A number of games media websites published previews of Microsoft’s next-gen console on Monday but not NAG because I was, like, super busy this weekend and had to decline. I mean, I would’ve declined (because I was super busy this weekend) if I’d been asked, but maybe the email got stuck in the junk queue. And besides, I was super busy this weekend and I’m not even mad.
So. Um. Anyway.
I’ve sourced the most important info from The Verge, Engadget, VentureBeat, and IGN, and summarised it for your convenience. Also for my convenience, because I’ve got two of the things on pre-order and I can’t cancel now without the tedious chore of submitting a refund request and who has time for that. I don’t, because, you know, I’m super busy.
THE XBOX SERIES X IS FASTER THAN THE XBOX ONE X
Duh. Comparing game load times, VentureBeat clocked significant improvements with Final Fantasy XV (13 seconds on Xbox Series X versus over one minute on Xbox One X) and No Man’s Sky (30 seconds versus one minute and 19 seconds). The Verge compared Warframe (25 seconds versus 91 seconds) and The Outer Worlds (six seconds versus 27 seconds), among others.
Copying content from one drive to another shows the same improvements – in its test, VentureBeat moved the 49GB Assassin’s Creed Origins game file between multiple different drives:
External USB 3.0 SSD to internal SSD – 2:18.53
External USB 3.0 HDD to internal SSD – 7:46.03
Internal SSD to external SSD – 04:33.10
Internal SSD to external HDD – 10:36.78
With the console’s new quick resume function, according to Engadget, you can suspend supported games and swap from one to the next in five to 10 seconds.
There’s no hard cap on the number of games that can be suspended in quick resume, but there is a hardware-based limit. The console’s SSD contains a cache that stores system RAM for each game that’s suspended, and this can fill up, preventing additional titles from using the feature. So, the number of games will mainly depend on the memory usage of the titles you’re pausing. Microsoft hasn’t said how large the quick resume SSD cache is, but I’ve been able to cycle through five games at a time just fine.
And from power on, the Xbox Series X takes 10 seconds to boot up. The Xbox One X takes over a minute.
THAT 1TB IS MORE LIKE 800GB, ACTUALLY
The Xbox Series X’s system files use about 200GB, or 20 percent, of the space on the console’s internal SSD. Not a problem on the Xbox Series X, maybe, but what about the 512GB Xbox Series S? Unless the fun-sized console has a fun-sized OS to go with it, that could be a problem.
When the original Xbox One launched in 2013, most games were 10-20GB, with some like Ryse and Call of Duty: Ghosts bumping up at about 40GB. In 2020, a 40GB game is more or less average, and Gears of War 4 is up to 120GB. Assuming the same trend with Xbox Series X, expect a lot more games to exceed 100GB by mid-2021.
LET’S TALK ABOUT ORIENTATION, BABY
Vertical or horizontal, the Xbox Series X is up for it. Or down for it. Up first, then down? You decide.
BACKWARDS COMPATIBLE, NOW WITH 100% EXTRA MSG
At launch, the Xbox Series X will support over 1,000 backwards compatible games from previous Xbox generations, with new features like HDR, boosted frame rates, and even 4K resolution. As a result, The Verge explains, games feel “a lot smoother”.
Destiny 2 is a great example of a game that was held back by the weaker CPU and slow HDD in the Xbox One X. It’s a title that hit native 4K previously, but the 6 teraflops of GPU performance in the One X was bottlenecked by a laptop-like CPU and an old spinning hard disk. This meant the game was stuck on 30fps.
While Bungie has committed to enhancing Destiny 2 for the Xbox Series X and PS5 with 60fps support, it already feels faster without the patch. I would regularly notice frame rate drops in Destiny 2 on the Xbox One X when things got a little hectic on screen during a public event or in a raid with mobs of enemies coming at you. I haven’t seen a single stutter running Destiny 2 on the Xbox Series X.
Obviously, however, this depends on the game (and the Xbox model). No Man’s Sky, for example, was designed with a 30fps limit, and not even the Xbox Series X hardware can bypass a software restriction like that.
THE CONSOLE’S BOOT SEQUENCE IS ACCOMPANIED BY A DRAMATIC BUT SUBTLE ORCHESTRAL MOMENT
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