Microsoft's Xbox One backwards compatibility is almost taken from granted these days, but let's not forget the scale of the achievement here - even the standard Xbox One S model has the ability to outperform original hardware both in terms of CPU and GPU performance, with most titles sticking far closely to their frame-rate targets than they did on original hardware. But just how much faster could original Xbox 360 titles run if developer-imposed 30fps caps were removed? And is there a case for the games of today to include optional modes that unlock performance, only becoming fully exploited when running on the hardware of tomorrow?
Workstation products announced, gaming GPUs to follow.
And a separate PC version runs your Windows games too.
The full install procedure revealed plus comments from Epic's Tim Sweeney.
In the wake of E3, Sony sent over high quality 4K versions of their trailers, allowing us to get a closer, more granular look at how PlayStation 4 Pro is set deliver the next wave of first-party exclusives for owners of ultra HD displays. Technologies like checkerboarding and temporal injection persist and in all cases, the results are impressive. And that's a good thing, as these techniques - or evolved versions of them - are likely to be a component of games designed for the next generation of consoles. By extension, what that also means is that marketing a new PlayStation or Xbox as a 'true 4K' console, or pushing developers to maximise pixel-counts first and foremost, may not be the best idea.
We've already taken a look at the excellent Radeon RX Vega 56, the cut-down version of the full-fat graphics card reviewed here today - and it's a winner. A couple of outliers aside, it's as fast as Nvidia's GTX 1070 or significantly faster and it easily overclocks to push further ahead. It's AMD at its best - competitive, disruptive and adding value - but the same can't quite be said for the RX Vega 64. It's a good product overall and it's competitive enough with Nvidia, but it offers no knockout blow - in the here and now, at least.
On a platform with near infinite levels of configurability, just how do you demonstrate whether a new GPU really has the power to deliver a quality, native 4K experience at 60 frames per second? In our testing with the new GTX 1080 Ti, we established a very simple test criteria: if the new card's performance at ultra HD matches up to the 1080p prowess of GTX 970 at the same settings, we have a winner. We're perhaps one generational step away from a complete match, but Nvidia's new GPU king gets astonishingly close. In some cases, it's actually even faster - a remarkable turnout bearing in mind the 4x increase in pixel-count.
AMD call it Polaris refined, but to all intents and purposes, RX 570 and RX 580 are indeed upclocked versions of their predecessors. There's the same complement of 32 and 36 compute units respectively, power efficiency is diminished in the quest for higher frequencies and by extension, the emphasis this time is on increased performance. And to be frank, that's fine with us - just don't go into a 570/580 purchase thinking you're getting the new AMD Vega technology, because you're not.
Just a couple of weeks after the launch of AMD's mainstream-friendly Radeon RX 480, Nvidia enters the fray with its own pitch to the more value-orientated gamer. The new GeForce GTX 1060 is pricier than both of the Radeon RX 480 SKUs - and it loses two gigs of VRAM compared to AMD's 8GB offering. However, Nvidia hopes that the extra power on offer makes the difference, promising GTX 980-level performance. Two years ago, that would have set you back £430/$550. Today, thanks to GTX 1060, it's £240/$250. That's a highly attractive proposition but the question is, does the product fully deliver?
The headlines are clear enough. Requiring a mere 180W, and using just a single eight-pin PCI Express power input, the GeForce GTX 1080 offers a 25 to 30 per cent increase in overall performance compared to Titan X, combined with a 28 per cent reduction in TDP. It is the fastest graphics card on the market by a significant margin, and our testing essentially confirms Nvidia's chucklesome claims of "irresponsible levels of performance".
The 3GB version of Nvidia's GTX 1060 is a curious product. Is it actually a GTX 1060 at all? The cutbacks made to this product aren't just memory-based in nature. In addition to chopping down the full-fat product's memory allocation, we also see a drop in available processing cores. The full complement of 1280 shaders drops to 1152 - and most of the time, this tends to be accompanied by a change in name. GTX 1050 Ti any one? Scratch that, it's taken, GTX 1060 LE perhaps?
