While Microsoft's latest console may not have a lot of brand new games to its name, it does greatly improve some older titles. One such title is the open-world racer Forza Horizon 4 from Playground Games. It was always one of the prettiest games around, but now that it has been optimized for the Xbox Series X, it might be the best-looking racing game ever.
With its buckets of power and solid-state drive (SSD), the Series X has given many developers the opportunity to improve their games. Whether it be in the form of FPS boosts or near-instant load times, older games are getting a rework in a way we have never seen before. Even so, Forza Horizon 4 is in a league of its own.
6 Load Times
The headline feature of all the new consoles is their ultra-fast SSDs. In the Series X and S there is a WD SN530 NVMe SSD accessing data at a rate of 2.4gb/s. For comparison, that's about 40 times faster than the Xbox One's hard drive. This hardware comes combined with technology known as Xbox Velocity Architecture to allow games to boot-up at blistering speeds.
Forza Horizon 4 obviously makes the most of this. Loading into the game from the main menu takes around 20 seconds, where it used to take roughly one minute. Loading a race takes about half the time too, around 10 seconds. Most notable is when you change your car in the open world: this takes a handful of seconds, so few it's hard to count. It just makes the overall experience much smoother and lets the player get to racing as soon as possible.
5 Menu Speeds
Another benefit of the SSD is the responsiveness of the game overall. On the Xbox One line of consoles, there was a noticeable delay before the menu would open when hitting the pause button. It was never huge, but it was definitely there. Now the menu loads up instantly, making a quick look at the map a much nicer prospect.
This speed extends all over the menus, adding responsiveness that was never there before. Flicking LB and RB to go across to different tabs happens instantly, and opening up the garage full of hundreds of cars is much less laborious. All these little quality of life improvements add up to make a significant difference to the overall user experience.
4 Quick Resume
Under the banner of Xbox Velocity Architecture, the Series X and S can make use of their SSD to reopen the game straight back to where the player left it, even if they open another game. It's unclear how many games the player can do this with, but most reports say it is between four and seven.
What this means for a game like Forza Horizon 4 is that it is easier than ever just to hop in for one quick race. Tired of running around the golden-brown of Assassin's Creed Valhalla? Just take a quick pitstop in Forza Horizon 4. The player only has to wait around ten seconds before they are back exactly where they left the game. It is a magical feature.
3 Frames Per Second
The headline improvement for the Series X and S optimized version of Forza Horizon 4 is the frame-rate. On the Xbox One line of consoles, the game ran at 30fps unless it was in performance mode on a One X. This downgraded the resolution greatly, however, making it a notable sacrifice.
No such sacrifice is needed here, and it feels like the game is being seen how it ought to be seen. Any racing game needs to hit that 60fps mark to reach the fluidity and speed that it is trying to mirror. Going from 30fps on the Xbox One to 60fps on the Xbox Series X is a genuinely game-changing improvement.
2 Higher-Quality Car Models
There are a handful of other improvements here and there too, making use of the added power to improve the quality of in-game assets. Not only is there a resolution bump, but in-game textures are improved as well, making everything more vibrant and believable.
These improvements stretch all the way to the quality of the car models. For an open-world game where the player never gets out of the car and spends all their time racing against other cars, this is a significant improvement. Whether it's a Ford Anglia or a Peel Trident, all of the cars look gorgeous.
1 4k Resolution
The second headline feature of the new consoles is a true 4k resolution, something only offered by the Xbox One X previously. The Series X allows games to run at true 4k at 60fps, making the whole world of Forza much crisper. This isn't offered by the Series S, however, as that console only outputs at 1440p.
This increase in resolution is incredibly beneficial for an open-world game where the player is looking off into the distance, especially when looking for a Barn Find. The ability to see obstacles from further away is genuinely helpful in gameplay, but other simple things, like seeing the sun cresting over the horizon, illuminating the many trees and rolling hills of this UK, become all the more magical.
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