Monday, 28 Sep 2020

Next gen games upgrade will be as dramatic as 2D to 3D says Xbox boss

Phil Spencer claims that next gen graphics will see the biggest boost since the PlayStation 1 era, as he hints again of an imminent reveal.

For the last several video game generations, the law of diminishing returns has seen increasingly little improvement in graphics with each new console. The jump from the PlayStation 2 to 3 was far less extreme than between the PlayStation 1 and 2, and the difference between 3 and 4, while still obvious, has been even less marked.

The biggest leap of all was between the 2D graphics of the 16-bit Mega Drive and SNES and the 3D graphics of the PlayStation 1 and Nintendo 64, but that’s a one-time paradigm shift that is impossible to repeat – except according to Xbox boss Phil Spencer.

Responding to a tweet from a fan, asking about what difference things like ray-tracing would make in the next generation, Spencer answered by saying, ‘In my view the feel of games this upcoming generation will change as dramatically as any since 2D to 3D given CPU upgrade, DLI, memory bandwidth and SSD.’

Of course, Spencer is the head of Xbox so he’s hardly going to reply by saying that there won’t be much difference, but so far, and despite the new consoles being little more than six months away, we’ve seen almost zero examples of what to expect from the new machines.

The closest has been a very brief clip of Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2, which did look notably better than the original. Although whether it’s real gameplay, running on an Xbox Series X, is impossible to tell, and all console manufacturers have a long history of faking early footage before a generation starts.

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But rather than graphics simply looking more realistic some of the most notable changes may come from the SSD, which, in theory, gives developers much more freedom in how they design game worlds, as they have to worry less about hiding loading pauses and slowly transitioning to new areas. Something which PlayStation 5 architect Mark Cerny discussed in his recent technical overview.

Some have worried that SSDs don’t make that much of a difference on PCs, where they have been commonplace for years, but up till now games have not been made with them in mind. But with both the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X featuring them as standard that should change.

However, Microsoft’s insistence that it will not have any Xbox Series X exclusives for up to two years may have a limiting effect at first.

There’s still no clue as to when the Microsoft or Sony will reveal it’s next gen games but there have been repeated rumours that the Xbox Series X unveiling will take place in May, with Spencer also suggesting that the reveal will be ‘not too much of a wait’.

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