Xbox Series X|S performance boosts are a clean slate for gaming

The authenticity and fidelity of Red Dead Redemption 2 blew me away on the PS4. I had never experienced anything quite like it. Interwoven systems, emergent gameplay, idyllic landscapes – it felt like next-generation gaming had come a little early. But going back to it now, after buying an Xbox Series X, puts into perspective something that was sorely lacking at times on the PS4 and Xbox One – performance.

Microsoft’s newest console has been an utter treat in this department. Games new and old are performant and look incredible. This standard was touched on with the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X, but not nearly to the extent that the Xbox Series X|S have cleaned up performance.

Not all games have gotten the next-gen treatment. But by and large I’ve never had as great of a time diving into a back catalog as I have with my Xbox Series X. New titles have only upped the ante of performance and visuals.

FPS boost: what’s old is new

One of my more recent rewinds into older games has been with Skyrim Special Edition. On the Xbox Series X it boasts a new feature called FPS boost. Skyrim runs at 30 FPS on the Xbox One and Xbox One X, but the newest series of consoles doubles that to 60 FPS thanks to FPS boost.

Both the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S support the feature.

The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim Special Edition peaceful waterfall
Even after all these years, Skyrim looks incredible on the Xbox Series X.

FPS boost is just one slice of Microsoft’s unified push for backwards compatibility. It breathes new life into last generation games and makes experiences that much more enjoyable. I’ve had tons of fun poking around the Game Pass catalog in order to find titles that support the feature. Prey, one of my favorites from last generation, supports the feature, and I can’t wait to take advantage of lower latency and better fluidity when I inevitably revisit it.

Read more on Xbox: Does the Xbox Series X|S come with a USB-C cable?

Unfortunately, the Xbox One, Xbox One S, and Xbox One X do not support FPS boost. But I’ve found it to be an amazing bonus of upgrading to next-gen. It’s absolutely worth it if you’re someone who’s looking to play games from the Xbox One generation.

Topping up performance

FPS boost isn’t the only way the Xbox Series X makes performance a priority. A handful of games have gotten next gen patches. These patches, in some cases, have been transformative.

My time with Forza Horizon 4 and Destiny 2 has been a delicious taste of what’s to come. Both feel incredible to play compared to playing them on my Xbox One, PS4, and PC. They just feel so smooth. Neither are next-gen games, but they certainly play like it.

Destiny 2’s next-gen patch has been particularly game changing. I’d argue that playing at 60 FPS is a must. It elevates the smooth and satisfying combat to a place where it can fully be appreciated. Whether weaving my Sparrow or pulling a Nova Bomb in the Crucible, it’s hard to argue with the level of control I feel with Destiny 2’s boosted performance. Those with compatible TVs can even take it one step further by playing at 120 FPS in the Crucible.

porche driving in water forza horizon 4
Forza Horizon 4 nearly looks like a next-gen exclusive thanks to numerous enhancements.

Microsoft has also rolled over the enhancements of the Xbox One X into this generation. All performance boosts are automatically applied when installing a compatible title.

I haven’t found these boosts to be as game changing as next gen patches – and it makes sense, they’re rooted in last gen – but they prop up the gameplay experience all the same. Checking whether a title has Xbox One X enhancements is as simple as looking for an “Xbox One X” tag on the store page. The number of games supported is countless, as I’ve found when digging into the Game Pass catalog.

The best part about next gen patches and Xbox One X enhancements is that they will always be applied on the Xbox Series X. Microsoft makes it easy to see what you’re getting, and doubly so when it comes to enjoying boosts to performance and visuals.

Performance mode abound

TVs and monitors have been kicking things up the past few years. High refresh rate displays and variable refresh rate are more common than ever.

The concept of performance and solid FPS in games are finally latching on to the mainstream and I can’t remember a time when even casual gamers were so invested in framerate.

Although 120 FPS might seem overkill, the difference is a huge leap and even provides an advantage in competitive games.

And Microsoft has listened – performance mode in Xbox Series X games will offer both 120 FPS and Variable Refresh Rates (VRR). Both take console gaming to an unprecedented level comparable to what’s found on gaming PCs. I’ll never forget the first time I experienced a 144 Hz display. I was over a friend’s house watching him play Overwatch and Destiny 2. The sheer fluidity was almost surreal.

I had always assumed that anything above 60 FPS was overkill, but the experience sold me. And now, with games like Halo Infinite, Gears 5, Halo: The Master Chief Collection, and Destiny 2, the dream is alive and well for Xbox Series X players. It’s unlikely we’ll see full fidelity games at 4k running at 120 FPS, but it’s nothing short of a technical achievement nonetheless.

Apart from looking fantastic, doubling the framerate from 60 FPS lowers input lag and gives a competitive edge. VRR means that when performance does take a hit, it won’t look jarring. For fans of Xbox, performance has never looked so good. Even as we wait for next-gen exclusive titles, I’ve been having a blast enjoying all of the enhancements the Xbox team has brought to the table.

A stacked next-gen feature set

xbox series x|s performance features

To say that the Xbox Series X|S have great performance is a bit of an understatement. Both consoles keep things smooth and fast from all angles. Some of the most prominent features that change day to day gaming for the better include:

  • 120 FPS support
  • Performance modes for next-gen titles (Forza Horizon 5 is a prominent example)
  • Backwards compatibility performance benefits like FPS boost
  • Variable refresh rate (VRR)
  • Blazing fast loading times thanks to a custom NVMe drive (40x faster throughput than the Xbox One)

The Microsoft engineering team has done a killer job this generation at all stops. Where the Xbox One and PS4 lagged behind in performance standards, the Xbox Series X|S consoles have touched on everything from loading times to latency.

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