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The Xbox One X makes a lot more sense in 2018

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Microsoft’s flagship console is coming into its own

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Xbox One X angle view of corner with power button Austin Pikulski/Vox Studios

The Xbox One X launched on Nov. 7, 2017, with a very simple sales pitch: Pay $499.99 for the most powerful console on the market, and enjoy 4K gaming the way it was meant to be seen. But this message was often ignored by Microsoft itself during this year’s E3, despite the PlayStation 4 Pro continuing to have problems displaying games in native 4K.

Raw computing power only means so much, it turns out. The PlayStation 4 Pro had a superior lineup of exclusive games, even if few of them could match the resolution and performance of games that took advantage of the Xbox One X. But this could be the season that the Xbox One X has its moment. It’s never been a better time to pick up Microsoft’s flagship system.

What has changed in the past year?

Red Dead Redemption 2 is going to be the best visual showpiece for the Xbox One X this year, and likely will remain so for some time. The game doesn’t just look a little better on the Xbox One X compared to the competition; the Xbox One X version is a significant upgrade from every other available version if you’re playing on a 4K display.

The hardware’s price is also coming down. Retailers are running a special where you can save $100 on the purchase of an Xbox One X if you buy it with Red Dead Redemption 2. That brings the total cost of the hardware down to as little as $399.99, not including the price of the game — a value that’s going to be hard to beat for the rest of the year.

But Amazon may have the best deal here: an Xbox One X bundled with Fallout 76 for only $399.99 if you purchase it with Red Dead Redemption 2. These specials are only good through Nov. 3, so unfortunately you don’t have a lot more time to take advantage of them. Other bundles or deals are sure to pop up before Black Friday, however.

The ability to play classic games in 4K is one of the most interesting, and sometimes under-discussed, features of the Xbox One X. The system currently provides the only way to play the first Red Dead Redemption in 4K, and doing so is absolutely worth your time. The list of Xbox One X-enhanced games that are backward-compatible isn’t huge — there are currently only 21 as of this writing — but there are some jewels in there, from the original Mirror’s Edge to Portal.

We’re also about to see a run on larger, 4K displays with HDR capabilities this year. While you don’t need a 4K television for an Xbox One X, the console doesn’t make a lot of sense without one. And the sales are going to be incredible.

“Just a year ago, a 65-inch set still seemed like a giant TV to a lot of people,” Consumer Reports writes. “But that screen size has become more common during the past 12 months. That’s why we’re expecting to see a lot of action on 65-inch 4K models with HDR this year, with this category possibly showing the biggest year-over-year percentage price drops.”

While Microsoft still can’t beat Sony’s lineup of exclusive games, the Xbox One X is beginning to make more sense as the place to play visually ambitious third-party games. The cost of the hardware is also dropping, as is the cost of the 4K display that brings it all together. The system’s ability to play last-gen games in 4K is also an advantage that Sony doesn’t seem interested in competing with.

The Xbox One X was a bit ahead of its time when it launched, but that time may have finally arrived.