Games Inbox: Is the Xbox Series S worth getting? –

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Xbox Series S console
Xbox Series S – a worthwhile next gen alternative (pic: Microsoft)

The Monday Inbox tries to work out the best and worst Metroid games, as one reader falls in love with 13 Sentinels.

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Double up
Great Reader’s Feature at the weekend, about the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series S, especially as it didn’t try to turn things into a console war. Normally I don’t get both major consoles in a generation (I could probably afford it, but it just seems like an extravagance to me) but I am seriously considering getting an Xbox Series S to go alongside my PlayStation 5, especially after the weekend feature.

I still have little faith in Microsoft exclusives, but in a way that only makes Game Pass in general more appealing because it gives me access to games I’d never pay for and which I can play as much as I like. To be honest, just typing this email makes me think it’s more and more a good idea, so I probably will pick one up. Especially as they seem to be in stock pretty much all the time now – Amazon has them as I write this, for example.

I suppose the most cost effective thing would be to just use xCloud for Xbox games but I really don’t like the idea of streaming for games. The performance and visual quality just isn’t there yet, from what I’ve seen, and more importantly I just don’t like the idea of playing something and potentially being cut off at any time if my broadband flips out. That’s not much of a problem with a movie but it definitely is for a game.

Exciting rhythm
I’m rather excited by the Halo multiplayer technical showcase.

Though I’m not part of the insider program, I will be applying. I thought the honesty of the presenters and their deep dive into how things work and why they’ve made certain decisions, was a smart and welcome move.

Whilst it may not please everyone or win any new fans, I think Halo multiplayer has always been superb.

It has a rhythm and weight to it that I really enjoy. I’m really excited to see more.

Tech footage
Just having seen the footage of the Xbox Unreal Engine 5 footage it made me aware that I love tech demonstrations. I remember that one that was made for the PlayStation 5 also. Batman: Arkham VR wasn’t a game but it was an awesome tech demo, as was Wii Sports.

Maybe we could have a weekend Hot Topic about tech demos and the ensuing hype to deflation or vice versa once the developers employing it, got into their stride? I think that it is a courageous move to put out content so early on with the confidence that it can succeed without really knowing it but just believing in the concept initially. Just a thought.
D Dubya

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Lucky 13
So, I finally got round to playing 13 Sentinels and I just absolutely loved it. Played it near non-stop over the weekend and I just thought the story was so well done, so many twists and surprises. Getting to choose whose story to pick next was often a dilemma as I found the vast majority of the character arcs very interesting, not all but I wouldn’t say I didn’t enjoy any particular one.

As for the combat sections, well, it took some getting used to but on the whole I quite enjoyed them. Messy at times, granted, couldn’t always tell what was going on, but I liked it nonetheless. Definitely my favourite game I’ve played this year, Returnal a very close second.

In Stock now
Just a heads up to say that currently on the Nintendo Store UK they have a lot of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild amiibo in stock, as of sending this email (Sunday, 1st August) as I know there is a lot of fans of the game on the Inbox, if you want to get some for your collection. It includes the Guardian amiibo too.

Also, the Metroid Dread amiibo is in stock currently.
Andrew J.

GC: Still no Bayonetta though, sadly.

Invisible difference
RE: Kiran. If you read my letter, you’ll see I was talking about the difference in performance, not the amount of pixels, i.e. it doesn’t take 25% extra GPU grunt to create 25% more pixels on screen. It costs about 11% of your frames at that range.

Doom is somewhat of an outlier because it’s also using VRS on the Xbox Series X, which leads to some artefacts but a slightly sharper image overall. When Digital Foundry say something is noticeable, this is not your average consumer. These are people that scrutinise it for a living. As I said before, I can’t tell the difference between 1440p and 4K where there’s a decent upscaler.

Photo finish
All this talk about power performance between Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 amuses me. The Xbox is obviously a more powerful console. And as for all this untrained eye excuses don’t wash. You are only allowed to go 70mph in the UK. So would a Mini and a Ferrari on a motorway have any noticeable difference? The Mini would struggle but would produce the same result effectively.

