Frame-rate boost for backward compatible games on Xbox Series consoles has begun with five initial games!

Playing previous generation video games on your Xbox Series X or Xbox Series S console is becoming a smoother experience as Team Xbox officially rolled out the FPS Boost enhancement for backward compatible games which gamers playing any of the five initial games – Far Cry 4, New Super Lucky’s Tale, Sniper Elite 4, UFC 4, and Watch Dogs 2 – can benefit from.

On Xbox.com, Senior Program Manager Paul Eng made the official announcement dated February 17, 2021. Below is an excerpt from the said article…

As we detailed in October, with the increased CPU, GPU and memory from our new consoles, all of your existing games look and play better. With certain titles, we can make the experience even better, all with no work required by the developer, and no update needed by the gamer. To that end, the backward compatibility team has developed FPS Boost, which employs a variety of new methods for nearly doubling (and in a few instances, quadrupling) the original framerate on select titles. Higher, steadier framerates make games visually smoother, resulting in more immersive gameplay. We partnered closely with developers to enhance the experience while maintaining the game’s original intent. And while not applicable to all games, these new techniques can push game engines to render more quickly for a buttery smooth experience beyond what the original game might have delivered due to the capabilities of the hardware at the time.

We’re excited to announce the first assortment of backward compatible titles that will support FPS Boost – available beginning today –  are Far Cry 4, New Super Lucky’s Tale, Sniper Elite 4, UFC 4, and Watch Dogs 2. We chose this initial collection of titles not only because they are popular among fans, but to highlight several different ways that FPS Boost can improve your experience. For example, New Super Lucky’s Tale can now run up to 120 frames per second (fps) and UFC 4 delivers improved framerate performance specifically on Xbox Series S and can now run at 60fps.

This is just the beginning. We will announce and release more titles featuring FPS Boost soon, as well roll out new menu icons and system settings in an upcoming system update. Starting this Spring, you can go into the “Manage Game” section for any title, where you’ll be presented with a new “Compatibility Options” button that will allow you to toggle FPS Boost (as well as Auto HDR) on or off. There will also be a new indicator informing you when a game is running with FPS Boost whenever you hit the Xbox Button on your controller. You decide how you want to play your favorite games, whether in its original form or with FPS Boost.

And FPS Boost doesn’t only benefit gamers who own these titles – you’ll be happy to hear that many of these upcoming FPS Boost games will be available in Xbox Game Pass.

As you can see in the above content, Team Xbox and its backward compatibility team are continuing to not only make as many past generation games playable on the Xbox Series consoles, but make the gameplay experience even better by means of improving the frame rates. With FPS Boost, the wholesome platform game New Super Lucky’s Tale can be played on Xbox Series S at more than three times higher than the frame rate of its Xbox One version. More than three times meaning up to 120 frames-per-second (120FPS) on the newer console!

And then there is another game from the initial five…Watch Dogs 2 from Ubisoft. I played and finished Watch Dogs 2 on my Xbox One back in early 2017 and while it was not great, it proved to be fun and satisfying enough. For the newcomers reading this, Watch Dogs 2 is an open-world game with San Francisco as its environment. To have that game upgraded to 60FPS is pretty impressive even though its resolution was not upgraded. Regardless of resolution, to have an open-world game run at sixty frames-per-second is a big achievement in itself. By today’s standards, 30FPS is no longer satisfying for me especially when it comes to open-world games.

As mentioned in the Xbox.com article, FPS Boost is just beginning and Team Xbox will reveal and release more games that will run with FPS Boost in the near future. I personally hope to see a variety of previous generation games run on Xbox Series consoles at 60FPS such as Lost Odyssey (the Final Fantasy game without the name), Saints Row 2 and Saints Row The Third to name a few.

It is great to see that Team Xbox continues to work hard to not only make backward compatible gaming even more accessible, but also justify all the investments gamers made with their collection of video games released on all Xbox console generations. That reminds me, this year 2021 will mark the 20th anniversary of Xbox itself.

In ending this, here are some selected YouTube videos related to FPS Boost for your learning and enjoyment. Colteastwood’s interview with Jason Ronald is a must-watch! Meanwhile, Zalker 87’s video is about a different yet highly relevant topic of discussion.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

Looking good on the way to Xbox Series consoles launch, Part 7

How fast time flies. The much-anticipated launching of the premium Xbox Series X and the budget-friendly Xbox Series S next-generation consoles from Microsoft will launch 9 days from now. Have you already ordered a unit? If you really want to make the jump to the next-generation with Xbox, keep looking at the legitimate online retailers who are open to accepting pre-orders.

Before the end of October, an article was posted at Xbox.com which confirms what has been speculated for some time now – the next-generation Xbox consoles indeed have AMD’s RDNA 2 technology complete with unique technological features.

