Will Microsoft’s Claims of “Uncompromised 4K” Hurt the Xbox One X?

At E3 2016, Microsoft announced its flagship console, Project Scorpio, to much fanfare and possibly just as much skepticism. Here was a console that was big on power and big on promises. Perhaps most notable was the promise of Project Scorpio being able to deliver uncompromised 4K gaming.

Fast forward to 2017, and the gaming community learned some concrete details about what the console could actually do. A highly-publicized analysis from the folks at Eurogamer/Digital Foundry showed that the console punches far higher than any other. A few months ago at E3 2017, Microsoft officially unveiled the console’s name, design, release date, and price. Now called the Xbox One X, Microsoft’s heavy-hitting beast of a console will release on November 7, 2017 for $499.

During the E3 2017 conference, Microsoft continued to push the message of delivering “uncompromised” 4K gaming. High-ranking company executives such as Mike Ybarra have commented on the Xbox One X’s ability to deliver “true 4K” experiences as recently as last week.

This is all well and good, but does the new console actually deliver this level of performance, and will the console fail if it doesn’t?

According to Merriam-Webster, the word “uncompromising” means, “not making or accepting a compromise; making no concessions.” In order to deliver uncompromised 4K, then, the Xbox One X needs to be able to deliver true 4K visuals without workarounds, shortcuts, or other such trickery. Have they been able to accomplish this? Yes and no.

A list of 80 games has been making the rounds on popular gaming forum NeoGAF, indicating which games are currently slated to receive Xbox One X enhancements. At the time of this writing, 63 games will support full 4K resolution on the Xbox One X. However, twelve games will achieve 4K resolution through the use of a checkerboarding technique; a compromise.

It’s clear by now that the Xbox One X isn’t capable of achieving true/uncompromised 4K resolution in every game. Does that matter, though? Is this really that much of a dealbreaker? I think not.

Firstly, it’s important to consider the current messaging of the Xbox division on the matter. It is true that Microsoft may be quick to tout claims of “uncomrpomised” and “true” 4K. However, they are not saying that this is the case for every game. The product page for the console has quips for “4K, feel true power,” “4K gaming is immersive,” and “true 4K,” but nowhere does it state that is to be expected for every game. The argument of mixed messaging on Microsoft’s part does have some merit. At the same time, it’s important to take what they are saying at face value and not read into it.

Overall, Microsoft has mostly succeeded in making the Xbox One X a worthwhile purchase. Even though some games do feature checkerboarding, there is still plenty of content here that will take advantage of 4K TVs. Visual enhancements and features that benefit owners of standard HDTVs ensure that no one is completely left out. Support seems to be far better than the rather uneven utilization of the PS4 Pro’s extra horsepower over the standard hardware. Any game that uses dynamic resolution scaling and/or features an unlocked frame rate will see improvements even before any X-specific patches/updates are implemented.

It is true that Microsoft’s beast of a console cannot deliver uncompromised 4K with every game. However, the company has succeeded in producing a console that is far more powerful than it’s competition. The Xbox One X will feature the best-looking versions of multiplatform games. Gamers that  invested in the Xbox ecosystem will see a tangible benefit in many of their favorite current and upcoming games. Lastly, the console represents a fantastic price-to-performance bargain.

In closing, the Xbox One X will undoubtedly provide a better gaming experience for Xbox gamers that decide to take the plunge. That’s not a failure. Contrarily, I’d say it’s mission accomplished, uncompromised 4K be damned.

If you’d like to check out my inspiration for writing this piece, you can check out Colt Eastwood’s video here.

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