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Xbox Series X/S — Next Gen Consoles Coming November 2020

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8 hours ago, Angry the Clown said:

I didn't know Moon had fixed a lot of Will of the Wisps problems on the X (mentioned by John in the DF video). That's good news.

 

Oh, yes. You can read about my experience with the patch in the Ori and the Will of the Wisps thread along with my struggle to 100% complete my save file.

 

I beat the game before the patch had been released. I enjoyed it, but the performance issues and glitches did sour my opinion of it somewhat. Going back in once Moon had released the patch, I found it much more enjoyable.

 

This year, I’ve been trying to focus on games I haven’t played before, keeping the number of titles I’ve replayed to a minimum. I may make an exception for Ori and the Will of the Wisps though. I’m excited to play it again in its best form with perfect performance. When you get your Series X, I highly recommend it be one of the first games you download and boot up.

 

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It's often so difficult to track these things, or which third party titles run best on what console in the medium to long term, because after the initial examination videos we don't always see them go back to provide updates on what's changed (which is not a complaint about DF. It'd be a lot of work to do that, but I wish there was a writt en resource that keeps track of these things. I'm not aware of anything).  

 

I find this frustrating as well. Not every game is Rise of the Tomb Raider, which Digital Foundry examined a total of 16 times. I remember playing Gears of War: Judgment a few years ago on the Xbox One and having a good time with it. A short while later, I read up on some of Digital Foundry’s analysis of the early backward compatible titles for Xbox One. To my surprise, they described Judgement as, “Nearly unplayable due to severe performance drops[.]” I hadn’t noticed anything like that when I played the game, so I wondered what the hell happened. Was it there and I just didn’t notice it?

 

Later, I found out that Microsoft patched several of those early BC titles with performance improvements. In many cases, those games ended up running better than the original versions. But, to this day, that story at Eurogamer doesn’t reflect that. If I was just reading it now. I would think GoW:J and Halo Reach played terribly on Microsoft’s current console, when in fact they both run better than they ever did on Xbox 360.

 

Another example of this for me is Resident Evil 5 for PS4 and Xbox One. This release targeted 60fps on both consoles, but struggled to hit that mark whenever a bunch of enemies appeared on screen. After the enhanced consoles came out, I wanted to know if the extra power of those machines could resolve the performance issues, particularly on Xbox One X where I was most interested in playing it. Sadly, I couldn’t find any reporting on the issue from either Digital Foundry or anywhere else. It wasn’t until I took a leap of faith and bought the game myself (while it was on sale for $8 of course) that I was able to confirm — at least with my imperfect eyes — that the performance issues had been resolved on the Xbox One X thanks to the better hardware.

 

Please note, I’m not ripping on Digital Foundry here. They do good work, and I realize their resources are limited and that these analyses take time. I’m just lamenting the fact that they can’t do more on this front because of those limitations.

 

We now return you to your regularly scheduled next-gen discussion.

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So DF's latest video summarizes the issue I guess - they decided to use a dynamic lighting approach (as opposed to baked like most modern games). I guess we'll find out why they chose that approach (authoring/artist time as DF briefly suggests?) or are there actually time-of-day gameplay advantages (doubtful). In any case, the ray-tracing patch should serve as a benchmark of AMD's ray-tracing h/w in the new consoles.

 

 

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It would have to be global illumination based ray tracing to really have any impact wouldn't it? Could the console really pull that off in such huge environments at 4k/60? I have my doubts. 

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You could say that Digital Foundry video about Halo: Infinite’s “flat” lighting was... illuminating. 

 

Seriously though, it was one of the more interesting videos they’ve done in a while.

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Caught up with the video which helps answer my global illumination RTX concern (doable while retaining 60fps, but with a negligible bump down in native resolution. Fine).  I like Alex's videos a lot. I wonder how substantial a SeriesX patch 343 would be willing to do. The thought certainly does lessen my desire to boot the game up over the Christmas period.

 

On the subject of lower resolutions for games with demanding ray tracing applications, here's a relevant question. I've seen very little talk, none in fact (?), with regards to AMD's FidelityFX CAS on the next-gen consoles. Can it be applied? If so, is there a reason we're not hearing it discussed much because those Death Standing PC breakdowns using FidelityFX and DLSS seem very impressive, or is it a case that both Sony and Microsoft have their own approaches planned for such things related to machine learning and so on? 

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18 hours ago, Angry the Clown said:

It would have to be global illumination based ray tracing to really have any impact wouldn't it? Could the console really pull that off in such huge environments at 4k/60? I have my doubts. 