For the newcomers reading this, RDNA 2 is defined as follows: The custom designed processor in the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S leverages RDNA 2, the latest next generation graphics architecture from our partners at AMD. RDNA 2 provides a significant advancement in performance and efficiency as well as next generation graphics features such as hardware accelerated raytracing and variable rate shading.

More on the article by Technical Fellow Andrew Goossen and Director of Program Management Jason Ronald, Team Xbox congratulated and celebrated their amazing partners at AMD with regards to the announcement of Radeon RX 6000 Series of GPUs (graphics processing units) which use the RDNA 2 architecture. Microsoft and AMD’s business relationship has lasted fifteen long years and it started with the Xbox 360 console which was a very memorable, fun-led console I had.

For the next-generation of console gaming, Microsoft and AMD’s strategic partnership is already making things look exciting. Here’s a big confirmation from the Xbox.com article: Xbox Series X|S are the only next-generation consoles with full hardware support for all the RDNA 2 capabilities AMD showcased today.

Here’s a detailed excerpt: AMD’s latest RDNA 2 architecture delivers a significant increase in performance and efficiency over previous architectures, as well as adding new hardware acceleration capabilities including hardware accelerated DirectX Raytracing, Mesh Shaders, Sampler Feedback and Variable Rate Shading. Hardware accelerated DirectX Raytracing, showcased at launch by titles such as Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs: Legion, enables developers to deliver a new level of visual fidelity and immersion through techniques such as realistic lighting, shadows, reflections and acoustics. Mesh Shaders can manipulate geometry in real time to provide a high level of fidelity and flexibility that developers have never had before. Sampler Feedback greatly improves memory efficiency by allowing games to load into memory, with fine granularity, only the portions of textures that the GPU needs for a scene, as it needs it, providing an effective 2.5x memory and bandwidth multiplier beyond the raw hardware capabilities. Sampler Feedback also enables efficient creation and shading of textures on-demand.

Finally, Variable Rate Shading (VRS) delivers much finer grain control on how developers can leverage the full power of the Xbox Series X|S by enabling developers to focus their GPU resources on the areas of a frame that most benefit without reducing the overall image quality. By leveraging techniques like VRS, games such as Gears 5 can see performance increases up to 15% and beyond resulting in higher, more consistent frame rates and resolution at the exact same image quality. All of these next-generation capabilities are available via hardware in both the Xbox Series X and Series S and we are excited for them to also come to PC, providing a common set of features that developers can rely on when developing their games across console and PC.

At the very beginning of development of the Xbox Series X | S, we knew we were setting the foundation for the next decade of gaming innovation and performance across console, PC and cloud. To deliver on this vision we wanted to leverage the full capabilities of RDNA 2 in hardware from day one. Through close collaboration and partnership between Xbox and AMD, not only have we delivered on this promise, we have gone even further introducing additional next-generation innovation such as hardware accelerated Machine Learning capabilities for better NPC intelligence, more lifelike animation, and improved visual quality via techniques such as ML powered super resolution.

In our quest to put gamers and developers first we chose to wait for the most advanced technology from our partners at AMD before finalizing our architecture. Now, with the upcoming release of Xbox Series X|S and the new AMD Radeon RX 6000 Series  GPUs, developers have a common set of next-generation tools and performance capabilities that will empower them to deliver transformative gaming experiences across both console and PC.

Boom! The two Xbox Series consoles have the complete features of RDNA 2 technology. The wait that Team Xbox had to go through was worth it. In the years to come, the terms DirectX Raytracing, Mesh Shaders, Sampler Feedback and Variable Rate Shading will be more discussed as game designers create more of their projects for Xbox Series S, Xbox Series X and Windows 10 PCs equipped with RDNA 2-based GPUs.

To make things clear to everyone, here are the definitions:

Hardware Accelerated DirectX Raytracing (DXR) – From improved lighting, shadows and reflections as well as more realistic acoustics and spatial audio, raytracing enables developers to create more physically accurate worlds. For the very first time in a game console, Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S include support for high performance, hardware accelerated raytracing. Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S use a custom-designed GPU leveraging the latest innovation from our partners at AMD and built in collaboration with the same team who developed DirectX Raytracing. Developers will be able to deliver incredibly immersive visual and audio experiences using the same techniques on PC and beyond.

Mesh Shading – Mesh shading will enable developers to dramatically improve the performance and image quality when rendering a substantial number of complex objects in a scene. As an example, mesh shaders could enable the player to experience asteroid belts and fields of flowers in more pristine detail without seeing a loss in performance.

Sampler Feedback Streaming (SFS) – A component of the Xbox Velocity Architecture, SFS is a feature of the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S hardware that allows games to load into memory, with fine granularity, only the portions of textures that the GPU needs for a scene, as it needs it. This enables far better memory utilization for textures, which is important given that every 4K texture consumes 8MB of memory. Because it avoids the wastage of loading into memory the portions of textures that are never needed, it is an effective 2.5x multiplier on average on both amount of physical memory and SSD performance.

