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Xbox Series X Facts Even Hardcore Gamers Missed

Ever since the Xbox Series X was revealed at the end of 2019, there has been a lot of speculation about how Microsoft's next-gen console will perform. Thankfully, Microsoft has provided a slow trickle of details about the tech specifications, game announcements and compatibility questions surrounding the highly anticipated new platform. Thanks to regular blog updates, Twitter comments and a large games showcase, gamers now have a pretty good idea of what to expect when the Series X arrives in Holiday 2020.


In fact, there have been so many rumor confirmations and surprise announcements that a few details have slipped past even the most dedicated Xbox enthusiasts. From specifics surrounding hardware capabilities to surprise sequel announcements and future plans for old Xbox hardware, there is a lot of overlooked information floating around out there.

Here are the Series X facts even hardcore gamers missed.

Series X games will support much higher refresh rates

The gap between the capabilities of PCs and consoles has thinned over the last decade. Hardcore gamers, however, have long lamented the slower frame rates seen on consoles. While PC players often get uncapped frame rates to support whatever their displays can handle, consoles have typically been locked to a default 60hz output, with many games running at 30 frames-per-second.


All of that changes with the Series X. The head of marketing for Xbox, Aaron Greenberg, tweeted that "60 fps will be the standard output, but the architecture allows for up to 120fps." This means the Xbox Series X will support displays with higher refresh rates — all the way up to 120hz. It doesn't necessarily mean, however, that every game will clock in at 120 frames-per-second, or even 60. Ubisoft confirmed as much when it announced that Assassin's Creed: Valhalla, for instance, will run at a minimum of 30 frames-per-second.

While not all Series X games will take advantage of this opportunity, support for higher refresh rates can make a huge difference in competitive shooters and racing games, where games with equally high frame rates will see less input lag and smoother on-screen movement.


Hardware decompression keeps file sizes smaller

The level of detail and information that go into high profile games today has translated into massive file size requirements. While the 1 TB of storage that will ship with the Series X can accommodate for a lot of data, games like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare take up over 180 GB of space after required updates. That kind of space requirements eats up a significant portion of the internal storage and means long install and load times.


To try and slow the tide of massive file sizes, the Series X will support compression technology to reduce the footprint of games on storage drives. Xbox director of program management Jason Ronald told GameSpot that hardware decompression "allows games to consume as little space as possible on the SSD." In addition, there are features provided by the Series X architecture to allow developers to only install assets that players need, as opposed to installing everything at once.

Smart Delivery includes cross-save

One of the highlights of the Series X's game delivery architecture is the introduction of Smart Delivery. Smart Delivery is a key part of Microsoft's push to encourage cross-platform gaming and essentially sells gamers a license to play a game on any Microsoft console. Not only will gamers have the ability to play these games at will on either their Xbox One or Series X, they will also receive the version of the game optimized for the system they are playing it on.


This means that if you purchase Halo Infinite to play on your Xbox One, the optimized and upgraded version will be ready to install on your Xbox Series X, should you buy one. For anyone who remembers having to buy multiple physical copies of their favorite game to play on different console generations, this is an incredible step forward.

However, the features of Smart Delivery don't end there. The system will also support cross-save, which means that any saved games, progress or Xbox Achievements made in one version of the game will transfer to other versions. So now, even though the two versions of the game are technically distinct products, gamers can pick up right where they left off on their previous console.


The Series X means the end of the Kinect

In an announcement about Microsoft's commitment to cross platform compatibility, Xbox head Phil Spencer proudly announced that all Xbox One games will be playable on the Series X — with one exception. Any Xbox One game built specifically for the Kinect will not be compatible, as the Series X will officially end support for the motion control accessory.


This news is not entirely unexpected, as the Kinect has been on life support for the last couple few years. The Kinect was popular for the Xbox 360 when it was first introduced in 2010, even setting records as the fastest selling consumer device of 2011. Unfortunately, it never established itself as a necessary device on the Xbox One, and Microsoft stopped manufacturing the product in 2017. While Microsoft briefly supported a Kinect Adapter to allow Xbox One S and Xbox One X users to continue using their Kinect with new consoles, that was also discontinued in 2018.

