The little games engine that could
Review: Microsoft Xbox Series S
Not to be confused with the similarly-named Xbox One S, the Series S is one of Microsoft’s new consoles. Where Xbox Series X has more bells and whistles and includes a disk drive, the Series S is a less powerful version that is all digital and has a lower price point.
Despite not having all of the flashes of its more expensive cousin, the Series S is a worthwhile console for players provided they know exactly what they are getting.
Gamepass is the feature that honestly makes the Xbox Series S viable. For the initial cost of $1 a month (with Microsoft offering two months free at the time of writing), players gain access to a library of games from the Xbox 360 to today. Microsoft has committed to releasing all of their first-party games on Gamepass for the foreseeable future, meaning that you could arguably buy the series s, subscribe to the pass, and not need to purchase any more games beyond that.
At the time of the console’s launch, the library is already impressive, with players able to access such gems as the complete Gears of War series, three titles in the Yakuza series, the complete Halo series, Control, and a number of indie classics such as What Remains of Edith Finch. While there were no exclusive titles at the time of writing, this is set to change, with a number of titles set to release in 2021, including The Medium and a new Halo title.
Another feature where the Series S fares well is backwards compatibility. Those who already own an Xbox One will be able to easily port their digital games and saved data across and use their controllers on the new system.
One of the features that both new Xbox consoles have is ‘quick resume’. In short, this allows players to switch their console off, and jump right back into exactly where they left off when they boot it back up. This sounds simple, but in practice is a time-saver that you begin to take for granted.
Read the fine print
In saying all of this, the Xbox Series S is only really of value for a certain portion of players. While this may go without saying, the fact that it is digital only means that this console is only really viable for those with a decent connection.
While access to the hundreds of games on offer through Game Pass is a great selling point, it should be noted that the Series S’ hard drive is not especially big. At 364 GB, you will no doubt find yourself needing to sort through games at some point, or buying some more data storage in order to download new games and save your progress. With Seagate the only current official provider of an expansion, this is currently an expensive task that slightly negates the Series S’ accessible price.
That said, for someone looking to expand their games library using the Game Pass and to supplement their existing gaming, the Series S is a viable option, provided you know what it is and what it isn’t.