And if you took a ‘screenshot’ of them passing by what difference in performance would you see? I’m no expert in consoles nor cars.

GC: You don’t say.

Equal footing
RE: ‘If you can’t notice the difference under normal conditions what does it matter?’ That was kinda my point.

The Xbox Series X is more powerful, but technology developments have made that advantage less meaningful. You can still find the differences, and with some games it’s more pronounced (Digital Foundry saying Doom Eternal is more noticeably blurry on PlayStation 5 is clearly a disadvantage) but in many cases it’s not so easy to spot unless you look carefully.

If you sit close enough to a large enough 4K screen the resolution differences, increased texture resolution, increased anisotropic filtering, alpha effects resolution, shadow resolution, etc. all can be noticeable, but if, like most people, you don’t actually sit at optimal viewing distances from a 4K screen then chances are you might notice a slightly softened image at best.

It doesn’t negate Xbox Series X’s real world performance advantage, but in reality it minimises it.

It’s a win for everyone in my books and was a key part of me choosing PlayStation 5 over Xbox Series X.

I owned a PlayStation 3 and was subjected to some relatively poor ports of games that were stunning on the Xbox 360. I ended up buying an Xbox 360 just to play certain games.

This time around I bought a PlayStation 5 with the educated guess that I wouldn’t really be losing out much, even though Xbox Series X was more powerful, plus I got the exclusives on PlayStation 5.

GC: Before everyone starts going round in circles, we think we should call it a day on the tech spec talk.

Ranking the Metroids
Like one of the other readers, since the announcement of Metroid Dread I have made the effort to play some of the older titles, after only ever playing Super Metroid. I too, went for Zero Mission and found it to be thoroughly enjoyable if a little short, though I appreciate this was originally a NES game. The update does include an end of game Zero Suit section, but I found the difficulty level spiked massively here and gave up.

I decided to attempt to play the 3DS version of Metroid 2, expecting the Game Boy version to be less pleasant in 2021; however, I don’t have a 3DS, so I haven’t yet played it.

I play through Super Metroid quite a lot and decided that I will aim for another go through in September. It’s on the Switch online service as well as my SNES Mini, so access isn’t a problem.

That left Fusion, which I found a bizarre experience. Ultimately, the mechanics are still Metroid, so it was a great game, but the story (as GC mentioned) is just awful. It really felt like a 10-year-old had written it, with Samus’ thoughts especially being completely inane. I also wasn’t a fan of it being set on a space station with separate biospheres. I much prefer the games that are set on the planet surface. However, I did like the sections where the SA-X entered the same area as Samus, and I can see why Dread is replicating that with the EMMI.

Even without having played the second entry, I feel confident in saying that Fusion was my least favourite, so I am crossing my fingers that Dread plays down the story aspect, though I’m getting the impression it won’t.

GC: Fusion is our least favourite too. We’d give Zero Mission another go though as the Zero Suit section is the best bit in a great game.

Inbox also-rans
Have you heard anything about Fall Guys release for the Switch? I was excited when I saw the announcement on one of the Nintendo Directs months ago, but disappointingly I’ve not seen anything since.
Paul Weymes

GC: There’s no date but it’s still supposed to be this year.

Why I bought an Xbox Series S as a PS5 owner? Game Pass Ultimate. The end.

GC: We’re glad the writer of the Reader’s Feature put in more effort than that.

This week’s Hot Topic
The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Julian, who asks whether you’ve ever been reminded of a game by something mundane in real-life?

His examples include car journeys reminiscent of driving games and summer holidays that make you think of Far Cry, but it can be anything from a location being similar to a game to some small detail about an in-game object or gadget.

Was it just a one-off or have you had it happen a lot, and has it happened more as game graphics have become more realistic?

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The small print
New Inbox updates appear every weekday morning, with special Hot Topic Inboxes at the weekend. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length and content.

You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word Reader’s Feature at any time, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.

You can also leave your comments below and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter.

MORE : Weekend Hot Topic, part 1: Least favourite video game genre

MORE : Weekend Hot Topic, part 2: Least favourite video game genre

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