While neither Microsoft or Sony have truly revealed their next gen games consoles, they’ve fired some early salvos in the next spec war. Both have committed to an AMD CPU and GPU combo with an SSD alongside, but what’s the point of it all? What’s the key target for the next generation?
There’s been word of ultra-fast loading times, or ray traced lighting and sound, but now Xbox boss Phil Spencer has set out Microsoft’s stall on what we can expect in terms of in-game performance on Project Scarlett: 4K at 60fps.
Speaking to Gamespot he said, “I think the area that we really want to focus on next generation is frame rate and playability of the games; ensuring that the games load incredibly fast, ensuring that the game is running at the highest frame rate possible. We’re also the Windows company, so we see the work that goes on [for] PC and the work that developers are doing.
“People love 60 frames-per-second games, so getting games to run at 4K 60 I think will be a real design goal for us.”
The past few generations of console have come with grand promises of ever higher fidelity, better gaming and wondrous new ways to play… but they’ve often fallen short. With the PlayStation 3 it was the dream of 1080p, only for 720p to become the norm (if that!), while this generation started with 1080p60 the stated aim, only for the Xbox One to fall short and all-too-often slide down to 900p.
Even with the enhanced PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One X, both companies talked up their 4K capabilities, but we’ve often seen developers compromise with lower resolutions combined with advanced upscaling solutions. Developers have also quite often included the option to choose between resolution and frame rate. It sounds like Microsoft want to make that decision moot.
What’s clear is that, while the early specs from both Microsoft and Sony mention 8K output and up to 120Hz at 4K, this is purely a technical possibility. The latest HDMI versions will allow for the consoles to reach such resolutions and frame rates, but it will be an extreme outlier for games in practice. It will also depend on the screen that you plug your console into. While 1080p at 120Hz is now fairly common in gaming monitors, TV screens are typically limited to 60Hz, regardless of the resolution.
We’ll know for certain what developers actually manage to achieve when Project Scarlett and PlayStation 5 arrive next year.
So, how does 4K 60fps gaming across the board sound to you? Is that enough of a step forward over the current high-end consoles? Let us know in the comments below.