the consoles themselves, the games, the controllers, or a service or feature that wasn’t present in the previous generation. What gives you the most encouragement for the future of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S and why?

Do you feel that the new consoles are making a better impression at this stage in their life than previous formats or do you think they’ve been a disappointment so far? What are you hopes for the immediate future (the next six months or so) and the longer term?

E-mail your comments to: [email protected]

The small print
New Inbox updates appear every weekday morning, with special Hot Topic Inboxes at the weekend. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length.

You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word Reader’s Feature at any time, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.

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