Nvidia's Pascal architecture continues its top-down steamrolling of the graphics product stack, with the arrival of the first of two more budget-orientated parts - GTX 1050 Ti and GTX 1050. It's the first card we're looking at today, highlighting the debut of the fully enabled version of Nvidia's GP107 processor, offering performance significantly ahead of PlayStation 4 and paired with a useful 4GB of GDDR5. GTX 1050 Ti can get you to 1080p60 in most titles with careful tweaking, but really this class of GPU is all about matching ballpark console performance with improved visuals and more consistent frame-rates.
Years in development, the new Radeon RX Vega line is finally arriving - AMD's return to the higher-end of GPU performance after concentrating its efforts more on the mainstream and budget sectors of the market. There's no shortage of cutting-edge tech here: the Vega processor utilises 12.5 billion transistors on a very large 486mm2 area of silicon, the chip paired with two 4GB stacks of cutting-edge HBM2 memory. It's a bigger chip than Nvidia's GTX 1080 Ti and it has more memory bandwidth - however, the top-end RX Vega 64 offers performance more in line with GTX 1080, while the cut-down RX Vega 56 reviewed here is clearly aimed to compete with the GTX 1070. It does this job rather well.
Just six weeks ago, the notion that Nvidia's GTX 970 replacement could offer Titan X-level performance seemed like a product of wishful thinking. But the GTX 1080's comprehensive takedown of Nvidia's previous GPU flagship was so overwhelming that what many thought was fanciful thinking is now a cold, hard reality. The bottom line is that GTX 1070 isn't just on par with Titan X. It's actually a touch faster, and a whole lot cheaper.
The spiritual successor to Burnout we've been waiting for is coming - but perhaps not quite in the way you might have imagined. Danger Zone 2, a current-gen revamp of Burnout's crash mode, arrives on July 13th on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC, courtesy of Three Fields Entertainment. Meanwhile, further on down the road, Dangerous Driving is the circuit-based Burnout successor that follows it, arriving as soon as this winter - and developed by the same close-knit team of just seven people.
It's been revealed that the piracy-enabling firmware recently launched for Nintendo Switch contains 'brick code' that can render the device inoperable, designed to stop it from being copied - a somewhat ironic state of affairs. Security researcher Mike Heskin took to Twitter to reveal the findings of his analysis of Team Xecutor's 'SX OS' custom firmware. It's a software patch for the Switch's operating system, released in tandem with a hardware dongle that opens the door to running unsigned code - ie homebrew - but also enables copied games to run.
A welcome announcement at Microsoft's E3 2018 media briefing, Nier Automata is receiving a long-overdue port onto Xbox One. Better yet, the game is due for release next week and our E3 hands-on suggests that Xbox One X is set to deliver the best version of the game yet. Indeed, Microsoft's list of X-enhanced titles suggests that we'll be receiving a 4K ultra HD experience (with HDR, no less) - a substantial boost over the PS4 Pro's 1080p showing. So is the upgrade as substantial as Microsoft suggests?
It's likely to go down in history as one of the greatest E3 demos, its iconic status only embellished by the fact that outside of behind-closed-doors visitors, nobody has actually seen it. But the trailer footage looks sensational and reports of Cyberpunk 2077's gameplay are stoking plenty of excitement. And now, we have confirmation of the PC hardware that was actually running it.
It was the E3 where we half-expected Sony to break cover with its plans for the next generation of PlayStation hardware, but come the hour, it was actually Microsoft that confirmed that its hardware engineers are hard at work architecting what Phil Spencer called "the next Xbox consoles". Implying that more than one new Xbox is in development right now is an interesting - and dare we suggest, deliberate - choice of words.
UPDATE: 15/6/18 18:25pm: Tech website WCCFTech has been in touch to point out that its report on the same story posted a few hours earlier than the Forbes entry. It has some more detail that's well worth checking out.
