The Monday letters page cannot agree on the relative merits of the Xbox Series S, as one reader boasts of being the world’s best at Dave Mirra BMX 2.
To join in with the discussions yourself email [email protected]
The other way
I’ve seen a lot of debate over the Xbox Series S and its relative benefits over the last few days and… I can add absolutely nothing to it. I don’t know how powerful it really is and I certainly don’t know if it’s low enough to upset game makers. Although I am always fascinated by randos on the internet that seem to know better than the two developers that actually started the discussion.
But anyway, I thought I’d write in as my Christmas buying plans are going in the opposite direction as seemingly everyone else. Not just because I’m buying an Xbox Series X instead of an Xbox Series S but because I’m selling my gaming PC to do so.
Before you recoil in horror it is not a very powerful one and in fact the thought of buying another graphic card is essentially what made me decide to ditch the whole format. Yes, card prices are coming down, but I just want out of the rat race and would rather play on a system with its hardware set in stone.
The real reason I have a PC is not because of the greater graphical options but simply that the games are cheaper. Often 25% less than console even with AAA first party games. That’s great but what has piqued my interest is combining Game Pass with an Xbox Series X. Yes, I could’ve got PC Game Pass but this way I go back to the simplicity of the console and still get games for ‘free’ with my subscription.
I know the consensus seems to be the Xbox Series S is the best partner for that set-up but I’d rather have the more powerful machine and disc drive, so… sorry to rag on your again Xbox Series S. Anyway, that’s it. Not enough there to justify a Reader’s Feature but I thought it was interesting to point out that people migrate between all different kinds of formats all the time.
From all games with gameplay revealed, Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 will be the best-looking game upon release, at least from a graphical fidelity standpoint, ever, in my opinion.
A definite launch date hasn’t been revealed, but with two gameplay reveals at the last two The Game Awards events, it can’t be too far away.
The last gameplay trailer is a sight to behold.
Does Metro GC think a winter 2023 release is likely?
GC: There’s really no information to base an answer on. It seems perfect possible, given how long ago it was announced, but it’s certainly not guaranteed.
A question of power
I don’t buy into this theory the Xbox Series S is somehow holding the generation back. The architecture, components and feature set is the exact same as the more powerful Xbox Series X. The CPU and SSD are identical, albeit with a GPU which has less compute power. Is a less powerful GPU holding the generation back? I find that very hard to believe. So, is the lower system RAM and memory bandwidth at fault? But with lower graphical settings (shadows, etc.) and reduced resolution is that really hindering developers on a design level? The fact that Microsoft recently freed up more resources for system memory suggests they’ve had some pushback from developers and have reacted accordingly.
It was rather convenient the Gotham Knights developer chose to bring up the Xbox Series S when all the controversy surrounded the 30fps cap. Xbox Series S has proven to be more than capable of 60fps, even 120fps, and those games which have proven to be more demanding, we’ve had situations where Xbox Series S has been capped at 30fps with the premium consoles running at 60fps.
I accept the previous generation has been holding the current gen up because the CPUs were terrible. To suggest the Xbox Series S is only marginally more powerful than the previous gen is extremely disingenuous.
What I’m glad to see is the pushback from gamers against 30fps. I don’t know why developers even include the option on Xbox Series X/PlayStation 5? I assume they must have data on the graphical settings gamers are choosing. I’ve not been a fan of all these display options. If the game can’t do ray-tracing at 60fps, don’t bother with it. I don’t care if it doesn’t reach 4K resolution either. The 120fps mode is excessive, which for further reductions isn’t worth the trade-off in my view.
If a developer can show me a game which would only be possible on Xbox Series X/PlayStation 5 I’m all for it, because on a design level we’ve seen nothing new thus far. I just don’t believe that same game couldn’t exist at a lower graphical fidelity and in the worst case, framerate.