Variable Rate Shading (VRS) – Variable Rate Shading increases GPU efficiency by concentrating shader work where it’s most needed and reducing shader work in areas where it won’t be noticeable. With minimal developer effort, VRS significantly improves GPU performance resulting in more stable and higher resolutions and frame rates with no perceptible loss in visual quality.

Remember when I mentioned many times before that Xbox is an ecosystem composed of Xbox game consoles, Windows 10 PC and smartphones (supported by Project xCloud) backed with the fast-growing Xbox Game Pass (XGP) subscription service? With all the technical information and explanations above, the strategic partnership between Microsoft and AMD is much greater than just hardware and features…it also serves as a foundation for supporting Xbox ecosystem users regardless of what hardware they use.

While it is a fact that AMD also partnered with Sony for the PlayStation 5 (PS5) consoles, so far the Japan-based corporation has not boldly stated anything about having full-featured RDNA 2 on their next-generation consoles. While we don’t know what exactly Jim Ryan and Mark Cerny know behind the scenes at PlayStation headquarters right now, it is clear that their team strongly focused on the PS5’s SSD (solid state drive) and tried to manipulate people into believing it is the next big thing. It seems like the PlayStation guys, whose idolaters are still restless and agonizing over the Xbox-Bethesda deal until now, just could not admit that the AMD technology PS5 has is actually inferior to what the Xbox Series consoles have.  

Going back to RDNA 2 and Xbox, Ubisoft recently presented Watch Dogs: Legion running on Xbox Series X with raytracing implemented. Watch the video below…

In ending this, here are more gaming-related videos for your viewing pleasure. Right now, the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S are the only next-generation consoles with full hardware support for all the RDNA 2 capabilities and that ensures great value in return for the respective $499 and $299 prices of the consoles.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

Looking good on the way to Xbox Series consoles launch, Part 3

I should say it out loud. I am a long-time Xbox gamer (and I was once a PlayStation fanboy until I started playing Halo: Combat Evolved, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and Forza Motorsport on the original Xbox console) and it is great that the next-generation Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X consoles will have backward compatibility right from the start.

Specifically, I started my Xbox journey (with an official Xbox LIVE account) in 2006 with the Xbox 360 console. I played lots of great games on that console such as Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Halo 3, Forza Motorsport 4, Lost Odyssey, Assassin’s Creed III, Grand Theft Auto V, Red Dead Redemption, Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and the Mass Effect trilogy just to name a few.

Even though the current 8th console generation was not too rosy for Xbox due to the weak 1st party game support on the part of Microsoft, I still enjoyed gaming on my Xbox One. The Outer Worlds was one of the best sci-fi RPGs I have ever played. Fallout 4 was just as engaging and as immersive Skyrim in my experience. Also I had great fun playing Red Dead Redemption 2.

That being said, I certainly do not want my past Xbox generation game collection – both physical media and digital copies – to just go to waste. This is why I really appreciate Team Xbox for implementing backward compatibility on the two Xbox Series consoles which will launch less than a month from now. I myself enjoyed replaying my favorite Xbox 360 games on my Xbox One  (a few among them were Red Dead Redemption, Lost Odyssey and the entire Mass Effect trilogy) and having the same feature for the next-generation is a very good thing!

On Xbox.com, Director of Program Management for Xbox Series X Jason Ronald explained the efforts their team made since the big breakthrough of 2015 plus other details about the tremendous addition of value backward compatibility brings to the Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X. Excerpt below:

Our compatibility journey began with the announcement of Xbox 360 Backwards Compatibility coming to Xbox One at E3 2015. I clearly remember that first magical experience of jumping into one of my favorite Xbox 360 games, Final Fantasy XIII, and instantly resuming where I had left off years before as if no time had passed at all. I was instantly transported back to that special time and all the great memories and personal connections I have made through gaming. The energy and passion from the community continues to motivate us to this day.

Through a tremendous amount of hard work, technical innovation, and partnership with the industry’s leading creators we were not only able to bring more than 500 Xbox 360 games to Xbox One, we were able to go back even further into the archives and resurrect some of your favorite franchises from the original Xbox. The very same team who created new innovative ways to preserve and enhance your existing catalog of games on Xbox One is the same team pushing the envelope again with Xbox Series X.

Maintaining compatibility presents a massive technical challenge as fundamental system and chip architectures advance across generations. Developers highly optimize their games to the unique capabilities and performance of a console to provide the best experience for their players. To make the Xbox Series X our most compatible console ever required both significant innovation in the design of the custom processor as well as the unique design of the Xbox operating system and hypervisor at the heart of our next generation platform.

