The many ways Xbox Series X (and PS5) are improving developers’ next-gen work

Concrete examples by Gears 5, The Long Dark, Sniper Elite devs.

Next-Gen Won't Be a "Head-to-Head Bout" Between Xbox Series X and PS5, Says Microsoft

In an interview with Windows Central, several developers have provided their impressions about Xbox Series X and overall the incoming next generation of console gaming.

The interview is worth a read because it provides us with concrete examples of how the newest platforms will change the way developers work and will be empowered by the latest technology in games.

Joel Baker, The Long Dark technical director, shared that Xbox Series X will allow him to “simulate physically accurate weather and wind by sending some rays into the world and then having the audio and physics change dynamically based on where the snow is accumulating or melting” on Hinterland Games’ survival title.

Ray tracing, which is running on the next-gen Xbox through dedicated cores, has often been debated, but it doesn’t seem like fans have a clear idea about how it will change the way their games work. This is quite a good example of that.

Kevin Floyer-Lea, chief technology officer at Sniper Elite‘s Rebellion Software, added that the SSD will allow the developer to “support detailed motion capture on a much wider scale, like non-player characters simply doing their thing in the background.”

A concrete example of this is that now “instead of all enemy NPCs moving in an identical way […] the SSD storage speed means we can offer many unique motion-captured animations” on top of bigger worlds that load faster.

The SSD has been reported to be a point in favor of Sony’s PS5, as it has around double the raw throughput speed compared to Xbox Series X. However, it doesn’t look like Microsoft’s machine has a slow one, neither.

According to Mike Rayner, technical director at Gears 5‘s The Coalition, Sampler Feedback for Streaming (SFS) will make a huge difference when it comes to “world streaming and visual level of detail.”

This technology provided to Xbox developers will make it so that they can “increase the texture detail in our game beyond what we can fit into memory, as well as reduce load times further by increasing on-demand loading to just before we need it, instead of pre-loading everything up-front.”

Xbox Series X and PS5 are both releasing this Holiday. As for Microsoft’s platform, the Redmond publisher is not planning on delays even if some of its biggest launch titles, such as Halo Infinite, should have issues in respecting its deadlines due to COVID-19.