The PlayStation maybe arguably be the go-to gaming console for many Filipino gamers, but Microsoft’s Xbox has also been in the gaming scene for quite some time already, providing an alternative experience with its own set of unique, exclusive games.
Like its rival, the Xbox has received massive overhauls across each generation. Here is how Microsoft’s console began and evolved.
Release date: November 15, 2001
Must-play games: Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2, Ninja Gaiden, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
After finding success in PC gaming but also fearing that Sony’s PlayStation might diminish PC game sales, Microsoft decided to dip its toes on the video game console market. The plan was to build a system that would have the power of a gaming PC, and so from the minds of four Microsoft engineers came out the Direct Xbox, shortened to just Xbox.
The original Xbox was notable for being the first console to feature a hard drive. It could also rip music from CDs and deliver real-time Dolby Digital Sound. From a technical standpoint, Microsoft’s console was superior to the PlayStation 2 and the Nintendo GameCube. It came with a custom Intel Pentium III processor along with 64MB DDR SDRAM and custom GeForce 3 graphics.
Helping drive the sales of Xbox was the first-person shooter, Halo: Combat Evolved, which was critically acclaimed for its immersive story and then-revolutionary FPS mechanics, and its sequel Halo 2.
Release date: November 22, 2005
Must-play games: BioShock, Dead Rising, Gears of War, Halo 3 & 4, Mass Effect
Variants: 360 Elite, 360 S, 360 E
In just four short years since the original was released, the Xbox 360 arrived first in the seventh-generation of consoles, competing with Sony PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii. The console improved a lot of things over its predecessor, including console and controller design, revamped dashboard, and better Xbox Live integration. Powering the device is a tri-core 3.2GHz PowerPC in tandem with 512MB GDDR3 RAM and a custom-built 500MHz ATI Xenos graphics.
With over 84 million units sold, the Xbox 360 is Microsoft’s best-selling console. It was with the Xbox 360 that Microsoft introduced its optional, controller-free, motion sensing input device, the Kinect, which in 2011 became the fastest-selling consumer electronics device.
The Xbox 360 was, of course, not without issue. Its most infamous issue was the Red Ring of Death, a set of lights that would appear to signal users that their console suffered hardware failure and needed repairs.
Release date: November 22, 2013
Must-play games: Forza Motorsport 7, Gears 5, Halo 5: Guardians, Ori and the Blind Forest, Sea of Thieves
Variants: One S, One X
Microsoft’s third console is the Xbox One, which the company marketed as an all-in-one entertainment system for the living room, with the ability to not just play games but also TV shows and movies. Surpassing the 360 to a great degree, the Xbox One came with a custom 1.75GHz AMD 8-core processor, 8GB DDR3 RAM, and custom 853MHz AMD Radeon graphics. The console was also praised for its great online service, improved controller, and social features.
But the Xbox One was not without its own troubles. Its launching price of $500 (versus $400 of the PlayStation 4) along with the initial plan for always-online connectivity and bundling of the Kinect meant that the Xbox One was off to a bad start. That Microsoft failed to secure enough exclusive games to attract players over the years didn’t help boost console sales either, estimated to be less than half the total of PS4s sold.
Xbox Series S and Series X
Release date: November 10, 2020
Anticipated games: Avowed, Fable reboot, Halo Infinite, Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II, State of Decay 3
Perhaps having learned from its past mistakes, Microsoft has made great strides in the upcoming Xbox Series X for $499. For one, this next-gen console is in many ways superior to the PlayStation 5, thanks to an octa-core custom AMD Zen 2 processor running under the hood, along with a custom 12-teraflop RDNA 2 graphics, 16GB GDDR6 RAM and 1TB NVME SSD storage. It’s also noted to have better backwards compatibility for old games.
For another, Microsoft has been on a buying spree in recent years, acquiring several game studios including Bethesda to create more exclusive, first-party games for the Xbox Series X. And the icing on the cake? A Game Pass monthly subscription that gives you access to over 100 high-quality games.
For Xbox fans who aren’t ready for 4K, there’s the cheaper Xbox Series S at $299. Despite having lower specs than the Series X, the discless Series S is still designed to offer fantastic and smooth performance at 1440 output resolution. And it’s also the smallest Xbox yet!