Xbox Series X | S's impressive FPS Boost technology - technical analysis

Xbox Series X | S's impressive FPS Boost technology - technical analysis

Microsoft recently raised the curtain on its new FPS Boost technology, a series of system tweaks that allow Xbox One games to run at double or even quadruple frame-rates on the new Series X and S. Far Cry 4, Watch Dogs. 2, UFC 4, Sniper Elite 4 and New Super Lucky's Tale are the first five titles to get support for this new feature: we have tried them all and are ready to reveal our thoughts on how transformative this technology can be.

Of course we have already seen a doubling of performance for older generation games running on new consoles. We've looked at Days Gone, Ghost of Tsushima, The Last Guardian and God of War on PlayStation 5 but there are also titles that run with unlocked frame-rates that can harness the extra power of new machines from Microsoft and Sony. The peculiarity of FPS Boost is that Microsoft's Xbox compatibility team is working to adjust the frame-rate limitations by operating on Direct3D. In essence, therefore, they are trying to improve performance within the system, without making changes to the original code.

Some time ago, the Xbox team promised it would offer gamers a way to double the performance of old games without having to change any kind of settings and that's exactly what FPS Boost does. All five titles we tested ran at 30fps on Xbox One S but now we see them operating at 60 frames per second on both Xbox Series. The one exception is New Super Lucky's Tale, a game that aimed at 4K at 60fps on Xbox One X and 1080p at 30fps on Xbox One S. In this case, the title was upgraded to 4K at 120fps on Series X and 1080p at 120fps on Series S. This is, therefore, four times the performance seen on older generation machines. There are no other changes to the games visually but the performance boost is absolutely tangible: platformers like Ori and the Will of The Wisps can run smoothly at 120fps on both Series. New Super Lucky's Tale is also on Game Pass and can be easily tested by anyone who wants to give it a chance.

Digital Foundry's John Linneman and Rich Leadbetter discuss their views on the top five Xbox titles to support the technology FPS Boost on Series range consoles.

Watch on YouTube. The overall choice of titles may seem a bit odd - we would have liked to see a true last-gen classic included in the line-up but there's still a lot to rejoice about. We had almost forgotten how good Far Cry 4 was at the time, a game that also performed pretty well on original Xbox One hardware, almost granite on its 30fps target. FPS Boost takes the experience to 60 frames per second, on both Series X and Series S. Since it has a few years on its back, Far Cry's fourth installment never received support for Xbox One X, hence the resolution it's limited to 1440x1080, but it's still a pretty good product thanks to its HRAA anti-aliasing (a primitive but still impressive form of temporal super-sampling). Regardless, 60fps feels incredibly stable and we haven't noticed any of the uncertainties plaguing the PC version. It's an experience worth revisiting.

Watch Dogs 2 is another interesting title to look into as doubling the performance is just the tip of the iceberg - FPS Boost offers so much more, actually. The second installment of this Ubisoft series ran on Xbox One S in 900p resolution, limited to 30fps. Unfortunately, it always had trouble maintaining that level of performance - frame-rate dips were common when on the move and in more intense scenes (like police chases, for example). Once again, on both Series X and S, the experience is totally locked at 60fps, even in the most hectic situations. This is another CPU-intensive title on PC but seems to work great on Microsoft's next-genes.

Sniper Elite 4 is also worth a look. Over the course of the same day we tested the game on Xbox One, PS4 and PS4 Pro and noticed how all versions ran at native 1080p, with Sony platforms displaying an unlocked frame-rate while Xbox One hitting a maximum of 30fps. Unfortunately, even reaching that goal could be problematic: Sniper Elite 4 often collapsed below the expected threshold with obvious tearing phenomena, especially during X-Ray kills. Running on a more powerful console via backwards compatibility alone would solve this problem but FPS Boost goes even further by removing the 30fps cap: now, both Series S and Series X offer stable gameplay at 1080p and 60fps. Interestingly, some of the heavier scenes and bloody X-Ray kills may push the S Series just below the 60fps threshold but the tearing is completely gone and the experience holds up very well overall. On Series X, however, the game moves flawlessly. Deprived of its technological limitations, Rebellion's work really shines: it's on Game Pass and it's worth checking out in its new incarnation.

Doubling the performance is a great prospect but New Super Lucky's Tale even manages to offer quadruple frame-rate on Xbox Series S compared to Xbox One S version. Most read now

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We still have to take a look at EA's UFC 4. Fighting games benefit greatly from higher performance, so we enjoyed the transition from 900p to 30fps with the occasional slowdown of Xbox One S to the stable 900p at 60fps of Xbox Series S. On Series X, however, things get even further interesting. In this case, the Electronic Arts title offers a choice similar to that seen on Xbox One X (1080p at 60fps or 1800p at 30fps respectively in Performance and Graphics modes) but, on Microsoft's new top of the range, Graphics mode also runs. at 1800p and 60fps. It's curious because it demonstrates that FPS Boost doesn't just double performance across the board but that the compatibility team can tweak the experience based on the needs of individual titles.

All these titles powered by FPS technology Boosts are already available to users of the new Xbox Series X | S and are really worth checking out as we suspect you, just like us, will be impressed with the improvements. If we were to point out a slight disappointment, it would be that three of the five games tested have never received updates for Xbox One X. The improvement, therefore, is only in performance and a low-resolution experience can become really glaring on Series X. Regardless of However, the performance boost for last generation games is a great thing, especially since developers are very unlikely to release update patches for their older products. FPS Boost also integrates seamlessly with Auto-HDR and can give your games a remarkable look - it's an experience we highly recommend you try.

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