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Digital Foundry | Can Microsoft deliver next-gen experiences while still supporting Xbox One?

nib95

Member
Oct 28, 2017
12,154
Edit: Digital Foundry have added a new video too. Lots of really interesting points not mentioned in the article.


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Doesn't really appear conclusive, but it seems John from Digital Foundry has ideas on how Microsoft might scale things down for the Xbox One versions of next gen games, as well as concerns about areas where it might be more difficult, resulting in a potential limiting of options, or things potentially needing to be cut back.



In Theory: Can Microsoft deliver next-gen experiences while still supporting Xbox One?

With no Series X exclusives at launch, what should we expect from first-party cross-gen games?

Digital Foundry | Can Microsoft deliver next-gen experiences while still supporting Xbox One?

Some quotes. Click the link above for the full article.

Digital Foundry said:
Ridge Racer, Halo, Super Mario 64. Some might say that the most impactful console launches were those where cutting edge hardware was matched with gaming experiences we'd never seen before - titles that set the stage and the expectation level for the generation to come.

Even if a specific next-gen platform exclusive wasn't an all-time great, experiences that pushed the technological state of the art still held a special place in our hearts - games like Ryse: Son of Rome or Killzone Shadowfall, for example. However, Microsoft is charting a different course with its Xbox Series X strategy. Yes, there will be first-party exclusives but these titles will still run on existing Xbox One hardware. Nobody will be left behind in the inevitable cross-gen period - but does this mean that the pioneering next-gen spirit is gone?
Digital Foundry said:
I'd say that there are definite routes forward for developers to take. A Series X title could target 60 frames per second (or higher in multiplayer modes) while the current-gen equivalents would run at 30fps instead. The advantages in lessening the GPU load are obvious but halving frame-rate also takes a lot of strain off the CPU: everything from world simulation to physics to animation would be much easier to handle. The process of creating draw calls - instructions from the CPU to the GPU - would also be lighter.
Digital Foundry said:
Lowering world detail may be a potential strategy in getting games designed for an SSD to run from a mechanical hard drive too - but as well as density of objects, the variety of them may well need to be cut back too. This is where I feel that the generational leap may cause some genuine issues.
Digital Foundry said:
It's a question only the developers can answer but supporting last-gen machines must surely limit options - and that effectively sums up the principal concern I have with Microsoft's strategy here. Additionally, we can't avoid the fact that the Xbox One S has sometimes struggled to deliver decent versions of current-gen games across the course of 2019, so just how is it going to cope with next-gen titles?
Digital Foundry said:
Ultimately, I have three questions outstanding. First of all, what will be missed by not having new Xbox games exclusively written for the capabilities of Series X? If PlayStation 5 has true exclusives, we should find out when the time is right. Secondly, assuming the cheaper four teraflop Navi-based Lockhart box is real and still coming, how will Halo Infinite on a prospective 'Series S' compare with the Xbox One X build? This may highlight just how potent the CPU and SSD truly are if GPU performance is broadly equivalent. And finally, just how much will developers need to cut back to get games designed primarily for next-gen running on Xbox One S?
 
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chandoog

Member
Oct 27, 2017
13,103
Cross Gen games have always existed, this seems like the first big case of a first party pulling them off.

Let's hope the results are better than Shadow of Mordor on PS3.
 

BAD

Member
Oct 25, 2017
6,075
USA
Not really. Games that have to run on base Xbox One are going to have limitations that mid and late gen games for only Series X won’t have.
 

Mack

Member
May 30, 2019
1,548
Still worried that Xbox One as a base config will limit the next-gen experience of games such as Halo Infinite. Time will tell.
 

Wandu

Member
Oct 27, 2017
1,846
Cross Gen games have always existed, this seems like the first big case of a first party pulling them off.

Let's hope the results are better than Shadow of Mordor on PS3.
While true, those Cross Gen games are usually made by separate teams, so they are essentially making two "versions" of one game instead of say just one "version" that scales between old 7 year old hardware to next gen.
 

Proven

Member
Oct 29, 2017
4,831
One thing I constantly see quoted incorrectly is the time frame of all of this.

The interview was done in November of 2019 and he said one or two years from now in reference to Xbox one support. Which means one or two years from November of 2019, not the XSX launch which is Late 2020. This article goes under the assumption that Hellblade 2 will be supported for Xbox one and I highly doubt that.
 

Bgamer90

Member
Oct 27, 2017
648
Multiple cross gen games after 2005 (HD era) were still viewed by many as feeling “next-gen” because the improvement on the newer console was big enough when compared to that console’s predecessor.