One of the most memorable reveals of the last year's Microsoft E3 media briefing, 4A Games' Metro Exodus seemed to offer a formula that looked too good to be true - a successful transition of an established linear shooter into a similarly well-crafted open world epic. One year on, having spent a few hours hands-on with the game, there's the sense that the promise suggested by that stunning demo has been fulfilled. Exodus is indeed Metro as we know it, but built within a more open-ended environment, with all the opportunities that offers.
Microsoft kicked off its E3 2018 media briefing in epic style, revealing a work-in-progress technology demonstration of its next Master Chief series entry, Halo Infinite, accompanied by an honest, revealing blog giving us a little more background on the ideas behind the game, the aim to recapture the style of the Bungie era for modern hardware, and an admission that almost three years on from the release of Halo 5, Infinite is still very early on in production. Naturally, as the current generation draws to a close, the question must be asked whether this is our first tentative look at a game destined for the next Xbox.
It's getting a full release in a few weeks' time but for owners of the Far Cry 5 season pass, Far Cry 3 Classic Edition is available for download right now - and to say it's garnering mixed reports is something of an understatement. On the one hand, it delivers a night and day improvement in every regard compared to the original Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 console releases, but on the other, the reality is that it's essentially a straight port of the existing PC game. And perhaps there's a reason why this is dubbed the Classic Edition as opposed to, say, Far Cry 3 Remastered - because as far as I can see, the only actual changes made to the core content seems to be restricted to adding the work 'classic' to the logo.
There's surely not long to wait now. After two years with Nvidia's 10-series GPUs based on the Pascal architecture, we're finally due an upgrade. With several sources strongly suggesting a July launch date, Nvidia's next 'GPU King' may well be just around the corner, but what specs will it have? How powerful it be? In a market notorious for its often-accurate leaks, it's actually surprising how little we know, but there's enough information out there to at least give a broad overview of what we can expect.
Fortnite's domination of the console space shows no sign of flagging, but we will be receiving a glut of new Battle Royale games in the console space over the next few months - and the deluge begins on PlayStation 4 with the release of H1Z1, a port of one of the very first examples of the genre. It's fascinating to stack it up against the competition: the similarities with PUBG are legion (owing to Playerunknown working on both titles) but the execution is very, very different. For starters, developer Daybreak Games is targeting 60 frames per second on console, similar to Epic's Fortnite and up to double the performance of PUBG on Xbox One.
Samsung has issued firmware updates that add FreeSync over HDMI support to a number of its 4K TVs. FreeSync is a variable refresh rate technology that allows for smoother, tear-free gaming from AMD Radeon graphics cards, with a slightly different implementation available on Xbox One, One S and One X. Engadget reports that US models Q6FN, Q7FN, Q8FN and Q9FN QLED models get the upgrade along with the NU8000 (we're contacting Samsung to find out which EU/UK equivalents are supported - the firm's model names change according to region). It's a great move for living room gaming, bringing a highly desirable feature previously exclusive to PC monitors to a larger canvas for the first time.
A principal programmer at Sony associated with the firm's Advanced Technology Group is working with AMD's Ryzen technology, improving the Zen core's micro-architecture support within the LLVM compiler stack - a key component of a tool used in the PlayStation 4 development environment. Of course, there is no PS4 product using the Ryzen processor, leading to speculation that this is related to a prospective next-gen PlayStation 5 console currently in development.
Let's take a trip back to E3 2004 and re-examine what looked like one of the most one-sided console 'wars' in history. Sony debuted its state-of-the-art PlayStation Portable as part of an E3 that also saw the reveal of the Nintendo DS. The Mario makers' low-tech device was all but written off in the wake of an admittedly feeble reveal, but of course, in terms of sales success it was the handheld device of its era, with PSP eventually finishing up as a worthy runner-up. Both were important machines though and their legacy persists into the core make-up of today's mobile devices, with the pioneering concepts of both platform holders crucial to the make-up of the modern day smartphone - not to mention the Nintendo Switch.