A year ago I purchased Xbox Series X after several months of using Series S. And all year I have been answering the questions why not PlayStation 5, what the situation with the payment for games in Ukraine is, and how it’s going with Game Pass. In this article I’m going to respond from the point of view of the person who has been using Xbox Series X and (spoiler!) I’m not going to stop. But so far, everything has not been so easy.
Xbox Series X: brief description
I guess the console after more than a year of successful sales does not require any additional presentation. I will just briefly go over the characteristics.
This is the flagship gaming console from Microsoft, equipped with an 8-core processor AMD Zen 2 and graphic processor RDNA 2, also from AMD. For games and applications, the user has 802 GB available on a very fast SSD drive. The console supports Ray-Tracing technology and resolutions up to 8K.
First of all, because I like the shape of the gamepad. As high-tech as the Dual Sense that comes with the PlayStation 5 is, it loses to the Xbox Series X/S Controller in terms of ergonomics. Of course, this is my opinion, but I’ve never liked the DualShock or Dual Sense, primarily because of the stick placement.
Recently I’ve had a good opportunity to compare the PlayStation 5 with my Xbox for a few weeks. And once again I was convinced that the shape and surface texture of Microsoft’s gamepad is more comfortable and enjoyable.
This is important because your eyes can get used to any interface, but it’s almost impossible to get used to an uncomfortable device.
However, this gamepad has some disadvantages. The biggest drawback for me is that it doesn’t charge with a cable when it’s out of the box. For that you need to buy a Microsoft branded battery which is pretty expensive, and then you can use the USB Type-C port on the gamepad. Or do as I did: buy removable batteries and a charger for them.
How to pay for games in Ukraine?
In a nutshell, the situation with payment is not obvious and is super inconvenient. Let me remind you that despite the official presence of Microsoft in Ukraine, the Xbox is not sold in our country. And the console knows neither the Ukrainian language nor such region as Ukraine. So we have to find the way out.
If you are using Xbox for the first time in Ukraine, with a little googling you will find a lot of recommendations to choose Argentina as a region for the console. That’s what I did.
When I started using the console a year ago, I created a Microsoft account in Argentina and tied a dollar card of a Ukrainian bank to it. As a payment address I gave a random address in Buenos Aires, and up to some point I could easily buy any game at the lowest prices in the Microsoft store.
The Argentinian account is the cheapest among the others for Xbox. There were no problems with Game Pass either.
At one point the store started displaying unknown error messages every time I tried to buy something. A search of the error code gave nothing, except occasional mentions of possible problems with the location.
Ukrainian forums and publishers suggested changing the payment information in this case. I did that… and nothing changed. Tried a lot of different cards of Ukrainian banks, in dollars or hryvnia. Even tried PayPal. But this didn’t help either.
The last option to buy games was to buy recharge certificates from the Microsoft Store. I bought one for $15, with no region attached, from Amazon’s online store. Unfortunately, that didn’t work either.
After that I decided to contact Microsoft support, ask what was wrong in a hope that I would at least get a refund. It turned out that the reason why the console did not accept the recharge certificate was exactly the physical location of the device in Ukraine, because the profile was registered in the U.S. (at that time I decided to change Argentina to the U.S. for the sake of experiment). Because of this discrepancy the payments were blocked.
When I asked what to do about it, support did not help much other than advice to use a VPN. After that, I got tired of it and continued to use the console with its main feature, which we will talk about next.
What about Game Pass?
It’s an interesting question, because despite not being able to buy games, the subscription fee for this subscription was charged monthly without any problems. This is probably the only reason why I haven’t sold my Xbox yet.
With Game Pass you have access to over a hundred games, including some very powerful titles like: Microsoft Flight Simulator, Forza Horizon 5, Gears 5 and many, many more. The list is regularly updated and I personally miss only Call of Duty. Basically, I can say that Game Pass is enough to enjoy the console without buying anything additionally.
What do I like?
First of all, it’s powerful and quick. The console starts instantly. Thanks to Quick Resume I continue to play without downloading 5-7 seconds after the start of the device.
I like Game Pass and the number of games in it. If you have a subscription, you will also have access to the Electronic Arts catalog. It’s not very big, but there’s a lot to play, too.
The Xbox Series X is a very quiet console. You can hear it only in a very quiet room . The cooling system is efficient and although the console becomes noticeably warm during gaming, it does not overheat.
We shouldn’t forget that Xbox is not only about the games. I constantly use the console as the TV for YouTube and Netflix.
What don’t you like?
First of all, it is the lack of official support and the ability to buy games without problems. However, the console itself is not to blame for this. It is unclear what really prevents the sale and support of Xbox in our country despite the fact that there are a lot of Ukrainian users and there would definitely be more of them.
For the last year there has already been information that Microsoft will launch Xbox in Ukraine officially, but taking into account the political news from the beginning of this year, it is unlikely that this will happen any time soon.
I do not like the slow adaptation of games to the console hardware and the need to sometimes choose between image quality and performance. For example, if you want to get maximum graphics in Forza Horizon 5, you will have to play at 30 frames a second. By choosing the Performance preset in the settings you will get the constant 60 frames per second without lags, but with slightly simplified graphics. Fortunately, it shows only in barely noticeable details. Microsoft Flight Simulator, unfortunately, is still running at 30 frames per second. Only 4A Games, which introduced last summer’s Metro Exodus update with 4K, 60 fps, and a noticeable Ray Tracing eye, made us happy. They can do it when they want to. Hopefully, things will improve in the future.
Among the minor drawbacks I would note the tendency to scratches. I think you have already noticed that my console has quite a few signs of use. This is due to the fact that from time to time I took the console to the office or to the country house. Still, I have to thank Microsoft for the complete absence of glossy plastic, unlike the PlayStation 5.
I almost forgot about not just a drawback, but rather a nuance. You will not be able to connect wireless gaming headphones easily. There is no simple access to Bluetooth in the console. You’ll have to make a song and dance with USB dongles, or immediately buy the branded Microsoft Xbox Wireless Headset.
I have been using them for half a year. They are easy to connect and the sound is great. If you are interested in these headphones review, please comment on this post.
Instead of conclusions: would I buy Xbox Series X again?
Yes. At a time when video cards cost a lot, but you still want to play, for me the Xbox is a very cool and relatively affordable thing for entertainment. Fast, powerful, handy, it’s all about the Series X. I very much hope for the emergence of official support in Ukraine, and meanwhile I will enjoy the Game Pass, because Xbox Series X is worth buying only for the sake of it. Would I change my Xbox for a PlayStation? No, not now or the year before. It would have been not only expensive, but also inconvenient.
P.S. After the publication of the article, the user under the nickname ZenOcean suggested a way around the problem with buying games. All you had to do was not to click “Buy” immediately, but go to the menu of card selection in your account and return to the purchase. That way, the payment goes through without any errors. I doubt this method will last, but for now it’s there, and it works.