This morning Xbox released a blogpost detailing more information on what the future holds, specifically going into details regarding current generation games that will be getting an upgrade on the Xbox Series X. These games will dawn a "Optimized for Series X" badge. These are games that were designed to take full advantage of everything the Xbox Series X has to offer. When a game is "Optimized for Series X", it means that developers either natively designed or fully rebuilt their games with the power of Series X in mind. This could mean a variety of different aspects of the game has been improved because of the power behind the console, such as:
Groundbreaking Visual Fidelity
One of the many new buzzwords that has been floating around the development cycle for games is ray tracing, a technique and tool that allows for a higher or more dynamic range of lighting and rending. Thank to the power of Microsoft's DirectX 12 Ultimate, games will be able to utilize ray tracing in new and dynamic way, such as the image below of a Minecraft world with and without ray tracing.
The image on the right side is standard Minecraft, whereas the image on the left is the same environment but with ray tracing enabled. This affects the lighting and rendering of shadows throughout the world, giving extra properties to water and even cast lighting and shadows to objects in far off distances to make everything feel natural. Minecraft is just one example of a simplistic game with a set art direction that can be improved to have a realistic sense of environment with the power of ray tracing. With these tools, developers can use Ray Tracing to make games such as Assassin's Creed more realistic, or true to life thanks to these dynamic rending options.
Higher Frame Rates
Throughout this past console generation we as an industry have started the gradual shift from standard 30 FPS to 60FPS. Not every game has reached that mark yet, not every game has to of course, but that is the way the industry is leading toward. The main factor holding back 60 standard FPS is performance. Current generation consoles struggle to lock a steady 60 FPS on graphically intense games such as Call of Duty. The recently released Call of Duty: Modern Warfare for example runs at 60 FPS on Xbox One X and PS4 Pro, however ranges between 30-60 FPS on original Xbox One and PS4 at a lower graphical resolution, typically averaging 50FPS at any given time.
These difference in frame rate can create a competitive edge when it comes to online multiplayer, as players with a higher frame rate have a slight advantage when it comes to playing. Not only that, but the various platforms also have a difference in graphical fidelity, with the Xbox One X being at 4K, PS4 Pro at 2760, PS4 at 1080 and Xbox one at 900. Since the game allows for cross-play, all of these players enter the same pool when it comes to online matchmaking should they opt into that. Thanks to the power of Xbox Series X, developers will be able to keep a locked frame rate at 60 FPS or go as high as 120 FPS should they choose without having to sacrifice graphic fidelity, creating a more even playing field when it comes to multiplayer environments.
Faster Load Times
This is something highly anticipated by the industry as a whole, as thanks to the power of the next generation consoles, load times will be reduced to almost instant in particular games that are designed around the consoles. PlayStation does this thanks to their advanced SSD, however on the Xbox side there is the Xbox Velocity Architecture, otherwise known as the XVA.
The XVA is a technique that combines the power of the custom build SSD, custom hardware within the console itself, and integrated software that all work together in unison to allow games to be processed faster than ever before. The XVA is able to streamline elements of the game increasing the processing performance to be faster and more advanced than that of what has been seen in current generation titles. Titles such as Gears 5 utilize this in a way that makes the game feel more responsive, and with almost no loading in between levels, environments, or menus. Everything from fast traveling to entering new areas loads in the background in a way it players will not notice. Early tech demos of Gears 5 on the Series X rivals that of high end PCs, and games will only continue to improve as developers spend time understanding and using the new architecture.
More details are still to come when it comes to the Xbox Series X, and how it will affect games to come, both currently announced and unannounced. For now though, the following is a list of games Microsoft has confirmed with all be Optimized for Xbox Series X.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
Bright Memory Infinite
Call of the Sea
Madden NFL 21
Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2
Yakuza: Like a Dragon