The Xbox Series S is the lesser powerful small brother to the Series X. Even then, Microsoft doesn’t believe this to be a limiting factor for their devs.
In an interview, Xbox director of program management Jason Ronald detailed how the Xbox Series S will offer nearly the same experience. He cites that most of the parts in the all-digital platform are similar, but with scaled back visuals.
Microsoft cites similar hardware architecture in both Xbox units
According to Ronald, he believes that the CPU and fast SSD will offer the same experience to players. The only difference between either will be the scaled back graphics for the Series S.
“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.”
The Xbox Velocity Architecture is an interesting idea for game development. It refers to how the system uses the NVME SSD inside the console itself. By optimizing the system, it allows for faster, near inconspicuous, loading times.
If all the hype is true, Velocity can change how devs do level designs. In the past, devs create separate maps and use doors and portals to handwave loading screens. With an ultra-fast system, devs can then make games with almost zero loading.
In theory, no loading means devs don’t need to create delays to make assets load. No long elevator sequences, no long corridors, and no extensive idle times. These can create a seamless approach to a title’s entire experience.
“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 noted further. “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.”
Xbox Series S capable of 4K but the goal is 1440p
Ronald detailed further in the interview that the Xbox Series S can actually output a 4K signal. Even then, 1440p is the goal for the system, and devs are free to decide what native resolution they want.
“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 listed.
“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.”
What Microsoft is trying to communicate within this interview is clear: devs have a choice. The Xbox Series S is almost as capable as the Series X. Gamers should expect the same experience for both devices.
Images courtesy of Xbox/Youtube Screenshot