Last week was E3, gaming’s biggest annual conference, where the biggest companies in the industry hold highly produced press conferences to pitch their latest. I paid special attention to Microsoft’s announcements, anticipating the release of their new console. The Xbox One X will be released later this year, featuring industry leading console performance and expansive support for 4K televisions. It looks pretty amazing, so I started to think about whether I’m likely to get one.
I jumped on the Xbox bandwagon back in the Xbox 360 era, and upgraded to the original Xbox One when it was new. Shortly thereafter, my children stuffed a few too many discs into the disc tray at once and broke the optical drive. One of the reasons I had purchased the Xbox was to consolidate my console and blu-ray player into a single device, so the disc mishap was a disappointment. By this point my family used the Apple TV regularly and on the occasion that I wanted a game, downloading it rather than buying a physical copy was acceptable. So I’ve lived with a half broken Xbox for a couple years.
I didn’t fix my Xbox One for several reasons, but I think the most important was that I just wasn’t using it very much. I initially bought it with Titanfall because the gameplay looked like so much fun, despite reservations that it was an online multiplayer only game. My misgivings were quickly realized and I dropped off playing the game. I’m just not interested in online multiplayer games, so when there’s no single player mode I’ve reconfirmed that I’m just not going to enjoy it or stick it out. I have fond memories of Goldeneye and Mario Kart with my friends when I was little and Counter Strike LAN parties as a teenager, but playing a multiplayer game over a microphone with people I don’t know does not hold any appeal for me.
My gaming habits have also changed. Games that require huge time commitment to enjoy just don’t work for me anymore. My play time is limited, so I want to be able to have fun for half an hour and then shut it off. Unfortunately, consoles are much more cumbersome than I remember them being when I was a child. Every time I start the Xbox there is a very heavy UI that requires me to think in order to navigate to what I want to play and start it up. Often, especially if its been a few weeks, there are updates waiting to be installed for games or the console itself. When you don’t have much time, watching progress bars and loading screens are a real turn off. Then there’s always the coin toss if my fancy wireless controller still has a charge.
Notwithstanding my lapse in regular gaming, there are a few titles right now that look pretty interesting. There’s a new Dirt game, which looks like a lot of fun. The reimagined Prey might be fun, I remember enjoying the original. Battlefield 1’s campaign looks interesting. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is intriguing. I remember playing the original for a long time on the Powermac G4 I purchased in high school.
So this week has motivated me to try a few games again. Since my Xbox was half broken, I soon began thinking about whether or not I should hold out for an Xbox One X or pick up the very affordable Xbox One S, which is a smaller mid-generation version of the original. There are a lot of things to consider. Will I notice the promised improvements when I have a 1080p screen instead of 4K? Is it worth the cost, when Microsoft’s current plan is to make all games functional across their entire line, with graphical improvements on their more powerful consoles? Should I instead focus on finishing up the rest of my home theater so I can hide those unsightly cables and make the media room look tidier? There’s a lot of things to consider, when all I want to do is try a couple new games.
In the end, I decided to send in my current Xbox for repairs. I’m putting the decision off.