It has been over a year since the launch of the Xbox Series S. But it is probably the only current-gen game console that you can buy without to wait (or pay a cut to scalpers). Of course, there will be some debate over whether the Xbox Series S justifies its “next-gen” tagline. It is capped at 1,440p resolution instead of supporting 4K like the Xbox Series X and the Sony PlayStation 5. But needs must in the Great Chip Shortage era and the Xbox Series S looks increasingly attractive, especially with an Xbox Game Pass.
- 1,440p resolution with 4K upscaling
- Up to 120fps in compatible games
- 512GB storage (364GB usable)
- No optical drive
One thing I liked about the Xbox Series S is its compact design. It is so much smaller than the Xbox Series X or the PS5. Likely because it lacks an optical drive and the hardware isn't as powerful. I can easily bring it to a friend's place. In fact, it even looks like a wireless portable speaker with its circular fan grille. The Xbox Series S comes with just 512GB of internal storage, of which only 364GB is usable for games. This is quickly depleted with a few AAA games. But adding storage via the official Seagate Storage Expansion Card is not cheap. You can also add an external storage drive instead. However, games built for the Xbox Series X|S must be moved from the external storage drive to internal storage before they can be played.
What makes the Xbox Series S feel “next-gen”, even compared to the more powerful PS5, is the Quick Resume feature. The console can suspend the save states of up to three Xbox Series X|S titles. This goes up to more than three games if you're counting older Xbox titles. You can resume playing these suspended games almost immediately or switch between them without any delay. It's a gamechanger, especially when you have more than one gamer in the household. I wished I had it on my PS5, which despite its faster load times from scratch, lacks that instant feel offered by Quick Resume. Of course, the Xbox Series S also supports other modern features, like ray tracing, variable refresh rate, and Dolby Vision/Atmos support.
While the PS5 definitely had the more impressive games so far (e.g. Ratchet & Clank and Returnal), Microsoft's trump card is the Xbox Game Pass. This Netflix-like game subscription service (plans here) offers over 100 games, including the latest titles like Halo Infinite, Forza Horizon 5 and Psychonauts 2. Xbox Game Pass also includes older Xbox games, thanks to Xbox's incredible backward compatibility. In fact, I spent a fair amount of time on nostalgic games like the OG Plants vs Zombies. Older games run well and look decent, especially with higher frame rates from the FPS Boost feature. If you play a variety of games or share the console with others, Xbox Game Pass is a must. I would even say the Xbox Series S is essentially a Game Pass box. The top-tier Ultimate plan also lets you play on a console and a PC at the same time.
The Xbox Series S makes sense for those who aren't too fussy about the lower resolution. Perhaps you don't have a 4K TV or intend to play on a QHD monitor. For frustrated PC gamers, the Xbox Series S (and a Game Pass subscription) will comfortably tide you over for half the price of a three-year-old graphics card. More importantly, you can buy it (all in stock!) on Amazon, Lazada and Shopee. And if you happen to be a Singtel mobile or fibre customer, check out the Xbox All Access gaming package, which includes an Xbox Series X or S console and a Xbox Ultimate Game Pass subscription for S$49/mth or S$37/mth over two years. Seems like the best way to get an Xbox Series X without paying the scalpers.
Note: Review unit provided by Microsoft.
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