I don’t think things will be much different this time around (especially when comparing games to the 2013 base consoles). These games won’t be the best looking games of the console, but games that release during a console’s first two years rarely are anyway.

While true, those Cross Gen games are usually made by separate teams, so they are essentially making two "versions" of one game instead of say just one "version" that scales between old 7 year old hardware to next gen.
I would also say though that they had to be made by different teams because the builds of previous gen consoles were so different and thus took a lot of effort.

Things should be easier now though (PC-like builds of consoles from 2013 to present).
 
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Lobster Roll

Member
Sep 24, 2019
1,204
Chicago, IL
Consoles have always been computer-like since their inception, but console design is beginning to blur the lines between console and mid-tier PC gaming. The design of the Series X looks like a PC tower, oddly enough. They can absolutely continue to make games for both Xbox One and Series X. Xbox One will have low textures, low resolutions, low shadows, and barely surviving framerate settings. Series X will be the same games with everything turned way the hell up.
 

gofreak

Member
Oct 26, 2017
3,251
Consoles have always been computer-like since their inception, but console design is beginning to blur the lines between console and mid-tier PC gaming. The design of the Series X looks like a PC tower, oddly enough. They can absolutely continue to make games for both Xbox One and Series X. Xbox One will have low textures, low resolutions, low shadows, and barely surviving framerate settings. Series X will be the same games with everything turned way the hell up.
Scaling visuals is one thing - I think the bigger question being asked here is around the game state/simulation side. You'd have to be running things at pretty impossible framerates on the X1 to make the most of what the new gen could offer on that side of things (i.e. low single digits).

The 'impressiveness' of launch games is a function of so many things, not just hardware, that I wouldn't necessarily bet on things being clear-cut because of the inclusion of XB1 support in the first wave of games, in comparing next-gen only to cross gen games. It might make a big difference, it might not, we'll see. But I do think that the approach MS is taking delays more developers asking what the new CPUs and memory/storage hierarchies can do for games, which can only slow the transition away from Jaguar/HDD limitations somewhat, and slow the iteration and development of new techniques somewhat, vs a scenario where both first parties hit the gas on next-gen only games now. I think the (technical) state of the art would advance faster with more devs working sooner on next-gen only baselines. For the net effect on launch games themselves, though, we'll see.
 

Karak

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Oct 27, 2017
1,423
Can? For sure it's not even in question. Will they? Who knows. But someone on a dev team will. Even if it means a full remake/port change to the lower systems
 

tutomos

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Oct 27, 2017
932
We don't know what next-gen experiences are like right now but if MS wants XSX front and center they better make sure it can deliver.
 

BAD

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Oct 25, 2017
6,075
USA
But PC is the target for Halo Infinite.
They are developing it so that the game systems all play on Jaguar CPU and old RAM and old hard drives. They can’t do anything that won’t scale down that far. Games that don’t need an Xbox One version will absolutely be ditching limitations. The suggestion that they can just say “we targeted PC/Series X, everything will just port down without a thought” is not how it works and is not correct. There are essential components of a cross gen title that must work on the 2013 console - and as a result, the next gen versions don’t get to develop in a vacuum with no 2013 consoles.
 

Windu

Member
Oct 25, 2017
6,015
You will probably be able to count the number of titles that aren't crossgen on two hands. I'm sure Microsoft will do fine with their games, they are usually great when it comes to their game tech, whatever the actual quality of the gameplay.

Also, of all the places that I thought would mention why Microsoft is doing this didn't. No mention of xCloud. Its obvious that this is the reason for the holdup on next gen only games from Xbox Game Studios. The service uses Xbox Ones atm. They are not going to launch their brand new streaming service and go, oh and btw our biggest games of the year won't work with it.
 

Ricky Ricardo

Member
Oct 26, 2017
701
Atlanta, GA
We don't know what next-gen experiences are like right now but if MS wants XSX front and center they better make sure it can deliver.
I find it hard to believe that Team Xbox has gone through the trouble of convincing Big Man Sayta™ to front the bill for the seemingly high-spec Xbox Series X while expecting to draw in customers with, in essence, high resolution ports of Xbox One games.
Yes, Xbox's mission has shifted from just getting people to buy the box to getting people entrenched in their eco-system; but you don't build a "beastly" console to let it coast. At the very least, if they are targeting experiences like Hellblade 2 on XSX, we should expect them to be building towards fully leveraging XSX's potential.
 
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Jiraiya

Member
Oct 27, 2017
4,245
I just think it's far fetched to think Microsoft won't have some visual showpiece because of their strategy.

