Xbox Series X: What Do Game Devs Think Of Microsoft's Next-Gen Console
Various Microsoft and third-party developers have spoken about the Xbox Series X and its improved hardware.
The Xbox Series X is set to usher in the next-generation of console gaming in just a few months--along with Sony's PlayStation 5. Microsoft has already shared plenty of details about its upcoming console, detailing the Xbox Series X's full specs, storage solutions, and more. To gain a better understanding of what this all means for game developers and architects, Windows Central spoke to Microsoft and various third-party game devs and asked them all about the Xbox Series X.
"As a game developer, one of the most exciting improvements that far exceeds expectations is the massive I/O improvements on Xbox Series X," explains Mike Rayner, Studio Technical Director at The Coalition. "In the current generation, as the fidelity and size of our worlds increased, we have seen download times and install sizes grow and increasing runtime I/O demands, which have made it challenging to maintain load-times expectations and meet world streaming demands without detail loss. The Xbox Series X has been holistically designed to directly address this challenge.
"With the Xbox Series X, out of the gate, we reduced our load-times by more than 4x without any code changes. With the new DirectStorage APIs and new hardware decompression, we can further improve I/O performance and reduce CPU overhead, both of which are essential to achieve fast loading." Microsoft has been toting the Xbox Series X's faster loading speeds, and it sounds like the console's new SSD and DirectStorage APIs are clearly having an effect on The Coalition's Gears 5 port.
Meanwhile, Kevin Floyer-Lea, Chief Technology Innovation Officer at Rebellion, is excited about the Xbox Series X hitting 4K 60 FPS as standard. "First and foremost, the Xbox Series X is a genuine and significant boost in performance from the Xbox One," they said. "We saw how important both frame-rate and resolution were with the previous generation, so it's so exciting to be able to deliver 4K gaming at 60 frames per second on a console."
Floyer-Lea also explained how the Xbox Series X's hardware-accelerated ray tracing helps the studio improve the gameplay in titles like Sniper Elite and Zombie Army. " Not only does it allow us to take players to environments that are that more realistic and dynamic, but ray tracing hardware can do more than just rendering! For example, we can do incredible things with the acoustics to enhance realism. Modeling realistic sound occlusion for AI's hearing in real-time, for example, is an incredibly useful feature for creating stealth games."
As we edge closer to the Xbox Series X's Holiday 2020 release window, Microsoft looks to be setting the stage for another reveal as it recently filed a new trademark application for the next-gen console, including what appears to be the console's logo. Xbox boss Phil Spencer also allayed fears that the Xbox Series X might be delayed, saying it remains on track for launch despite concerns about COVID-19. The factories in China are now ramping back up, he pointed out, and it's more likely that games would be delayed rather than hardware. Spencer also confirmed that Microsoft plans to release the Xbox Series X even if some of its games are delayed.
E3 2020 was officially canceled by the ESA last month due to COVID-19, but Spencer assured fans that there would still be Xbox Series X news as the company announced it will be hosting a digital event instead. The console's pricing, new game reveals, and more are expected at the event.