 Yeah I mean I don’t expect it to wow us, but should improve. 

 

it certainly don’t expect Unreal Engine 5 global illumination nice.

 

But that’s why I expect this to be a good benchmark of what the ray tracing H/W will be capable of in these consoles.

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49 minutes ago, AlbertA said:

 Yeah I mean I don’t expect it to wow us, but should improve. 

 

it certainly don’t expect Unreal Engine 5 global illumination nice.

 

That's what made me ask about whether the new consoles have machine learning super sampling techniques to potentially fall back on, because in that situation we could possibly have very high fidelity ray tracing/path tracing, 60fps and an upscaled image that's practically indistinguishable from native 4k. It's one aspect of the SeriesX architecture I still need to read up on.

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DirectML would appear to be behind Microsoft's own methodology for machine learning upscaling/sharpening. 

 

 

 

Still not sure if SeriesX (and PS5) would also have the option leverage FidelityFX CAS from the AMD chipset though.

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Possible alteration to future game artwork. Amazon Germany's box art for Halo Infinite now shows a Series X logo in the upper right corner:

 

81NiYPuDkCL._SL1500_.jpg

 

Seems rather slapdash to me. You've now got SeriesX mentioned three times on there.

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48 minutes ago, Angry the Clown said:

Possible alteration to future game artwork. Amazon Germany's box art for Halo Infinite now shows a Series X logo in the upper right corner:

 

81NiYPuDkCL._SL1500_.jpg

 

Seems rather slapdash to me. You've now got SeriesX mentioned three times on there.

 

So it is the same disc that works in the Xbox One and the Series X? I actually didn't realize that was how this would work. Given that, it makes sense that they have to be as explicit as possible on the packaging so people don't get confused. If they're gonna put that "Optimized" badge in the center, I don't think they need the one in the top right. The top right one is just noise. So it is neither good or bad.

 

The only confusing thing is that they list the consoles it works on, and then to the right, they list features that are only relevant to one of those consoles. If I have an Xbox One, and I'm playing Halo Infinite, am I really getting 4K, HDR, and Smart Delivery?

 

They should squeeze 4K/HDR into the "Optimized" badge. And if they're already telling me it is optimized for series X and works with series X, why do I care what "Smart Delivery" is or does. Does "Smart Delivery" communicate "you need an internet connection for this to be optimized for series X?" If that's the case, I guess it has meaning, even though all games sort of have Day 1 updates anyway, so I'm not sure that really means anything. Unless you're on a farm with no Internet playing this game with your chickens are like "WTF, I thought this was HDR!"

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21 minutes ago, foogledricks said:

 

So it is the same disc that works in the Xbox One and the Series X? I actually didn't realize that was how this would work.

 

 

It's the same for cross generation PS4 games with PS5 support, yeah. SeriesX only games, like PS5 only games, can use 66GB and 100GB capacity Blu-ray discs like UHD movies do if they want to, which XB1 S and XB1 X can support too of course, but the old VCR XB1 cannot so on that basis alone nobody could ever do a cross-gen Xbox game on a higher capacity disc.

 

21 minutes ago, foogledricks said:

 

Given that, it makes sense that they have to be as explicit as possible on the packaging so people don't get confused. If they're gonna put that "Optimized" badge in the center, I don't think they need the one in the top right. The top right one is just noise. So it is neither good or bad.

 

The only confusing thing is that they list the consoles it works on, and then to the right, they list features that are only relevant to one of those consoles. If I have an Xbox One, and I'm playing Halo Infinite, am I really getting 4K, HDR, and Smart Delivery?

 

They should squeeze 4K/HDR into the "Optimized" badge. And if they're already telling me it is optimized for series X and works with series X, why do I care what "Smart Delivery" is or does. Does "Smart Delivery" communicate "you need an internet connection for this to be optimized for series X?" If that's the case, I guess it has meaning, even though all games sort of have Day 1 updates anyway, so I'm not sure that really means anything. Unless you're on a farm with no Internet playing this game with your chickens are like "WTF, I thought this was HDR!"

 

I think that's the problem, the necessary information is too fragmented across the cover. 

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1 hour ago, Angry the Clown said:

I think that's the problem, the necessary information is too fragmented across the cover. 

 

Let's admit though that this is not an easy thing to communicate. I think it is a really cool thing that they're doing, it is just complicated to convey. 

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Do we know if it’s just one disc in the box? It could be possible for there to be two discs: one for the Xbox One and one for the Series X.

