The Xbox Series S isn’t a gaming powerhouse – that’s why...

The Xbox Series S is a strange console. At $ 299, it’s a pretty compelling machine for people who don’t want to drop nearly $ 500 on the Xbox Series X. From some of the specs we’ve heard of so far, it might not be much more powerful than the older Xbox One X.

Microsoft has been fairly optimistic that the Xbox Series S will be a 1440p slot machine that will upscale to 4K instead of rendering 4K natively, and deliver up to 120 frames per second in games like Gears 5. But now a number of developers have popped up and shed light on the shortcomings of the cheaper next-generation Xbox.

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds developers wrote a blog post detailing how PUBG runs at 60 fps on Xbox Series X and PS5 but 30 fps on Xbox Series S.

That might seem a bit bizarre as PUBG can run at 60 fps on the older Xbox One X. But there is a reason for this inequality.

“The Xbox Series X will use the Xbox One X game build. The game runs at 60 FPS by selecting the Framerate Priority option, ”explained the PUBG development team. “The Xbox Series S will use the Xbox One S game build, which runs at 30 fps. We are working on providing an option to increase the frame rate cap for Xbox One S and Xbox Series S consoles in the future. ”

This could be a disappointment to some people as playing shooting games at 60 fps gives players an edge over those at 30 fps. Softer frame rates make it easier to get a fatal headshot.

(Image credit: PUBG)

Xbox Series S.

Unfortunately, the Xbox Series S limitations don’t stop there. Devil May Cry 5 Special Edition developer Capcom tweeted a message explaining how the game would run on Xbox Series X and Series S at frame rates up to 120 fps. However, ray tracing support is not offered on the Series S.

This is understandable as the S series is much less powerful than the X series and ray tracing is a very sophisticated graphics rendering technique. If the game can run at 60 fps and use a 1440p rendered image upscaled to 4K, we could be looking at a reasonably strong presentation for Devil May Cry 5 – just not a version that keeps up with the Series X and PS5.

However, if there is no ray tracing in other S-series games, it could be a console that not only renders next-gen titles under 4K but also loses some of the most realistic graphics features. And that might make people wonder why they’d bother with a Series S when the One X can deliver pretty impressive 4K at 30 fps games, with the occasional game hitting 60 fps at 4K.

S for “so what?”

(Photo credit: Marshall Honorof / Future)

Playing at 60 frames per second has been seen as a must for PC gamers, and I can’t say that this results in an even more immersive gaming experience. But I’ve played a lot of games at 30 fps and they were fine.

God of War on PS4 is one of my all-time favorite games, and it runs at 30 fps with the occasional drop. But it still doesn’t mean I haven’t enjoyed every single throw and recall of the Leviathan ax. Same goes for Red Dead Redemption 2, which ran at 30 fps on my Xbox One X.

I’m sure that people who want to play at 60fps and I still lock myself in as one of them will go for the Xbox Series X. But there are some people out there who don’t care that much or want a game console as something that can be used on occasion for FIFA or Call of Duty, rather than doing lengthy Destiny 2 raids.

And I’m pretty sure a lot of people could just shrug if there isn’t ray tracing in some of the S Series games. Especially since some may not really be interested in absorbing great views of the open world while the dappled light is perfectly refracted from the lake surfaces.

And where a cheaper Xbox Seires S might be a boon for Microsoft: It offers a console for the causal gamers, with the X series taking care of the hardcore Xboxers.

Additionally, gaming at 4K is great if you have a 4K TV, but there are still a lot of people out there with 1080p TVs. A $ 500, 60fps, 4K slot machine is arguably excessive for them, and their setup may not really shed light on the limitations of the S.

S is for secondary

(Photo credit: Tom’s Guide)

I think another area where the Xbox Series S limitations can be overlooked is how can it serve as the perfect secondary Xbox console?

Granted, it can be an exaggeration for some people to spend $ 499 on the Series X, then another $ 299 on another next-gen Xbox. But some people love to gamble, and various Black Friday deals can make bargains on consoles.

As a result, I can see a lot of Xbox fans who have an Xbox Series X plugged into their main 4K TV and then plugged an Xbox Series S into a secondary TV or desktop monitor. I definitely like the latter setup. There are also some PS5 owners who are opting for a Series S for affordable access to exclusive Microsoft products.

And for people with large families, a cheaper replacement Xbox as a secondary device could prevent disputes between a parent, such as when one parent dumps their offspring off the main TV to watch a movie while the former is a mid-halo campaign. The clean sync between Xbox consoles allows the dispersed person to continue playing, albeit with slightly less crisp visual settings, from where they left off. A quiet family life could be worth the additional $ 299 investment.

S stands for ‘always on’

It might be easy to ditch the Xbox Series S as a low-power gaming console and deal with it. However, there’s a good chance that tweaks and other tweaks over time will allow developers to get more out of the Xbox Series S hardware than they could at launch.

We’ve seen developers get more out of PS4 and Xbox One hardware as the generation goes on. For an example, take a look at The Last of Us 2’s gorgeous graphics. And the clout of development Microsoft has could help game makers figure out how to get more performance out of the humble S Series, especially the developers under the Xbox Game Studios banner.

It looks like the Xbox Series S looks a lot like the weaker console on the Xbox Series X. But that can only be due to performance, as I’m quietly optimistic that the Xbox Series S will be an excellent next-gen console for the price.

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