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Future games that show the true power of Xbox One X

After a year of ceding the powerhouse crown to Sony and the PlayStation 4 Pro, Microsoft has recaptured their claim with the final form of Project Scorpio: the Xbox One X. Featuring an incredible 6 teraflop processor, 12GB of RAM, and both 4K and HDR capability, the console is a monster in silicone form. But without the games, it's just a piece of plastic. Here are some games that make use of the full potential of the Xbox One X, from giant open-world expanses, to luscious 2D environments, to a bunch of blocks that mine for other blocks.

Metro Exodus

The latest game in the Metro series of post-apocalyptic shooters, Exodus finds players searching through the ruins of an irradiated Russia. The wide vistas and hauntingly beautiful, abandoned towns featured in the trailer provide an excellent showcase for the horsepower of the Xbox One X. Take a look at the light poking through the clouds and reflected in the water. The monsters, too, look to be rendered in exquisite detail, down to the individual hairs on the creatures. The trailer also displays a number of particulate effects occurring at once, such as the leaves blowing through the town while a door splinters and shatters. Throw it all together, and Metro Exodus looks like a key title in the new console's lineup. No wonder it kicked off Microsoft's E3 2017 press conference.

Sea of Thieves

Rare is one of the most beloved game studios in gaming history, with classics like Banjo-KazooieDonkey Kong Country, and GoldenEye 007 to its name. So there's a lot of excitement building around its next family-friendly title, a multiplayer pirate escapade called Sea of Thieves. The game should be a grand old time on the high seas, full swashbuckling, treasure hunting, and even getting virtually drunk. Hey, it's better than drinking alone!

The art style is cartoony and stylized, but that won't stop it from being rendered in gorgeous 4K and HDR. And keep in mind, despite its deep Nintendo roots, Rare is now an internally-owned Microsoft studio. That means that they'll have an insider's access to the Xbox team, and they've had Xbox One X dev kits to play with since the first day they were available. Expect Rare to squeeze every last ounce of power out of the console. How pirate is that?

Playerunknown's Battlegrounds

Purveyor of brutal free-for-all combat and chicken dinners, Playerunknown's Battlegrounds has become a sensation before it's even officially been released. Still technically in Early Access on Steam, it's already eclipsed juggernaut MOBA Dota 2 as the most simultaneously-played game in the service's history. The key to its success is pure, unbridled tension: an enemy might be around any corner, or across any open space, while a single well-placed shot can knock you out of the game altogether. No respawns in this game.

Its surprise reveal for the Xbox One X came during Microsoft's E3 2017 press conference, which also demonstrated the higher-resolution textures and graphics that gamers can expect in the final release of the game. Beyond that, the dev team has stated that they want to try to get the game running at 60 frames-per-second on the super-powerful console. That said, they've clarified that on launch day, the title will only run at a respectable 30FPS. Given the sheer amount of work going into the world's fastest-growing game, however, don't be surprised if that framerate gets bumped up at a later date. Either way, the Xbox One X has already shown what a better-looking chicken dinner can look like. It's a winner-winner situation for everyone.

Minecraft Super Duper Graphics Pack

Quick: when you think of the absolute, most cutting-edge visual fidelity, what's the game that springs to mind? Minecraft, obviously! Or, not.

What started as a blocky idea in a Swedish man's head has grown into one of the most-played and best-selling digital entertainment products of all time. Now owned by Microsoft, Minecraft is a natural choice to champion the new console. Except… it's a bunch of blocks. You can literally run the game on a phone. You don't need the newest Xbox for this thing.

Enter the Super Duper Graphics Pack. Adding advanced lighting effects and far more detailed textures, the new graphics pack is a loving update to Minecraft's intentionally lo-fi look. While the game is, at the end of the day, still about blocky people moving blocks around, the sum total of the pack's updates makes the whole experience look vastly superior without sacrificing any of the charms that made it a hit in the first place.

Ori and the Will of the Wisps

Ori and the Blind Forest was a surprise when it released in 2015, an absolutely stunning ode to hand-drawn animation in the guise of a technically demanding 2D platformer. Aside from the pixel-perfect precision required of the player to progress through the dangerous environment, the art direction was filled with moody lighting, breathtaking backdrops, and lively animations. While 3D tends to get all of the attention from graphics afficionados, Ori proved that 2D still had life left in it.

So the sequel, Ori and the Will of the Wisps, has a lot of momentum behind it. Based on the trailer, the addition of the Xbox One X's horsepower has allowed Will of the Wisps to gain a lot more lighting and particle effects, plus even smoother and richer animations than before. The overall effect looks like a fairy tale come to life, while still preserving the art style that made the original such a beautiful place to explore.

Ashen

Ashen is an indie adventure game in which the player will explore a ruined world of eternal night, fighting monsters large and small as they journey onward. The art style keeps the polygon count intentionally low, lending Ashen a distinctive look that won't push the Xbox One X on its own. What could get the new system to flex its muscles is the game's deliberate use of lighting. According to the trailer, the entire experience will revolve around seeking out light sources in a land of neverending darkness. In turn, the player will be armed with a lantern, who's light shimmies and shakes as the player runs and ducks for cover. Add in complex shadows over surfaces in both small and large scales, and Ashen will push light itself from background art to main character. And all in 4K, no less.

Code Vein

Code Vein wears its anime influences on its sleeve, from its character design right down to its over-the-top spell effects. And its those spells that really make Code Vein stand out: weaving slick animations, particle effects, and lighting wizardry together in rapid succession, the game embraces a "more is more" philosophy that dovetails with the hardware of the Xbox One X nicely. From the trailer, attack animations appear to be following suit, emphasizing raw visual spectacle wherever possible. While details are sparse, Bandai Namco has promised that the title will be enhanced for the Xbox One X specifically. Which probably translates as, "even more is even more."

Conan Exiles

Even in Robert E. Howard's original stories, the character of Conan of Cimmeria — better known as Conan the Barbarian–traveled through vast landscapes of haunting beauty or spectacular desolation, whether burned underneath the heat of a desert sun or frozen at the top of mountain peaks. The new game from Funcom, Conan Exiles, is built around the idea of not only exploring, but surviving in the hostile world of the Hyborian Age. That makes rendering that world in the highest detail possible a top priority for the game's success.

To that end, Funcom has announced that Conan Exiles will be enhanced for the Xbox One X to take full use of its power. This will enable them to pump the resolution up from 900p all the way to 1440p, without a loss in framerate. Players on the Xbox One X will also be able to see farther into the environment, and in more detail, than their puny friends on punier consoles. What is best in life? To show off your environment draw distance, see them rendered before you, and hear the lamentation of your friends.

Far Cry 5

The latest in the Far Cry series of open-world shooters takes players to a dangerous, exotic land: America. Specifically, a corner of Montana that's been taken over by a fanatic religious sect. And in a way, Far Cry 5 weaves together all of the elements mentioned in previous entries on this list: it has vast, sweeping vistas; it has a huge number of AI characters acting simultaneously; and it has been enhanced for the Xbox One X specifically, over and beyond even the PlayStation 4 Pro. Coming from Ubisoft, one of the most established open-world producers on the planet, that means a lot.

Given the draw distances involved across open plains, and the level of graphical fidelity on display, Far Cry 5 is exactly the kind of game that traditionally suffers from framerate stutters, or is forced to drop resolution. If the team can really hit its stride on Xbox One X development, then the game will be a true showcase of what raw power can provide: a seamless experience of gorgeous visuals and deeply involving crowd interactions. Which was always the future that Microsoft promised.