The Xbox Series X Has 60 FPS As ‘Standard’, But It’s Not Guaranteed

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The Xbox Series X Has 60 FPS As ‘Standard’, But It’s Not Guaranteed
Screenshot: Ubisoft

After Ubisoft confirmed today that Assassin’s Creed Valhalla will run on the Xbox Series X at a minimum of only 30 frames-per-second, people are starting to wonder just exactly what they can expect from Microsoft’s new gaming console. The answer is not constant 60 fps gaming.

“Developers always have flexibility in how they use the power, so a standard or common 60 fps is not a mandate,” Xbox marketing chief Aaron Greenberg noted in tweet last night.

Greenberg was commenting on a discussion about Valhalla‘s performance on Microsoft’s upcoming console and what fans should expect overall. Valhalla was a logical discussion point. It was as the big third-party game shown at Microsoft’s Xbox Series X not-quite-gameplay reveal last week. In theory it should be a showpiece for what the console can do.

Meanwhile, Microsoft has been calling the Series X a “true generational leap in processing and graphics power.” So what gives?

At least part of the confusion can be sourced back to how Microsoft has been talking about what the Series X will be capable of and the way it’s been throwing around the word “standard.”

“With Xbox Series X, we will elevate the way games look, play and feel,” Xbox boss, Phil Spencer, wrote back in February when details about the hardware were revealed. “We will also remove the technical barriers faced in previous generations and enable developers to create more expansive, immersive gaming worlds that invite more players to play. From a technical standpoint, this will manifest as world-class visuals in 4K at 60FPS, with [the] possibility of up to 120FPS, including support for Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), and 8K capability.”

The same post also mentioned 60 fps being the “standard” output of the console, with 120 fps being the new upper limit for what upcoming games might target. Greenberg reinforced this idea last week as well writing on Twitter “60fps will be the standard output, but the architecture allows us to support up to 120fps.”

But elsewhere, Microsoft has been hedging, citing the understandable desire to give developers “creative control” over how their games appear on Series X. “The team knew they needed to build a next generation console that could run games in 4K at 60 fps with no compromises for developers,” Xbox communications manager Will Tuttle wrote in a March spec reveal. He continued:

“They also challenged themselves to deliver a level of performance once thought impossible on console, including support for up to 120 fps for the most demanding and competitive games. While they believe resolution and frame rate are creative decisions best left in the hands of title developers, the team wanted to ensure the system was able to support the needs of the largest blockbusters, competitive esports, and innovative independent creators.”

Gif: Microsoft

Jason Ronald, who’s leading development on the Series X, similarly left the door open to sub-60 fps rates in an interview with Eurogamer last week. “Ultimately, we view resolution and framerate as a creative decision,” he told the site. “Sometimes, from a pure gameplay aspect, 30 is the right creative decision they can make. But in previous generations, sometimes you had to sacrifice framerate for resolution. With this next generation, now it’s completely within the developers’ control. And even if you’re building a competitive game, or an esports game, or a twitch fighter or first-person shooter, 60 frames is not the ceiling anymore.”

This week Microsoft made it more clear that, while 60 fps might not be the ceiling anymore, it also won’t be the floor. “Ultimately, it is up to individual developers to determine how they leverage the power and speed of Xbox Series X,” the company told Verge reporter Tom Warren last night.

It’s not entirely shocking that this is where we’ve ended up. Hardware design and game development are full of tradeoffs, and this console generation has been full of games that opted for 30 fps because of things like visually demanding open worlds, or vice versa. It’s also possible that Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, as both a third-party game and a cross-gen one, isn’t a particularly good showpiece for what the Series X”or even the rival PlayStation 5″will be capable of in the long run. Games made exclusively for either next-gen console should provide a better measure of their capabilities.

The Valhalla footage recently shown only approximated the "expected" gameplay that will eventually appear on Xbox Series X. (Screenshot: Ubisoft)

In a statement to IGN, Ubisoft acknowledged the 30 fps minimum for Valhalla and emphasised using the Xbox Series X’s power for perks other than framerate, “leveraging not only the graphics enhancements offered by the next generation of consoles, but also faster loading times and the new architectures.”

While 60 fps has remained elusive for a number of games on console, it’s much more common on PC. Destiny 2 is locked at 30 fps even on the powerful Xbox One X, players with higher-end PCs between higher resolution and higher frame-rates.

It’s not clear yet whether Valhalla running at a “minimum” of 30 fps means there’s room for that to increase once the game comes out. Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag got an update increasing its resolution when it came out on launch consoles. Who knows how things will shake out with Valhalla once it actually ships. Since there’s no actual 60 fps “standard” on Series X though, it probably won’t be the only game running at a lower framerate.

Comments

  • Not surprised at all. A lot of games marketing is screen grabs, and your trade-off of graphical fidelity for fps doesn’t do so good there.

  • Is this not always going to be the issue though for static hardware that cant be upgraded? The higher you push yourself graphically, the more you have to sacrifice some other areas such as fps?

