:: Series X reveal falls flat
THE hype glands have been drained dry for Microsoft's Xbox successor – a trunk of trickery stuffed with enough silicon fancies to churn out high-tech joy in 4K and with nary a hint of loading times.
The Series X may sound like a sports watch, but it's the most powerful gaming rig on the horizon – trumping, on paper, even the PS5, though news on its elusive Japanese rival has been thin on the ground.
At last week's much-vaunted 'first look' at Series X in action, though, viewers were less than gruntled with a showcase thin on actual gameplay. Groaning with muscle, it's clear that Series X is capable of great things, but a roll-call of pre-rendered hokum left many cold as they witnessed cut-scenes that could, in fairness, have streamed from a PS3.
Flashier graphics are a given, but it's probably true that we'll see no major gameplay leaps with the next generation. Graphics have plateaued somewhat when it comes to obvious improvements, and while there's the inevitable kick, the days of increasing horsepower bringing us something genuinely new are long gone.
Series X and PS5 will be smooth operators, but in a more subtle way than we've come to expect, and your peepers will only appreciate the difference if you upgrade your old gogglebox to 4K to reap those resolution rewards.
Microsoft have learned some hard lessons from the disastrous Xbox One launch, though, and alongside their killer Game Pass app, which showers subscribers with a Netflix-worthy catalogue of titles, Smart Delivery will let you upgrade current-gen games to their fancier-pants Series X version free of charge.
On the software front, Assassin's Creed Valhalla headlined the 'gameplay' reveals of 13 titles that included gorgeous racer Dirt 5, letting players hoon around in ultra-high def, mystery-horror The Medium, which takes advantage of the Series X's ray-tracing and includes a soundtrack from Silent Hill composer Akira Yamaoka, and mutant dinosaur roustabout Second Extinction.
The latest Yakuza game will be a launch title while the likes of Vampire: The Masquerade did little justice to the console's powerful specs. It's telling that Microsoft's fortunes still rest on Halo, and we'll have to wait till July to see how the Master Chief's latest is shaping up for the next generation.
The biggest unanswered question is just how hard Series X will hit our long-suffering pockets. Rumours abound, but it's safe to say it'll cost more than PS5, with my crystal ball bringing the Sony machine in at £400 and Microsoft's beast a mouth-watering £500.
With the world currently on its bum, though, we can at least be grateful that both consoles remain on track for a December launch – and if either makes it under the Christmas tree, you'll be hankering for some social isolation.