But while it looked better, seeing the Xbox One X in action made it abundantly clear that it's something only hardcore gamers will appreciate. The $250 Xbox One S is still a very capable machine, especially if you're stuck with a 1080p screen. Even if you've got a 4K TV, the One S also features 4K Blu-ray, and it upsamples games to the higher resolution (though that's no match for actually rendering them with more pixels). Honestly, it seems like Microsoft is simply confused about how it wants to position its consoles. Why else would the company announce a $400 Xbox One S for Minecraft fans?
The Xbox One X is a particularly tough sell because it comes a year after the PlayStation 4 Pro, which also made 4K and HDR a big part of its appeal. It's not powerful enough to play most games natively in 4K, but it still gives developers the ability to push past 1080p and cram in more visual effects. Together with the addition of HDR (high-dynamic range) lighting, the PS4 Pro can still make games look much better than the standard PS4. And it did all of that last year for $400. I wouldn't be surprised if we see slight discounts as we approach the holiday season, which will make the Xbox One X's $500 price stick out even more.
Another major disappointment? Microsoft still isn't saying anything about the Xbox One X's VR support. We know it's coming eventually, but the lack of clarity around the company's VR plans is a sore point. That's particularly true since the PlayStation VR also launched last year, just in time to pair nicely with the PS4 Pro's additional horsepower. Sure, PS VR had some issues at launch, but it was still better than I expected, and it managed to bring the entry price for VR down significantly. And since then, it's also built up a solid library of games.
When Gamescom began, I eagerly pre-ordered the Xbox One X, even though I knew it wouldn't reach its full potential until next year. But at this point, I'm considering canceling my order. It just doesn't make sense to invest in the Xbox One X now, when there's little differentiating it from the PS4 Pro. That will change eventually. And for Microsoft's sake, I hope it's sooner rather than later.
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