With more than 100,000 hours of play testing already completed, thousands of games are already playable on Xbox Series X today, from the biggest blockbusters to cult classics and fan favorites. Many of us in Team Xbox play on the Xbox Series X daily as our primary console and switching between generations is seamless. By the time we launch this holiday, the team will have spent well over 200,000 hours ensuring your game library is ready for you to jump in immediately.

As seen in the paragraph right above, the 100,000 hours figure is very significant and it shows that no shortcuts were taken with regards to play testing and quality assurance. That figure is only rising and that is great dedication for not only Xbox fans with huge game collections but also consumers in general.

It should be noted that the more affordable Xbox Series S console will run backward compatibility a bit differently since it cannot render visuals in native 4K (it can however upscale in 4K). A September 14, 2020 update to Ronald’s article states:

the Xbox Series S runs the Xbox One S version of backward compatible games while applying improved texture filtering, higher and more consistent frame rates, faster load times and Auto HDR. As for next generation titles, Xbox Series S was designed to be the most affordable next generation console and play them at 1440P at 60fps.

The premium Xbox Series X console, unsurprisingly, has huge advantages for anyone who loves playing past games via backward compatibility. Enhanced visuals? Check! Improved frame rates? Check! Heavily reduced load times? Check! Much better performance? Check! Check out the excerpt below:

Not only should gamers be able to play all of these games from the past, but they should play better than ever before. Backwards compatible games run natively on the Xbox Series X hardware, running with the full power of the CPU, GPU and the SSD. No boost mode, no downclocking, the full power of the Xbox Series X for each and every backward compatible game. This means that all titles run at the peak performance that they were originally designed for, many times even higher performance than the games saw on their original launch platform, resulting in higher and more steady framerates and rendering at their maximum resolution and visual quality. Backwards compatible titles also see significant reductions in in-game load times from the massive leap in performance from our custom NVME SSD which powers the Xbox Velocity Architecture. As I play through my personal backlog as part of our internal testing, all of the incredible games from Xbox One and earlier play best on Xbox Series X.

The team was not content to just rely on the increased hardware performance to improve your playing experience. The team developed new platform level capabilities to ensure all of your games continue to get even better. In partnership with the Xbox Advanced Technology Group, Xbox Series X delivers a new, innovative HDR reconstruction technique which enables the platform to automatically add HDR support to games. As this technique is handled by the platform itself, it allows us to enable HDR with zero impact to the game’s performance and we can also apply it to Xbox 360 and original Xbox titles developed almost 20 years ago, well before the existence of HDR.

In addition, the new Quick Resume feature was designed to not only work with new games, but it can also be enabled for backward-compatible titles. Quick Resume enables players to resume exactly where they left off, across multiple titles, ensuring gamers can get right back to the fun in an instant.

Website Gaming Bolt recently published their own video explaining the so-called secrets of backward compatibility on Xbox Series X.

Going back to Jason Ronald’s article, it should be noted how dedicated their team is towards fans. The excerpt below:

Beginning with Xbox One X, the compatibility team developed brand new innovations that could be applied to a hand curated list of titles to enhance them even further than what was possible when they were first created. Techniques such as the Heutchy method, which enables titles to render with increased resolutions up to 4K, or applying anisotropic filtering to improve the final image quality bring these classic games up to modern standards, better than ever before.

With all of the additional power and advancements of the Xbox Series X, the compatibility team now has a veritable playground of new capabilities to innovate and push the limits of game preservation and enhancement. The compatibility team has invented brand new techniques that enable even more titles to run at higher resolutions and image quality while still respecting the artistic intent and vision of the original creators. We are also creating whole new classes of innovations including the ability to double the frame rate of a select set of titles from 30 fps to 60 fps or 60 fps to 120 fps.

The team also continues to listen to feedback from the community on additional titles you would like to see added to the compatibility program.

With the enhancements confirmed, check out Window Central Gaming’s comparative YouTube video of Monster Hunter World running on Xbox One X (currently the most powerful gaming console available) and Xbox Series X.

As of this writing, the backward compatibility feature on the Xbox Series consoles covers lots of titles of Xbox One, Xbox 360 and the original Xbox. What is expected not to be included are Kinect motion sensor games released on Xbox 360. On the side of PlayStation, PS5 is backward compatible with PS4 games only. Until now, Jim Ryan and Mark Cerny still have not figured out ways to make PS5 a compatible with the many, many games of PS1-PS2-PS3. Perhaps they never tried to do it at all, letting down their fans and consumers in general. It is weird because Sony used to be the shining example of video game backward compatibility starting with PlayStation 2 (PS2). Backward compatibility continued in the next generation with PS3 but only for the initial units. Subsequent PS3 consoles were made without the compatibility.

In ending this article, here are some more videos about Xbox Series X backward compatibility for your learning and enjoyment.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

For more Xbox-related stuff, check out the Xbox Series Philippines Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/XboxOnePH