During Gamescom last week, Microsoft showed a significant number of games running on the new Xbox One X (See it on Amazon) hardware. New titles like Forza Motorsport 7 are looking superb on this half-step console, and older releases like Rise of the Tomb Raider are being jazzed up as well. So if what we’ve seen recently is representative of what we’ll get this November 7, will Microsoft’s new console be able to deliver on all of our hopes and dreams? Let’s dig in.
At the massive industry event in Cologne, the Digital Foundry team got to eyeball numerous existing titles that have been updated to take advantage of the X. Gears of War 4 is running at a native 4K, Titanfall 2’s dynamic resolution jumps from sub-4K all the way up to 6K, and a high-res version of Killer Instinct is an absolute knockout at 60fps. All in all, it’s a solid showing, but not all updates are created equal.
For example, the updated version of Quantum Break on offer can’t hit 4K, but it’s a substantial improvement from the 720p original release. The DF team believes it’s running in the ballpark of 1080p right now, but more analysis will need to be done to know with any certainty – especially with Remedy’s oddball rendering techniques in play.
Forza Motorsport 7
Historically, racing games have been considered something of a yard stick in which to judge a new platform. By combining objects we all know well with the break-neck speeds, they’re a good way to flex the metaphorical muscles. Unsurprisingly, Forza Motorsport 7 is one of Microsoft’s highlights for the Xbox One X.
Impressively, the latest installment in the long-running Turn 10 series delivers a locked 60fps at a native 4K resolution. And with dynamic weather on display as well, there’s no doubt that Forza 7 will delight racing enthusiasts when it’s released later this year.
Rise of the Tomb Raider
If you’re curious how third-party games on the Xbox One X will compare with versions on the Pro, Rise of the Tomb Raider is of particular interest here. It seems that there will indeed be a true 2160p30 mode on offer with improved textures, but Digital Foundry found that the demo actually uses a less intense depth of field implementation. But compared with the PS4 Pro version that relies on checkerboard rendering to hit 4K, it’s absolutely a noticeable change.
There’s two other modes on display as well: Enhanced and high frame rate. The enhanced mode adds extra visual effects, but relies on rendering tricks to reach 4K. On the Pro, the comparable mode was stuck at 1080p, so that’s a welcome bump. And the high frame rate mode? It seems that drops below 60fps have been ironed out in what’s been shown so far, but some of the most rigorous scenarios have yet to be tested.
Assassin’s Creed: Origins
Earlier this month, our sister site IGN was able to line up a whopping 18 minutes of footage showcasing Assassin’s Creed: Origins running on the new hardware. It’s undoubtedly the most visually appealing AssCreed game to date, but it won’t quite be able to hit as many checkboxes as other titles on the Xbox One X.
Based on current information, it seems that Ubisoft is using checkerboard rendering, a dynamic resolution, and a 30fps target. The image quality being shown here is nothing to shake a stick at, but it’s illustrative of just how difficult it can be to deliver native 4K resolutions and high frame rates — even on this powerful machine.
The Hard Sell
It’s abundantly clear that the Xbox One X will be the most powerful console on the market, but it’s still a tough sell in many ways. Sure, it has a faster CPU, much more RAM, and a substantially beefier GPU than the nearest competitor, but Microsoft is starting from a somewhat compromised position.
Sales wise, the Xbox One is only half that of the PS4 right now. Hard data is hard to come by, but some estimates put the Xbox One at about 30 million units sold compared with over 60 million on Sony’s side. The existing sales gap is much smaller within the limits of the United States, but the rest of the world has been hesitant to buy in. A more expensive model likely won’t turn the tables there.
And not only did the PS4 Pro launch a whole year ahead of the X, it did so at a significantly lower price. These days, it’s easy to find new Pros selling in the $ 370-$ 380 range, PS4 Slims for $ 270, and the Xbox One S for $ 250. To us, it’s not entirely clear if the Xbox One X will be worth the premium price. Sure, it’s hard to build a 4K-ready gaming PC at the $ 500 price point, and the Xbox One X is supposedly the “fastest-selling Xbox pre-order,” but the allure of both cheaper consoles and higher-end PCs seem to leave the Xbox One X in a tough spot.
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