  • Consoles have been able to output 60fps since at least as far back as the N64 and im pretty sure we all had this conversation at the start of the last two console generations.

    Pencil in a cut and paste job for the next 3 generations. No console owner is ever going to stop certifying games that drop below 60fps so its always going to be up to individual developers to balance or refine the performance of their software.

    If you dont like it… dont buy anything that runs sub 60fps.

    • Even the NES and SNES ran at 60fps (though only 50fps in PAL regions).

      Most modern console games actually run at only 30fps – the exceptions usually being fighting games or racing games.

    • Yeah. Nobody is interested in putting actual guaranteed 60fps minimum on a platform. They’d have to be stupid to come out and say ‘everything runs at 60fps’. It’d cost them too much to even try to enforce it and it’d blow up in their face day one.

      If anything I want them to force graphic options into console games that can allow us to control the trade off. Fallen Order had an awful frame rate on XBOX One X in 4k but it had an option that let me cap it at 1080 and it was much more playable as a result. Any console that has even a basic performance, balanced, high detail slider on all it’s AAA’s will get my money.

  • These games are designed and optimised for the current generation, the mindset of the developers and the optimisation of design and code will take years to deliver higher performance.

    PS5 and Xbox 1X have a potential, a capped potential, but the software won’t be reaching that out mate form for years.

    Even on PC ray tracking is still an experimental medium, Ubisoft hasn’t delivered their RTX ON lineup due to their development rollback… Watch dogs 3 was suppose to be their show off piece.

  • To be fair if the new consoles run Assassins Creed Valhalla with the same details as ultra on pc with a minimum of 30fps, and at 4k, thats not terrible. Perhaps people dont realise that even the 2080ti, a $2k video card, paired with a reasonable pc runs Odyssey at ultra 4k average around 52fps. Of course they can lower things to hit that magic [email protected] Arguably they should offer performance and detail modes. Should make both camps happy.

    • If Valhalla is 30 fps MINIMUM while running native 4k (and not some bullshit they scale up to claim 4k) I’ll be quite amazed honestly.

      30 fps is fine in a lot of cases IF it is consistent… But 30 fps while still having drops below that is an unforgivable nightmare as far as I’m concerned.

      Of course, more frames is generally always better, but a lot of games don’t explicitly NEED 60+ fps… It’s just nice. First person shooters and fighting games are probably the most notable examples of games that truly do benefit from higher framerates.

      • Completely agree. Having played Hitman 2 at 60fps, it’s definitely a preferred way to play on console, but it’s not necessary.

      • Exactly. Just give me 30fps with no frame pacing issues or drops and I’m golden.

  • If they’re going to do that, they could at least give us more options to customise our performance. I don’t have a 4K TV, nor any plans to get one, so if the console will always be rendering in 4K, that’s power that could be better spent elsewhere. Similarly, I don’t care about raytracing if I have an option to disable it in favour of better performance.

    Simple things like making those options standard on next gen console games would be huge selling points imo. Some developers recognised that this generation (the ones I can immediately recall are Team Ninja and Blizzard, who offered the option of prioritising visuals or performance in Diablo 3 and Nioh 1/2), but it would be great to see it become a standard feature in the coming generation.

  • console users are already well used to 20-25fps on xbox360/ps3/xboxone/ps4 and 10fps on switch so 30fps is still an upgrade.
    that said im sure a 1080p60fps option will be available to go along with the 4k30.

  • If they can’t even label a trade show that virtually has no gameplay, with anything else other than a ‘gameplay event’. Nothing they say currently even remotely matter or be taken seriously.

  • This is why PC gaming will never die.

    It is more expensive, but an upgrade every 5 years or so keeps you well ahead of the curve.

    Not all games make it to PC, but for those that do, it will always be my preferred platform.

    • I love my gaming PC, but in all honesty the majority of the best games I’ve ever played throughout my lifetime has been predominantly on console. I got a 3700x, 32gb ram at 3600mhz and a 2070 Super. But I know I will be getting the PS5 & next Nintentdo console because there’s no way in hell I’m missing those PS/Nintendo exclusives (X Box Series X games are coming to PC so I’m not getting one).

    • At the same time not all the wonderful pc games make it to console either because quite frankly, they wouldn’t work well there.

      *hugs ARMA 3*

  • It’s a shame, but it’s to be expected. The peasantry has been living with the humble 30fps for so long that the bare minimum of 60fps for more discerning tastes is somehow considered a ‘luxury.’ Forget daring to dream of 99-120+.

  • There is no reason it can’t , it has nothing to do with the console’s capabilities ( series x or Ps5 ) it the developer and their engine. Their will be developers that will get this target and more. They should be told 60fps that’s the minimum , it’s just lazy Ubisoft that won’t deliver. This game will be a port from this generation nothing more , Ubisoft couldn’t care less about delivering the best experience on new generation as its far to late for them to get this right for series x and ps5.

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