Hands-on with the Xbox One X Gears 5 Limited Edition Bundle

One of the coolest things about gaming in 2019 is how seriously it is taken. And with that comes not only respect but fun celebrations of one of the most creative forms of entertainment around. The new Xbox One X Gears 5 Limited Edition Bundle ($499) is the first truly customized Xbox One X making it a bit of a hallmark. We managed to get our hands on one of them and while at its core it is still the same Xbox One X, on the outside, it's a gorgeous tribute to the new Gears 5 game.

This custom Gears 5 Xbox is not Microsoft's first rodeo with custom Xbox hardware commemorating Gears of War. One of my favorite Xbox One designs of all-time was the limited-edition blood-red Xbox One S from 2016. It launched alongside Gears of War 4 with a custom Xbox Elite Controller (sold separately).

For 2019, with Gears 5, it only makes sense for the game to get the same treatment but with the One X. After all, the One X and Gears 5 are 4K- and HDR-gaming capable so it makes sense to for it to get the best hardware.

Here is what you get with the Gears 5 Xbox One X console:

  • Xbox One X (1TB) limited-edition console.
  • Xbox One Controller featuring Kait Diaz.
  • Full-game download of Gears 5 Ultimate Edition.
  • Full-game downloads of Gears of War, Gears of War 2, Gears of War 3 and Gears of War: Judgment.
  • Month trial of Xbox Game Pass.
  • Month of Xbox Live Gold.

It's a bit disappointing that this package didn't come with any unlockable in-game content. The Kait Diaz controller, Gears 5 Seagate Drive, and Gears 5 Kait Diaz Limited Edition Charging Stand have either a free supply drop or character skin. It would have been wild to have an original, exclusive, rare item to show in-game that you have the ultimate Gears 5 tribute console.

The free Gears 5 Ultimate addition is a $70 value (the old Gears of War games are part of that bundle). But factoring that into the cost, you're still paying about an extra $20 for this Gears 5 Xbox due to the customized design.

Xbox One X Gears 5 Limited Edition Bundle design

Microsoft pulled no punches with this Gears 5 console. The company's description sums it up nicely:

A limited-edition console featuring a dark translucent casing that makes the Crimson Omen appear submerged in snow and ice, designed by Gears co-creator Rod Fergusson and the Xbox team…laser-etched cracks appear across the console's icy top surface and snow drifts across a Golden locust symbol on the back.

The Crimson Omen – the main symbol of the Gears of War franchise – is below the ice, but it's not some "use your imagination" design here. While it's hard to convey in pictures, the ice is actually a translucent layer with the Crimson Omen physically layered below it. It's an impressive effect, albeit one you will only see close up and at an angle.

Laser-etched cracks are one of the leading custom hardware changes Microsoft does with these products. With the limited-edition Gears of War 4 Xbox One S console and Elite Controller, those too had laser-etched claw marks, which looked (and felt) fantastic. The same here with the Gears 5 edition but instead of claw marks they represent cracks in the ice. The fact they are laser etched physically – instead of just a paint job – is one of those quality things you get here.

On the back (or bottom, depending on how you mount your consoles) is the Golden locust symbol. That symbol is revealed at the end of Gears of War 4 when Kait's mother gives it to her before her demise. The totem is part of the narrative for Gears 5, so it's a subtle nod to see it here as well.

Finally, one of the more subtle things Microsoft did that I am glad to see is a custom boot sound. The Gears of War 4 console did this too. When you turn on this Xbox One X instead of the typical Xbox boot audio clip it plays one from the game instead. While it's not a reason alone to buy this, it does serve as a daily reminder that you have a unique Xbox here.

Xbox One X Gears 5 Limited Edition Bundle final thoughts

This exclusive, limited-edition Xbox One X is strictly fan-service. Granted, it's a smidge more expensive, and it doesn't necessarily do anything else any other Xbox One X does (save for the sound and how cool it looks). But that's not the point.

When combined with optional accessories like the 2TB Gears 5 Seagate expansion drive, and charging stand for the included Kait Xbox One controller, you get a remarkable looking tribute to Gears 5. Luckily, the game has garnered some incredible reviews, so it's not like you buying into some bomb of a game either.

If you're a fan of Gears of War and have been yearning for some real 4K HDR gaming, this is the console to get. The tougher challenge is knowing that in late 2020, Microsoft will unveil its next generation console, "Xbox Scarlett." Where to put your money today versus tomorrow is always a hard choice, but down the road you could just put this sweet Gears 5 Xbox in another room. That's what I do.

Gears 5 review: An evolved formula brings home a big win for Xbox

Finally, if Gears 5 isn't your thing, there's little reason to think that Microsoft won't do something special for the next Halo game in 2020.

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central. He is also the head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007, when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and watches. He has been reviewing laptops since 2015 and is particularly fond of 2-in-1 convertibles, ARM processors, new form factors, and thin-and-light PCs. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.