Boosting games for Xbox One X will be easy, but getting to 4K and 60FPS might not be

When a console manufacturer is getting ready to unleash a new system, making sure it has games is crucial. That’s no different when releasing an upgrade, but it’s a much tougher equation. Showing developers how easy it is to work with the new hardware is key to getting them to spend time and money on it. Microsoft has done just that, and we can glean some better ideas about the system’s power from what the company has said. Eurogamer‘s DigitalFoundry gathered and verified some benchmark information for the Xbox One X from various developer contacts and laid the information out for us.

What Microsoft has done is take a bunch of different titles of different genres, running at different resolutions, and running in different engines, and given them the most minimal of ports to get them running at 4K resolution on Xbox One X. No optimizations were made. DigitalFoundry notes that the Xbox One X is running an early version of it’s OS, and some Scorpio-specific features aren’t being used. The Xbox One X does away with the Xbox One’s weird ESRAM solution meant to bridge the gap between the older system’s slower RAM and modern games’ higher requirements, and no optimizations were made for that. So this really is a brute-force test of the hardware.

Microsoft offered up the following data, leaving the game titles out, but some of the information leads to very clear conclusions about which games were used.

Titles B and C are Forza Motorsport 7 and Gears of War 4, and title H is Star Wars Battlefront. No other games really fit the information Microsoft offered up. Title G seems to be Halo Wars 2, and Title A could very likely be ReCore. I’m guessing that Title E could be Fortniteand Title F Project Cars 2. The former is a showcase for Unreal Engine 4, while the other has frequently been a game of choice for console benchmarking. Things get murkier from there, though.

What the data gathered by DigitalFoundry shows is that, even with minimal effort, many Xbox One games can run at 4K on Xbox One X. But it also shows that many games will have to make use of tricks like dynamic resolution and checkerboard rendering. Dynamic resolution adjusts the rendering resolution of the game based on how much is going on to make sure it maintains its intended framerate, while checkerboard rendering renders a smaller image and upscales it. It looks nearly as good as a native 4K image, but is much easier for the console to process.

Forza Motorsport 7 is, as usual, a technical showcase for the system, improving in frame rate and GPU load when run on Xbox One X. Gears of War 4‘s frame rate and GPU load both improve, but the system isn’t getting even close to 60fps. Again, no optimizations have been made, so it’s tough to say how accurate that is regarding how it’ll run once fully patched. DigitalFoundry notes that Star Wars Battlefront runs at just 720p to achieve its visuals, so upscaling to 4K is even tougher on that game. It dorps below the 60 fps frame rate target, so it seems like we would see the game using dynamic resolution to give us a 4K image.

Microsoft says games should be able to get four times their resolution on Xbox One X without taking a performance hit. The overall numbers reflect this. 1080p games upscale to 4K just fine, while games that render at 900p or 720p struggle and drop frames at full 4K.

For many developers, this will mean that getting games running on Xbox One X will be a simple matter, while others have a bit more work ahead. Once they get used to the particulars of the Xbox One X, though, we should see games getting closer and closer to that 4K, 60FPS target. The ease of updating means we should see lots of games getting Xbox One X patches, and I’m looking forward to seeing how games look and play on the new hardware.