When Project Scorpio was revealed last year alongside Microsofts Play Anywhere initiative, I had mixed feelings about the ninth generation console(Yes, I think of it as an entirely new generation despite Microsofts statements to the contrary and its relationship with Xbox One.). On one hand it was going to be the most powerful home console on the market without question. The PlayStation 4 Pro couldn’t hold a candle to it as far as I was concerned and now that I have a PS4 Pro, I feel like the power gap will be very easy to see when Scorpio footage goes public because to me the Pro feels like an overclocked PS4, kind of like how the Wii was an overclocked GameCube except the Pro is beefier than that jump, if that makes sense.
It seemed like a must-have at first to replace my Xbox One which has a busted disc drive and of course to have the best experience possible with Xbox games, but then Microsoft announced the Xbox Play Anywhere initiative which saw Xbox IP’s head to PC. Forza Horizon 3, Gears of War 4, a truncated version of Halo 5. Now, Xbox IP’s had been coming to PC before, so this wasn’t actually anything new. Halo 1 and Halo 2 came to PC, Fable came to PC, Gears of War came to PC, and Quantum Break came to PC. Xbox Play Anywhere was just Microsoft pledging their support for the PC crowd so long as you bought Windows 10 and it came with the benefit of being able to take your save between systems and if you bought the game on one platform you would get it on the other free of charge. So it raised the question: Why buy an Xbox if you can get all the games on PC? And that was a question that got me until just recently. I’ve been an Xbox fan since the OG Xbox and Halo: Combat Evolved. Granted, I also own Nintendo and Sony platforms, but Xbox was my primary console up until this current generation where PC and PS4 became my go to’s with my Xbox One collecting more dust than my Wii U. So I questioned, with pretty much every Xbox IP also being released on PC, why would I want Scorpio? Well, Microsoft has now given me a pretty decent reason, two reasons actually, to get one.
Lets start with Xbox Game Pass. Microsoft has been building up the backwards compatibility catalog as well as their Xbox One catalog, but you have to rebuy a lot of those backwards compatibility titles if you don’t still own the disc or(in my case) if your disc drive is busted, and of course there are some games that just aren’t the full retail price of $60. Xbox Game Pass is Microsofts version of Netflix essentially. You pay $10 per month to get access to over 100 games that come from the Xbox 360 and Xbox One catalogs. Games from the Xbox 360 days, the seventh generation, have terrible PC ports most of the time making their console versions more appealing, and that’s only if they did get a PC port, a lot didn’t. And the fact is that more games will be added to this service over time and a few will rotate out every now and then. The big bonus of course is that if you have a Game Pass subscription, you get a discount on any game that is being offered by the service, and to clarify they’re all downloads, no streaming, this isn’t PlayStation Now. You can download and play them for as long as you have a valid subscription, but you can opt to buy them and have them permanently at a discounted price.
Granted, I could get this on my Xbox One, but it’s a reason for me to get Scorpio because there are games that I can only play through this Game Pass, through backwards compatibility, and Xbox One titles will likely get updated to take advantage of Scorpio’s better hardware. So for example, Halo 5. Yeah, the multiplayer is on PC, but the campaign isn’t. Sure, the campaign is crap by comparison to everything that came before it, but it looked good and it played great, and if they can make it look even better I’d consider giving it another run. Same with the Master Chief Collection. They could stabilize the framerate in the split-screen multiplayer and permanently raise Halo 2 Anniversary’s resolution to 1080p, or even bump all 5 campaigns to 4K(The MCC includes ODST, hence why I said 5 campaigns. 4K60 might be an issue though hence why stable 1080p is more likely.). I can’t get any of that on PC because those games aren’t on PC, or at least not entirely.
I realize that some of you may be too young to remember a time before online multiplayer, but I grew up on split-screen gaming, on couch co-op, and I remember what a blast it was to have someone actually sitting next to you and playing with you. Nowadays you’re just talking to the disembodied voice of your friend who lives three states over. It’s very impersonal and the online community has grown so anti-social. Who talks in lobbies anymore when given the opportunity? No one. Once upon that was how you made friends in online games, but now no one talks because everyone is either an a-hole or a little kid with a high-pitched voice, or maybe they don’t even speak your native tongue making verbal or even text communication pointless. Once upon a time none of that was a thing. You invited so friends over, handed them your extra controllers, the screen was split two, three, or four ways depending on how many players you had and sometimes the screen didn’t even split because you could fit all 4-players on a single screen, stuff like Fuzion Frenzy, Mario Party, Bomberman, etc. There is just an undeniable fun and personal connection that goes with split-screen. And of course split-screen also makes LAN parties easier because then you don’t need 16 televisions, 16 consoles, etc.
Recently it was stated by 343 Industries that all future Halo FPS titles would have split-screen and two-player couch co-op, no exceptions. This was in response to the backlash that Halo 5: Guardians received when split-screen was cut prior to release due both to budget/time constraints and performance issues. They had a 1080p60 bar that they wanted to hit and they wouldn’t compromise on it for split-screen multiplayer, so they cut it altogether. However, now they’re committing to that one feature that arguably made Halo the great game that it was. Once upon a time it was the go to game for parties and siblings could play together on the same system. While Halo 6's split-screen multiplayer may not be exclusive to Scorpio, it will inherently run better on Scorpio and it won’t be something you’ll get in a PC version because PC’s are, by their very nature, single-player machines.
I’m starting to see the benefits of owning Scorpio alongside my high-end PC. I’ll have to see the price first before I make any final decisions(Though if I get this job I’m applying for, paying for it will be easy.), but I can now safely say that I have no problem replacing my Xbox One with a Scorpio.