 

5 hours ago, foogledricks said:

The only confusing thing is that they list the consoles it works on, and then to the right, they list features that are only relevant to one of those consoles. If I have an Xbox One, and I'm playing Halo Infinite, am I really getting 4K, HDR, and Smart Delivery?

 

I think of these as being no different from the all the other logos you see on a video game box. They’re present to show what the game supports, but they don’t necessarily mean that you will get those features automatically. You need to have the right hardware to take advantage of all of them.

 

I remember that GameCube games would usually include a graphic  on the box if they supported progressive scan, but that didn’t mean squat if you didn’t have the correct TV, cables, or even the right GameCube (Nintendo dropped the output for component video cables after a couple years). The same goes for Dolby Digital or DTS 5.1 surround sound support. They may be included, but you don’t get them if you don’t have the gear for it.

 

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41 minutes ago, JFo said:

Do we know if it’s just one disc in the box? It could be possible for there to be two discs: one for the Xbox One and one for the Series X.

 

I'd be VERY surprised. I can't think why there'd need to be separate discs for cross-gen titles. 

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46 minutes ago, Angry the Clown said:

 

I'd be VERY surprised. I can't think why there'd need to be separate discs for cross-gen titles. 

 

Right, but are those Series X assets really on the disc? Or will you receive a message like "Some of this title's Series X enhancements will be enabled the next time this console has internet access." Followed by a 120 GB download.

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8 minutes ago, foogledricks said:

 

Right, but are those Series X assets really on the disc? Or will you receive a message like "Some of this title's Series X enhancements will be enabled the next time this console has internet access." Followed by a 120 GB download.

 

Probably a bit of both. We know there's a SeriesX patch coming at a later date (for ray tracing, but probably other elements too), so optimisation for the new system at launch could be relatively basic. 

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4 hours ago, foogledricks said:

 

Right, but are those Series X assets really on the disc? Or will you receive a message like "Some of this title's Series X enhancements will be enabled the next time this console has internet access." Followed by a 120 GB download.

 

You know, what’s on the actual disc matters so little these with all the patches and updates. I wouldn’t be surprised if it really was just a way of authenticating you own the game. If that’s the case, why bother? Just buy digital and be cool like me.

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How much does Game Pass go up to compensate is my first question?

 

But yes, playing for free online is very nice and would then allow them to line up PC and console in the same vein.

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1 hour ago, Angry the Clown said:

If true, there's still the massive question of where they expect to recoup the lost revenue over the next several years. 

 

Gamepass subs?  I fully expect that the push fort subscribers will be all-out to start with, and I'm still guessing that every seriesX console is going to come with a minimum of a month of free Ultimate.  I could see them going as high as 6-12 if they really wanted to boost the subscriber numbers, but 1-3 is probably more likely. 

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I don’t know. I will believe it when they announce it. Game pass is currently 10 million subscribers, but how many those are on the dollar deals? Gold I believe was around 40 million. That’s a lot of extra income to make up. And I can’t imagine they make the same margin off Gamepass that they did Gold. 

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Right. As great as it sounds, and as compelling a thought it is given Microsoft's image of having consumer friendly services, when you dig deeper it clashes with just how big of a revenue generator Gold is (and I had really underestimated just how big). Gamesindustry.biz just posted an article on Xbox's revenue falling flat, propped up by the service revenue. Given that they will, at best, be breaking even on next-gen hardware (but most likely selling SeriesX and Lockhart at a loss), it's difficult to imagine them cutting of a multi-billion dollar limb like Gold.

 

https://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2020-07-31-microsofts-full-year-gaming-revenues-nearly-flat-for-fiscal-2020

 

I wonder if what we will see however, as Halo Infinite's news may indicate, is first party titles (or perhaps more likely select first party titles) offering free online play, and that they will also drop the paywall on playing the likes of Fortnite online because I was surprised to discover recently that MS are the only ones locking F2P games behind an online sub, and that's really not a good look compared to the competition and, again, the perception of Microsoft offering value for their services. 

 

It's a risk to expect dropping Gold would increase Gamepass subs to the point where they can quickly make up the losses from losing Gold I think, particularly when you'd have to assume that in the short term MS would need to refund millions of customers currently under a Gold sub in some fashion.

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Maybe they think they will make up for it like other F2P companies do with in game cosmetic items , etc .  if the pay way is down for other F2P games as well, Microsoft will still get a cut of items bought via their system, and if more people play those, the more they get as well.

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