The Problem with Xbox Upgrades
Quantum Break

I bought an Xbox One X rather hastily, as the allure of limited edition SKUs is hard for me to resist sometimes, and for the most part I love it. I don’t even have a 4K TV yet, but I can tell the difference on games that make use of the power boost for 1080p sets. I even suffered through Gears of War 2 to lead into the third game, which looks incredible at full 1080p. I’ve been testing as many enhanced games as I can, from Assassin’s Creed: Origins to Final Fantasy XV, and the results have always been some degree of noticeable improvement from my old Xbox One. But I read something recently that had me a bit concerned about the initial wave of Xbox One X enhancements. While my experience has mostly been positive, there still seems to be a lot of inconsistency on a per-game basis (which makes sense), but I worry about how this might impact the box’s reputation while people are still trying to figure out if it’s worth it.

What I’m referring to is a report from Digital Foundry about the final Xbox One X Enhancements for the Microsoft-exclusive Quantum Break. Quantum Break is a hugely ambitious game from Remedy Entertainment, whom you may remember as the developers behind the original Max Payne or Alan Wake. It’s a third-person shooter mixed with live-action, filmed TV show-style footage, and while I haven’t played it yet, I recently snagged a copy in anticipation of Xbox One X Enhancements. After all, it, like many other Xbox One games, didn’t run so well on the original hardware.

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Digital Foundry generally praises the Xbox One Enhancements as they are, although noting that they are noticeably different from a preview build of the game as it was running on the new console earlier in the year. It runs at a consistent frame rate and while it doesn’t hit native 4K, it does hit 1080p easily, which is a huge boost from 720p on the original box. However, a bizarre set of new visual tics and glitches seem to have accompanied the update, something that seems odd for a Microsoft-published effort to make use of Xbox One X Enhancements.

What strikes me as particularly odd is that the update changed what was originally sent out to sites like Digital Foundry pre-launch. To me this says there were issues then, and this was a late course-correct. Otherwise why send out the preview build? I’m not one of those jokers who would suggest laziness, and this doesn’t exactly sound like a disaster, either. Perhaps, this is an issue that will vanish in time after a patch. But there are only so many exclusives on the Xbox One right now, and Quantum Break was a key opportunity to come out swinging with this thing. Now it’s fuel for crummy YouTube comments.

Quantum Break

Devs have to take care with these Xbox One X Enhancements. Publishers too. If one or both sides is trying to rush to make a date, that runs the risk of shipping something that’s sub-optimal, and this console needs all the good press it can get. Early word of mouth has been great so far, but this is definitely a blemish, even if it’s a small one. It makes me worry now that instead of jumping on games, myself and others will now be more hesitant to jump on games with that “Xbox One X Enhanced” labeling.

It can't be easy to sell something as unstable as visual upgrades can be. Ultimately this is just a bump on the road, especially compared to other great examples of the hardware, including the games I mentioned towards the beginning of this article. But it’s an indication of how these things can go poorly too, and we’ve seen enough of that on the PS4 Pro already – and that thing is struggling a bit in PR terms as a result. The Xbox One X has done well out of the gate, and will continue to be a great use case for 4K equipment, as well as upgrading for more visually-inclined 1080p users as well. But time and care needs to be taken with these updates; a simple upscale or unaddressed batch of new glitches accompanying enhancements is not a good look, even if it’s fixed later. Hopefully this instance is a fluke, and things will continue to look good. Everybody wins when good stuff happens in games.

Lucas White
Lucas White
@HokutoNoRucas

Contributing Writer
Date: 12/05/2017

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