I can't be too fussed about it either because I've no idea what I'm missing out on.

Not to mention...I'm hopeful this means the series x can run many of these cross gen games with some outstanding Ray tracing.

I'm expecting forza to be one of the best looking titles launching on any system.
 

Tharp

Member
Oct 27, 2017
3,609
Something like Flight Simulator seems like an honest next gen experience, it's mind blowing every time I see it. But won't it also be coming out on current consoles? It doesn't seem held back if that's the case. But maybe Sony will show some next gen experience that'll be such a leap beyond Flight Simulator that it'll make the cross-gen games coming to Xbox look outdated. I guess time will tell.
 

Theorry

Member
Oct 27, 2017
24,074
Something like Flight Simulator seems like an honest next gen experience, it's mind blowing every time I see it. But won't it also be coming out on current consoles? It doesn't seem held back if that's the case. But maybe Sony will show some next gen experience that'll be such a leap beyond Flight Simulator that it'll make the cross-gen games coming to Xbox look outdated. I guess time will tell.
Its announced for Xbox One.
 

tutomos

Member
Oct 27, 2017
932
Something like Flight Simulator seems like an honest next gen experience, it's mind blowing every time I see it. But won't it also be coming out on current consoles? It doesn't seem held back if that's the case. But maybe Sony will show some next gen experience that'll be such a leap beyond Flight Simulator that it'll make the cross-gen games coming to Xbox look outdated. I guess time will tell.
If that's what next-gen starts with I'd be really disappointed. I'm expecting way better than that.
 

Ascenion

Member
Oct 25, 2017
3,373
Charlotte NC
Xbox One, Xbox One S and Xbox One S All Digital need to die to be honest. The One X should be the only system supported from this gen going forward. Like they said the One S struggles to handle shit now.
 

xxracerxx

Avenger
Oct 25, 2017
19,026
Xbox One, Xbox One S and Xbox One S All Digital need to die to be honest. The One X should be the only system supported from this gen going forward. Like they said the One S struggles to handle shit now.
I am somewhat in agreement with this. XBX is a killer system, but I get their reasoning for continuous support of the rest of the line.
 

panda-zebra

Member
Oct 28, 2017
1,804
Can? For sure it's not even in question. Will they? Who knows. But someone on a dev team will. Even if it means a full remake/port change to the lower systems
That's kinda the whole point of having scalable engines so you don't end up wasting time, money and resources doing that. It's why it's easier to work with the lowest spec and turn everything up to 11.

The xb1 version of games has to be at least serviceable as it's going to be on offer with xcloud, no point making a game that's going to be gimped hard on what might end up as being the biggest playerbase if things go to plan. Base up is the only way to go about this sensibly. Design a game around the ultra fast SSD, make novel use of RT hardware beyond simply shading pixels, and having CPU-intensive physics and AI, and you're not going to end up being able to port that down successfully, therefore wouldn't even consider those areas unless working on a Series-spec console exclusive. having a whole separate team produce an effectively different game just isn't going to happen. And the 1-2 years thing is vague for a reason - adoption rate of hardware beyond 1X will dictate when exclusives are viable.
 

nillapuddin

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,427
What if in order to play the new titles on an OG you have to stream them with xCloud?

That might be marketing suicide but I've never seen it brought up
 

Rion

Member
Oct 27, 2017
3,213
Halo Infinite wasn’t impressive at all to me.

Hellblade 2 made my jaw drop.

Says it all for me at least. I’ll be waiting until later in the gen to get a Series X if there’s few to no exclusives for the first couple of years.
 

Jeffram

Member
Oct 29, 2017
1,214
Xbox One, Xbox One S and Xbox One S All Digital need to die to be honest. The One X should be the only system supported from this gen going forward. Like they said the One S struggles to handle shit now.
The thing is it's the CPU that's the biggest hurdle. While X is incredibly performant from a GPU perspective, it's CPU is only marginally better than the Base Xbox One.

If Next gen ends up with 3.6Ghz clocks, they will be 7x better than the CPUs of this gen... And if someone wants to make a 30fps game next gen there's only so far culling will get you to bring your game up from sub 10fps performance.
 

Cyborg

Member
Oct 30, 2017
1,495
Why even bother with Xbox One and S. I always though XOX would be the baseline. We will see how it turns out
 

grosbard

Member
Oct 27, 2017
758
Microsoft just shot themselves in the foot. I don't know how much the rest of you know about console wars (I'm an expert), but first party non-cross gen exclusives are huge parts of it.