Microsoft’s next-gen consoles promise to deliver a generational leap for gaming, but they also come with a number of unique features that you won’t find anywhere else. Without further ado, then, here are 10 Xbox Series X features you might not know about.
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1. Xbox Series X and Series S support Dolby Vision
If you haven't had the pleasure of witnessing HDR already, it can be a transformative experience for video games. Although the Xbox Series X and Series S both support HDR10, the Dolby Vision HDR format uses dynamic metadata to take HDR gaming to the next level. Dolby Vision is capable of 10x greater black levels than HDR10, so you can expect superb contrast levels and spectacular highlights.
Here's the slightly bad news: Dolby Vision won't arrive until 2021, but it will come to the two new Xbox consoles before PS5, if Sony does indeed decide to support it.
2. Enjoy dynamic backgrounds on the dashboard
Dynamic backgrounds might not sound like a big deal, especially as they've been available on PS4 for many years – but the Xbox dashboard will certainly look more alive now they're here.
Further ways to personalize the Xbox dashboard are always welcome, and you can guarantee that we'll see some great additions down the line once developers make game-specific backgrounds.
3. You can pre-load games before your disc arrives
Waiting for games to download or install is a pain, and if you buy physical games, you need to wait for the disc to arrive before the process even begins. Or at least, you used to.
Microsoft has revealed that any game can now be preloaded from the Microsoft Store, even if you don't own it. Once your disk arrives, you simply pop it in and you're good to go: the disc only acts as a license and all the files and updates are already installed. Now your game will actually be ready to play on day one.
4. Xbox Family Settings app is a blessing for parents
Worried about what the little ones are up to when they’re playing on the Xbox? Or perhaps you’d like more control over how much your kids play during the week? The Xbox Family App looks set to be a blessing for parents, who might need more help when it comes to managing a child’s overall screen time.
Using the Xbox Family App, parents can set play limits and age restrictions, and even manage who they’re able to connect with. That means if your kid receives a friend request, you can check it first to ensure that yes, they really are a friend, or block them entirely.
5. Quick Resume lets you suspend and resume multiple games
A game-changing feature if there ever was one, the Xbox Series X and more affordable Series S both support Quick Resume, which lets you suspend and resume multiple games at a time.
While the overall limit differs depending on which titles you're running, the ability to pick up where you left off across several games in around 12 seconds or less means you'll never have to agonize over what to play. Not everything will work, mind you – games with persistent online worlds like Sea of Thieves for example – but Quick Resume is likely to become everyone's favorite new feature to show off.
6. You can choose from three types of spatial audio
While the PS5 is pushing its proprietary 3D audio format, Xbox Series X/S and Xbox One owners can choose between three types of spatial audio. There's Windows Sonic, which is completely free, Dolby Atmos or DTS Headphone: X. The latter two require a license to use, but having the choice means more players will find the right spatial solution for them, particularly as everyone's tastes tend differ when it comes to audio.
7. You can earn rewards just by playing
Did you know you can earn Microsoft reward points just by playing your favorite games? That's right. Whether you're unlocking achievements, completing certain challenges or buying a game from the Microsoft Store, Microsoft Rewards lets you collect points that you can put towards competition entries or convert into cash vouchers. It's super simple to sign up, and you'd be doing yourself a disservice if you don't. Who doesn't want to be paid to play?
8. Some older games are getting HDR support
The Xbox Series X is already shaping up to be a fantastic console for backwards compatibility, but one interesting new feature is how it can add HDR to older games. This applies to both Xbox 360 and original Xbox titles, some of which were developed nearly 20 years ago. GTA 4 on Xbox 360 for example, which was released in 2008, has been confirmed to feature HDR support, along with the original Xbox game, Fusion Frenzy.
9. You can easily expand your storage
The Xbox Series X comes with a 1TB internal NVMe SSD, which enables super-fast load times and new features such as Quick Resume. However, with game install sizes getting larger with every generation, drive space might be at a premium before too long.
Luckily, users can add more storage thanks to Seagate's 1TB Storage Expansion Card, which is specifically designed for Xbox Series X and Series S. It slots into the back of the rear of the system, much like a memory card, and means you'll have more room for games should you require it.
10. Your existing Xbox One accessories work on Xbox Series X/S
If you've amassed a small collection of custom Xbox One controllers like I have, you'll be relieved to hear that almost every single Xbox One accessory will work on Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S. That means if you've shelled out for the Xbox Elite Wireless Series 2 controller or need the Xbox Adaptive Controller to get your game on, you won't have to part with any more cash.
Basically everything you use on your Xbox One today just works on the new consoles... apart from Kinect. But hey, no one's really bothered about that, are they? Nah, thought not.
So there you have it: 10 Xbox Series X features that you might have missed. With November 10 rapidly approaching, we'll soon be able to sample all of these new features first-hand. And who knows? Perhaps some more surprises will await on launch day.
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