A new video from Digital Foundry dropped detailing the specs behind some of the games on display at E3 this year on the Xbox One X. While Microsoft touted 4K resolutions for a lot of AAA titles due out later this year, next year, and for games already available on the Xbox One X, some early benchmarks reveal that not all of the games running on the Xbox One X will do so natively, and Microsoft’s system’s handicaps will be compensated for with checkerboard rendering, just like games that struggle to hit native 4K on the PS4 Pro.
According to Richard Leadbetter from Digital Foundry, games like Forza Motorsport 7 and Super Lucky’s Tale may have been running at native 4K, but other games such as Assassin’s Creed: Origins and BioWare’s third-person shooter, Anthem were rendering at a checkerboard resolution to reach an upscaled 4K output.
The 4K checkerboarding technique is oftentimes used in similar fashion to dynamic resolution scaling that’s found in other games such as Rainbow Six: Siege or Halo 5: Guardians. The technique relies on extrapolating pixel data to represent a sharpness and clarity that looks like 4K, but isn’t actually running at 3840 x 2160.
A low-tier version of checkerboarding was used for games like Killzone: Shadow Fall, where instead of running at a progressive 1920 x 1080, Guerrila was actually rendering the game on the PS4 at 960 x 1080 with temporal reprojected interlacing. This meant that the game was actually running at 1080i and not 1080p. Progressive scanning means that every single frame is as clean and sharp as the original image was intended to be displayed. Interlacing can help with performance and cut down on the load as each frame is buffered.
For newer games, Sony’s PS4 Pro has been utilizing a lot of checkerboard rendering because it just doesn’t have the gas to go full throttle with progressive rendering at 4K.
In the video Leadbetter reveals that the Xbox One X may be running into those same troubles for AAA titles, which is why they’re being limited to 4K at 30fps.
He also talks about some of the internal GPU benchmarks Microsoft revealed to a select few development studios to help give them an idea of where the performance status stands for the Xbox One X, but there was no word on if that was before or after optimization, or whether or not they would be working to improve performance before release. However, some of the games that ran at 720p at 60fps on the Xbox One were running at sub-30fps at 4K on the Xbox One X. Leadbetter presumes that it was a Frostbite game, which could be problematic for Microsoft if one of the top tier AAA engines has trouble scaling to 4K on their newest system.
We’ll have to wait to find out if certain games will be patched right proper for the Xbox One X’s release this fall to better support 4K, or if there’s going to be a repeat of problems like the PS4 Pro had with vanilla PS4 games running worse on the PS4 Pro than they did on the PS4.