GC: What would lead it to hold things back, other than a less powerful GPU and less RAM and memory bandwidth? Anything more significant than that and it wouldn’t be able to run Xbox Series X games at all.
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Free the SSD
I’ve been watching YouTube late into the night due to a newborn baby. I came across a five-year-old video about SSD life expectancy. Due to the way they work they only have a limited amount of program/erase cycles, different depending on the model. To combat this the drives have to move the data around the drive to use all the bits of it evenly. To prolong the life of the drive you need to keep a large amount of space free on it to allow for this wear levelling. Samsung, for instance, recommended 10% be kept free.
So I was wondering if this is an issue for the current consoles that anyone has experienced? I’ve been keeping my Xbox Series S and it’s 98% full most of the time. Maybe I should be removing some games?
GC: That’s the first we’ve heard of this, but perhaps a reader knows if it’s a common concern.
I see that town
It’s a day that I never thought I’d see and an announcement, that I’d never hear in my lifetime. Silent Hill has indeed returned, in grand splendour. I’ve grown up over many years without having the privilege to play the first couple of games. My first journey was Silent Hill 2 on PC and then my disappointment began, when I booted up the HD Collection. But Konami somehow having an epiphany and reviving the franchise is every fan’s dream come true.
I’ve always loved the lore and the meaning behind the world and the overall story. The world hidden behind a foggy mist and laden with monstrous abominations is indeed a metaphor for grief and depression. Many horror stories rely on a repetitive trope, of an abandoned location or convenient infestation of aliens and other beings. But I’ve always seen Silent Hill as a haven for one struggling with the overbearing burden of deep sorrow.
If you look at Pyramid Head, he’s barely a living being but serves as the example of the mental state of protagonist James Sunderland from the second title. I’ve always seen him as an ally, because he dwells in Silent Hill but represents that harrowing sorrow of James. Silent Hill isn’t found on a local map search or a marked location on a short GPS search. It’s seen through your grief and depressive state. What sorrow burns through your soul is therefore pictured through a town drowning in mist and the darkness.
Silent Hill is more than a video game franchise and an intellectual property, it is that picture of depression and that metaphor brought to life.
No bronze medal
The game I think that I am probably best at is Dave Mirra BMX 2 on PlayStation 2. I loved the original on PS1 and continued with the sequel.
Myself and a few friends always took turns getting the highest run on the first course and it got to the point where I was just beating my best score, they had long given up.
I even sent in my score to Twin Galaxies and am top of the leaderboard (although there is only one other competitor!).
Maybe someone will read this, beat my score and the competition will resume.
A few games immediately sprang to mind for me, for last week’s Hot Topic. I was practically unbeatable at Pro Evolution Soccer 4 when I was at uni, and I was great at both multiplayer and single-player in GoldenEye 007 (earning all the cheats).
The one that stands out the most though is Sega Rally. My local arcade had a two-seater, and I had the top 10 times on both sides. No one could get close to me! It was extremely satisfying to see my name (and just my name) on the leaderboard on both sides of the cabinet when it was rolling through its attract mode.
I was great at stablemate Daytona USA as well, and Ridge Racer, but the combination of me, the Lancia Delta, and the Desert/Forest/Mountain/Lakeside tracks of Sega Rally were just unbeatable (although if I remember correctly the Lakeside track, as an ‘extra stage’, didn’t count towards the time).
I just clicked with that game as a kid. As a pure arcade racer, and for pulling off ridiculous yet incredibly accurate and well controlled powerslides and jumps, nothing has ever topped it for me.
These days, I rarely feel like I’ve truly ‘mastered’ a game, but equally I don’t feel like I’ve missed out after finishing a game to my satisfaction and then moving on. I mean, if I’ve completed all the optional combat challenges (like the Lynels) in Zelda: Breath Of The Wild, I don’t feel that I need to complete all the combat shrines as well – after all, after seeing the credits, how many Modest Tests of Strength do I really need to do?
