The Xbox Series S is a lower powered console than the Xbox Series X, but Microsoft doesn’t think that will be a limiting factor for developers throughout the upcoming console generation. In an interview with IGN, Xbox director of program management Jason Ronald explained how the Series S’s powerful CPU and fast SSD will allow it to deliver the same game experience as the Series X, simply with scaled back visuals.
“The core capabilities are the same between the two consoles,” Ronald said. “Variable rate shading, DirectX Raytracing, the entire Xbox Velocity Architecture – we wanted to make sure those capabilities were there, but ultimately, it’s within the developer’s control to do what’s right for their individual game.”
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Xbox Velocity Architecture refers to the NVMe SSD inside both the Series X and Series S, which will allow for drastically faster load times on the new consoles. In theory, it’ll also change how developers can approach things like level design, as things like long corridors and unnecessary elevator rides will no longer be necessary to hide the long load times required of slower old-gen spinning-disk hard drives.
“The areas that usually create the biggest challenges for developers – things like CPU performance and I/O performance – those are the things that were really critically important to us to make sure that they were symmetrical across Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X, because those are the areas that are really going to unlock kind of that next level of game design and that transformative gaming experience,” Ronald said. “And then developers already are really good at being able to scale up and scale down on the visual quality as they see fit for their players.”
Ronald also confirmed that while the Series S will target 1440p resolution, the system is fully capable of outputting a 4K signal, and it will be up to game developers to decide what native resolution they want their games rendering at.
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“The way that we designed the developer environment was that a developer would ideally target 4K at 60 fps, up to a 120 fps on Xbox Series X, and then they could easily scale down to the Xbox Series S by reducing the rendering resolution to 1440p,” Ronald said. “But they’re not locked into that. So the developer can choose to use the power of the Xbox Series S in the way that they see fit. So in some cases they may choose to render at, say, 1080p, and then use the extra GPU headroom for things like better anti-aliasing or better graphical effects. On the other hand, the developer may choose to go after something like 120 fps, if that’s right for the title, and that might result in resolution tradeoffs.”
Developer choice will extend to things like ray tracing on the Series S as well. The system is capable of doing ray tracing, but it will be up to developers to decide if that’s how they want to use the available GPU power.
“In some cases with a lower resolution, they’ll be able to deliver the same ray tracing experience they have on Series X,” Ronald said, “and other cases, they may choose to disable that in order to turn on other effects that improve the overall experience.”
In other words, gamers should expect the same games, whether they’re playing on Series X or Series S, with resolution and graphical quality being the primary differentiation. Thankfully, that lower resolution will mean that game install sizes will be smaller on the Series S.
Xbox Series X and Series S pre-orders go live on September 22.
Source: IGN Video Games All