The Series X brings back several dormant franchises

The Series X will see the revival of franchises dormant for multiple hardware cycles. Three of the most anticipated are The Medium, Stalker 2 and Psychonauts 2.

Of these, the one you are least likely to recognize is The Medium, as it is an original title announced at the recent Microsoft Xbox showcase. However, Nintendo Life did some digging and found that developer Bloober Team has been working on the concept for almost 10 years. In fact, Nintendo Life even uncovered a promotional message that was sent to media outlets in 2012.


Stalker 2, a continuation of the open world survival horror franchise set in Chernobyl, was another surprise announcement at the games showcase. The last Stalker title, Stalker: Call of Pripyat, was released in 2009, although it didn't arrive on North American shelves until 2010.

Finally, Double Fine Productions is set to release Psychonauts 2, the long awaited sequel to the 2005 cult classic adventure game Psychonauts. However, the release date for this title has sadly slipped back to 2021.

Series X games may be more expensive

With every new generation of consoles, fans start to worry about the price of games going up. It looks like it may be finally happening. 2K Games was the first company to announce a Series X title that will not only be $70, but will be more expensive than the version for current generation consoles.


The game in question is NBA 2K21. The title will have the standard $60 price tag expected for new games on current generation systems. However, both the Series X and Playstation 5 versions of the game will cost $70, leading many to wonder if this will be the new standard pricing for next generation console titles.

There are a few other details to note about NBA 2K21. For starters, the game will not support Smart Delivery, meaning that anyone who purchases it for Xbox One console won't receive a free upgrade to the Series X edition. 2K Games also revealed a $100 version of the game titled NBA 2K21 Mamba Forever Edition, which will give players access to both versions at no extra cost. This pricing structure may indicate that NBA 2K21's high price is an outlier.


Microsoft may be winding down support for the Xbox One

The launch of the Series X could mean the eventual end of production for the Xbox One, as signaled by the discontinuation of key Xbox product lines. Microsoft announced in July 2020 that both the Xbox One X and Xbox One S All-Digital Edition would cease production, though the normal Xbox One S would is still available.


This decision is interesting because the Xbox One X was released in 2017, while the Xbox One S was around since 2016. The Xbox One X was billed as the new high-end version of the Xbox One, and was designed to support 4K gaming. Microsoft's top-of-the-line Xbox One didn't even make it to its third birthday.

The Xbox One S All-Digital Edition was also a newer product than the Xbox One S. It was released in April of 2019, and was a discless alternative to the standard Xbox One S. Perhaps the rumored Project Lockhart — which may be a less powerful, cheaper version of the Series X — has something to do with Microsoft cleaning up its Xbox One product line.

Sampler Feedback Streaming reduces load times

In addition to reducing file sizes for games on the Series X, Microsoft is also trying to reduce the long load times that have plagued performance intensive titles on the Xbox One. One of the ways the Series X plans to achieve this is through Sampler Feedback Streaming technology, which regulates texture memory usage by the GPU.


Essentially, Sampler Feedback Streaming helps games manage their texture loading more efficiently. As Microsoft explains in its announcement for the technology, game textures load into an environment with different levels of detail and resolution based on how far away a player is from an object. Sampler Feedback Streaming helps a game load only what it actually needs, increasing efficiency, decreasing load times and delivering a more seamless experience to the player.

The ultimate advantage to this, according to Microsoft, is that the Velocity Architecture will allow the Series X to perform at levels that surpass the hardware in the system. This should allow for better performance and an improved ability to keep pace with technological advancements in graphics and performance throughout the console's life cycle.


Outside storage has arrived

With the Xbox Series X, Microsoft promises the option of outside storage solutions to give gamers more flexibility with what they install on their consoles. For a while, it was unclear when fans would receive more news about the console's external storage. However, in the lead up to July 2020's Xbox games showcase, hardware manufacturer Seagate quietly launched the official website for its 1 TB Xbox Series X storage solution.


Seagate's Storage Expansion Card for the Series X promises to deliver a seamless experience alongside the internal SSD storage. The external storage device utilizes the same Velocity Architecture technology developed for the Series X platform to reduce load times and file sizes. The external drive will even allow gamers to utilize the console's Quick Resume feature, so players can instantly launch back into the titles they've played without missing a beat.

Unfortunately, the pricing for the external drive has yet to be announced.