As the current console generation wanes, graphics have gotten so good that Xbox boss Phil Spencer has had to explain that you’ll be able to “feel” the power of the Xbox Series X (opens in new tab) rather than see it.
Taking part in the Talking Games with Reggie and Harold podcast (opens in new tab), Spencer noted that it’s difficult to show how well games will run with faster, more stable frame rates on the Xbox Series X. Given how the coronavirus crisis has forced many physical game showcases to close, such as E3 2020 (opens in new tab), Spencer said it was “just impossible” to show the “fluidity” of the improved frame rates.
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“We’re getting to the point where the immersion feel that you get, the fluidity and other things, is now up to par with the visual capabilities that we have…how do you share that with people in this kind of world?” Spencer asked. He noted that the real step up from current-gen consoles won’t necessarily be a momentous leap in graphics, but rather an increase in how smoothly games will run and play.
"The feel relative to previous console generations will be something people remark positively about," he added.
Now, before PC gamers rush to the comments section and to sing the praises of gaming at 120 fps, it’s worth noting that many consoles have been stuck delivering games mostly around 30 fps for years. While Red Dead Redemption 2 (opens in new tab) could run at a native 4K on the Xbox One X (opens in new tab), it was still stuck at 30 fps. It wasn't the smoothest experience, but it was relatively stable.
That means if the Xbox Series X delivers performance of at least 60 fps, and potentially 120 fps in some games, it would deliver a marked jump in gaming experiences over the current-generation consoles. It could give Xbox fans a taste of what it might be like to game on a $1,000 PC rather than a black box with a few hundred bucks' worth of dated tech.
The limited game footage we’ve seen from the Xbox Series X looks impressive, but it's not exactly a vast jump over the Xbox One (opens in new tab). But ray-tracing illumination and faster frame rates are difficult to see in quick video clips, so we can certainly imagine that things will be better when seen the new console in person.
Plenty of boxes
Spencer also noted that despite the challenges of the coronavirus, Microsoft will have enough Xbox Series X units at launch to ensure that Xbox fans are not left disappointed come holiday 2020. And it seems like Microsoft has leaned from the rather rocky launch of the Xbox One:
“In our supply chain, we feel good about the hardware side. Feels like we'll be able to get enough units, and you know, we're pretty committed, as we've talked about to a worldwide launch, which regretfully we didn't do with Xbox One,” Spencer said. “You remember watching that from the Nintendo campus. It took us months and months to hit some of the incredibly important markets and worldwide launch is important to us.”
Furthermore, Spencer reiterated that the development of games for the Xbox Series X is “making progress”. But he did note that games that still need people to be physically present in development studios (motion capture artists, for example) have been put on hold.
Spencer also mentioned that “take-home kits” for the Xbox Series X testing are out in the wild with engineers. So while Microsoft has been working with challenges, it has also been overcoming them, and seems to be on track for delivering the Xbox Series X with a good slew of games at launch.
Microsoft will have to really nail the Xbox Series X launch, as Sony’s PS5 (opens in new tab) is shaping up to being an equally impressive next-generation games console. Sony has a major showcase event scheduled for June 3, so we will see what the PlayStation camp can come up with.