The embargo for Xbox One X impressions has just lifted, but Gameplanet won't be publishing a review until next Friday at the earliest.
That's for several reasons, the main one being that the main feature of the Xbox One X (XOX) can't be tested as thoroughly as we would like.
That feature, of course, is "true 4K (ultra high definition) gaming". More than 130 games are getting a patch that will allow them to take advantage of the power of the XOX – the "Xbox One Enhanced" treatment.
However, at the time of writing, very few games have received said patch, and thus don't feature 4K assets and other XOX-specific tweaks. Those that have been patched include Gears of War 4, Super Lucky's Tale, Killer Instinct, Halo 3 (the Xbox 360 version), FIFA, Titanfall 2, and some kid-friendly stuff. I don't feel that's a wide enough selection of games for us to base an an opinion of the XOX on.
However, when Microsoft's latest console hits shelves on Tuesday, a veritable bounty of XOX patches will be live, including those for marquee titles like Forza Motorsport 7, Halo 5, Halo Wars 2, Assassin's Creed Origins, Minecraft, Wolfenstein II, and Call of Duty: WWII. Obviously, being able to evaluate these games will give us a much better idea of the console's capabilities, and a much better idea of how developers are choosing to utilise its grunty innards, so we're going to wait.
What I can tell you about the limited time I have spent with the XOX is that Gears of War 4 looks great in 4K and runs very smoothly, which is a good sign for any games receiving XOX patches in the future.
I can also say that some currently unpatched games don't look any better running on an XOX than they do on an XOS – 4K TV or not. Halo 5 perhaps looks marginally better, but it's a very close contest. Assassin's Creed Origins and Middle-earth: Shadow of War look pretty much identical regardless of console. Post-patch, expect marked differences.
In other words: for the handful of games we tried, the automatic upscaling done by the XOX had a minimal effect on the visual quality of Xbox One games (it appears to do much more with original Xbox games, but we need to do some more comparisons there). So at the risk of stating the obvious, that suggests that Xbox One X Enhanced patches are needed for the console to really make an easily observable difference on recent Xbox One games.
However, the XOX still delivers performance gains elsewhere in the form of noticeably shorter loading times and much steadier framerates. Given the struggles the XOS has holding 30 frames per second in some games, this framerate boost can make a big difference. Happily, those without 4K displays see these benefits too, and also get texture filtering (supersampling), which nicely smooths out rough edges on some games.
We'll have a more detailed analysis for you next week, when we try and answer the all important question: should buy (or upgrade to) an Xbox One X?