Attention, Xbox One X early adopters! Here’s what you need to know to be ready to go on launch day.
Embargo just lifted for the Xbox One X reviews, and I’ve been putting Microsoft’s latest gaming console through the motions over the last week. On digital paper, this thing is a beast. While the official release date for the Xbox One X isn’t until the 7th of November, I wanted to write a guide on what to do to ensure you’re Xbox One X ready, y’know, if you’re one of those eager-beaver gamers who’s going to adopt on or close to launch.
If you already have an Xbox One, whether it’s the 2013 original or the Xbox One S, there are steps you can take to have all of your relevant games ready to play with Xbox One X enhancements as soon as you plug your new console in. Bear in mind that the Xbox One X comes with everything you need to get up and going, including a newfangled HDMI cable (for owners of 4K TVs), power cord, controller, and batteries for that controller.
It’s worth noting that not every already-released game that’s been flagged for Xbox One X enhancements will be ready for launch. Microsoft PR has told me that players should keep an eye on this website for a list of games that have been marked for Xbox One X enhancements.
I’m told the site is updated daily, and it lists whether the Xbox One X patches are ready, and what you should expect from those patches. Not every game that’s set to receive Xbox One X enhancements will offer 4K. Some offer 4K, some offer HDR, others are mysteriously labelled as ‘Xbox One X Enhanced’, which could mean any number of things, and some are a mix of those three categories. The good news is it’s not just all about fidelity, either.
Gears of War 4, for instance, ticks all three of those categories, and actually delivers on the non-4K, non-HDR enhancements front by letting players choose to up the frame rate (for a consistent 60fps across all modes, instead of just competitive). That’s a really cool option, and I hope more developers follow suit. You can, of course, just stick with the eye candy, and you definitely should if you’re using Gears of War 4 to show off your new purchase (Gears 4 is highly recommended for this).
But I digress.
For any of the games listed on the Xbox One X Enhanced website that are already categorised as ‘Available Now’, you can download their Xbox One X-specific patches on an older Xbox console. Even if you don’t currently own an Xbox One but have access to one, you can use this following trick to ready up (assuming the person who owns the Xbox One doesn’t mind you using their bandwidth).
First, you want a USB 3.0 external hard drive, ideally one with a larger capacity. Some of these Xbox One X-enhanced games weigh in at more than 100GB, so you definitely don’t want a tiny drive. You also, ideally, want to have these games already installed, so you just have to deal with the Xbox One X patches, rather than downloading the whole thing from scratch. If not, be wary of blitzing through your download cap (mine has been smashed this month).
Plug the hard drive into the Xbox One, and then select to have it formatted to seamlessly expand the storage of the Xbox One console. Tap the big Xbox logo on the controller, go to Settings, then System, and finally Storage. Move over to the external storage, hit A, then select ‘Install here by default’. This is assuming you’re downloading a game from scratch. If not, you’ll want to back out, hit A on your internal storage, then select Transfer. From here, you can either choose to copy, or move (cut & paste) individual or all relevant Xbox One X-enhanced games to the external drive.
When that’s done, back out to System, then select ‘Backup & Transfer’. You want to tick the box next to ‘Download 4K game content’.
You’re not done here, though. You also want to go back to System, then select Updates. Ensure the option to ‘Keep my games & apps up to date’ is ticked. Honestly, this was hit or miss for me, and games weren’t always automatically updated. If that happens to you, or you’re just feeling paranoid, try start any of the games you’re looking to get Xbox One X updates for and they’ll prompt you to update if a patch is available. It’s not as automated, but it’s the best way to ensure you’re good to go.
When your Xbox One X is out of the box, just plug in that same external hard drive, and you’re good to go. This is how I prepped for my Xbox One X. The other option is to perform a system transfer by going to Settings, Network, then Network transfer. Your existing Xbox One and Xbox One X will have to be connected to the same network, which means you’ll have to do this after you get your new console, but they should detect each other and allow you to transfer games across. Ideally, you want to use a wired connection for this step.
The benefit of activating this feature, even after you’re up and running, is that you can keep multiple Xbox One consoles synchronised across your home network. If, say, you have an Xbox One X connected to your main TV, and an older Xbox One in a study or bedroom, this network feature helps to keep them paired, which means no doubling-up with downloading updates and the like. Keep in mind that it won’t work when you’re playing a game, though, and it also won’t work while you’re updating a game or transferring it between external and internal drives.
If you’ve ever connected a 4K-capable console to a 4K screen, you might have discovered it’s not as plug-and-play as you’d like. This was the case for me connecting my PlayStation 4 Pro to my 4K LG OLED TV, and the trend continued with the Xbox One X. For the PlayStation 4 Pro, the image would cut initially in or out, or just flat-out not work. With the Xbox One X, it was similar, except that it worked perfectly at first, but started dropping in and out during the second day-zero patch.
Oh, the Xbox One X, like the other Xbox Ones, has an additional hurdle by way of two HDMI ports: one is in, and the other is out. In fairness, these are fairly obviously labelled, but it’s best to get it right the first time so you can rule that out as a potential troubleshooting step (especially if you’re groping blindly with an HDMI cable).
You can expect to have to wait for a download on launch day before you get to use your shiny new Xbox One X. I can tell you that the first update was 791MB, but because it cut out during the second update, I don’t know how big it was. In fact, after the second update completed (I left the Xbox One X on for a long time to ensure it had), I had to manually reset the resolution with console buttons to properly configure it.
Microsoft advises you to ensure there isn’t a disc in the drive. Hold down the power button for around five seconds until you hear a second beep. This is because Xbox Ones default to Instant On mode, where powering off puts the console into a low-power state, instead of being properly switched off. When it’s off, hold down the Xbox power button on the console and the eject button simultaneously. You want to hold these down until you hear a second beep, which takes around 10 seconds.
This boots the Xbox One X in (admittedly ugly) 640x480 resolution. At least it should show up a consistent image on your TV; it did for me. Your first stop to improve the ugliness is Settings, then Video output. Depending on the model of TV you have, these settings may differ slightly, but I set my TV resolution to 4K UHD, colour depth to ‘36 bits per pixel (12-bit)’, and colour space I left as ‘standard (recommended)’. I haven’t had a display problem with the Xbox One X since, or any other problem for that matter.
That’s it! As far as setup steps go, you’re ready to rumble. If you happened to not buy any games, your Xbox One X console should come with a 14-day Xbox Live Gold trial, so you can download some games from that. Otherwise, you can take advantage of the one-month Xbox Game Pass to download some games (again, mind the download quota). If you have any questions about Xbox One X configuration steps, or you’d like to know anything else specifically about the console, let me know in the comments below.