I don’t know whether the way I use my Xbox Series S – as a second console for Game Pass only – is typical of other owners. I guess it’s impossible to know.
But if it is, as much as mandatory support is welcome, I do have a degree of sympathy for developers if they are indeed making compromises for their games to run on the Xbox Series S, knowing they’re less likely to see any significant returns for the effort.
A lack of understanding
I’d like to submit a response to your Reader’s Feature Microsoft needs to cancel the Xbox Series S to save this generation.
You had someone argue that the Xbox Series S is holding back this generation and needed to be cancelled. This not only showed a lack of understanding of game design but also about the differences between the Xbox Series S, the Xbox Series X, and the PlayStation 5.
An overly simplistic way of talking about game design is that what you can see on screen is done on the GPU, so quality of the animation, lighting, shadows, etc. Everything you cannot see is done on the CPU, so enemy AI, physics calculations, etc. A third component is the speed of the storage device, as this dictates how quickly you can load new areas and maps. Its why on the last generation you had loading screens or small animations to compensate for the hard drive and even a SSD, whereas on the PlayStation 5 you’ve got Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart instant world loading because of its NVME drive.
This is where we need to understand the difference or lack of between the Xbox Series S, Xbox Series X, and PlayStation 5. All three consoles share a near exact CPU and storage device. The Xbox Series S CPU runs at 3.6GHz compared to the Xbox Series X’s 3.8GHz and uses the exact same NVME storage device, which runs slightly slower than the PlayStation 5’s NVME device. The major difference is the GPU, which means you get the exact same game between all three consoles, the Xbox Series S just has a less detailed and smooth picture.
The PlayStation 5’s Ratchet & Clank: a Rift Apart is a perfect example of a next gen game ,as its use of portals in its gameplay can only be achieved by its NVME storage device. The same technology that is also used by the Xbox Series S console. So while Warner Bros. developers may say the Xbox Series S ‘runs like a potato’, the power of the console had no impact on the boring, derivative gameplay that Gotham Knights has been widely criticised for.
Nor did the Xbox Series S’s lack of GPU power stop the numerous devs with smaller teams and budgets, such as Dying Light 2’s Techland, from providing graphics options that allowed the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X to make the most of their potential.
The Xbox Series S isn’t holding back this generation, it’s developers not willing to look beyond making the screen look pretty that is holding everybody back.
Matthew Evans (MattEvansC3)
GC: We didn’t have them write anything; they wrote what they wanted. The feature was a response to multiple game developers voicing the same view.
After watching the absolutely fantastic footage of the Resident Evil 4 remake I can only assume that all the people who wrote in with negative Inbox letters, when the game was first announced (and before actually seeing anything) feel rather silly.
GC: We shared their concerns. The real question is why weren’t you worried?
Has Capcom said anything about Mercenaries mode in the Resident Evil 4 remake? If it has that as well, and the action is as good as you say, this could be game of the year material before it even starts.
GC: We don’t believe so, but we’d be shocked if it wasn’t included – even if it’s not at launch.
This week’s Hot Topic
Halloween is almost upon us, so for this weekend’s Inbox we want to know what’s the best ever survival horror game and what upcoming title has the best chance of beating.
Big budget horror games are rare but there’s suddenly a lot of them on the way, including remakes of Resident Evil 4, Dead Space, and Silent Hill 2, as well as The Callisto Protocol, Alan Wake 2, all the other Silent Hill games – plus many others.
Are you excited about the new releases, and do you think this will usher in a new era of successful horror games or is it just a blimp? If you’re not interested in any of the new games, what is it about your personal favourite that you enjoy so much?
E-mail your comments to: [email protected]
The small print
New Inbox updates appear every weekday morning, with special Hot Topic Inboxes at the weekend. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length and content.
You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word Reader’s Feature at any time via email or our Submit Stuff page, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.
You can also leave your comments below and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter.
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