The best games for Xbox One S HDR so far
Microsoft's Xbox One S was the first video game console capable of outputting HDR for games, but which are the best examples of it so far?
HDR stands for High Dynamic Range, which is a feature that allows compatible TVs to display more vibrant colors with more vivid contrasts. There are only a handful of games that support HDR right now, and these are the best.
What exactly is HDR?
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High Dynamic Range is designed to enhance the color experience on your compatible TV set. You need an Xbox One S to output in HDR, in addition to a compatible TV. The Xbox One S only supports the HDR10 format, so ensure that the TV you purchase has this feature before jumping in — here are a few great Xbox One S-compatible HDR TVs.
HDR provides richer, more vivid colors, while displaying darker shadows and brighter lights. The effect is supposed to make your media look more realistic, matching colors and highlights more closely to the real world. HDR10 is an open platform adopted by the Blu-ray Association itself for delivering 4K UHD HDR Blu-ray movies, mastered for a potential brightness of 1000 nits. Amazon has a handy list of Blu-rays that support the HDR10 format.
As far as games are concerned, it gives your visuals an extra kick, emphasizing explosions and special effects, while providing backdrops and characters with more flair. The effect of HDR per game is largely the same, but these are the best games available that support it so far.
Gears of War 4
This one is a firm no-brainer, as a pioneering HDR title on the Xbox One S. Gears 4 is set in a violent world recovering from the near-extinction of the human race, following all-out war with a relentless subterranean monster army. The latest in the series kickstarts an all-new saga featuring JD Fenix and his friends, as they battle to uncover a brand new threat facing the remnants of humanity.
Gears of War 4 is a third-person shooter with a vast amount of value. It features a strong single-player campaign, competitive multiplayer versus modes and a co-operative Horde mode, complete with classes, upgrades, and piles of cosmetic customization. Gears of War 4 is also a visual powerhouse running on Unreal Engine 4, representing the best of what the Xbox One has to offer. HDR only elevates the experience, accentuating the game's explosive combat, impressive weather effects, and environmental detail. Gears 4 is a must-buy for all Xbox One shooter fans with HDR sets.
Deus Ex Mankind Divided
Deus Ex Mankind Divided is a stealth action game with heavy RPG elements, and it's one of the few titles to support HDR on Xbox One S.
Set in a future where cybernetic enhancements are commonplace, Deus Ex Mankind Divided follows the continuation of Adam Jensen's story as he edges closer to uncovering a global conspiracy attempting to control the entire world.
Deus Ex Mankind Divided is as exciting and rewarding as the previous game, with multiple completion routes for each mission and various ways to customize your playstyle. It's also incredibly gorgeous on Xbox One, with a neo-noir art direction that builds on the gritty futurism seen in its predecessor, Deus Ex Human Revolution. HDR enhances the game with vivid lighting that extends the shadowy stealth-stalker gameplay. Deus Ex Mankind Divided is one of 2016's greats.
Final Fantasy XV
Final Fantasy XV represents the triumphant return to form for the near-30-year-old series, following the franchise's disappointing 13th installment. FFXV is an action RPG which follows the classic Final Fantasy formula. An exiled Prince and his friends embark on a grand road trip to reclaim lost lands, battle gigantic monsters, hunt treasure in dark dungeons, and ultimately save the world from a global evil.
FFXV's hack n' slash-inspired combat is addictive and rewarding, allowing players to perform beautifully choreographed attacks in real-time against a vast menagerie of deadly creatures. While FFXV's texture quality and resolution could be better (and it will be improved in 2017 with an update), HDR helps the game's stunning art direction reach to new heights.
Forza Horizon 3
Forza Horizon 3 is among the greatest racing games of this generation, and it was the first to launch with HDR support for the Xbox One S.
Forza Horizon 3 is an arcade racer which takes place in a vibrant and lovingly recreated Australian landscape. Dynamic weather effects sing in HDR, and the game is also available as an Xbox Play Anywhere title, ready for when HDR support hits Windows 10 in the future.
Hundreds of colorful, licensed cars really stand out in Forza Horizon 3's HDR setting, which takes on a whole new vivid dimension if you have compatible hardware. If you're a fan of racing games, this is an unmissable experience.
ReCore will be another stunning example of great HDR on Xbox One S, wrapped around an endearing and rewarding action platformer experience. In ReCore, you play as Joule on the distant planet of Far Eden. Tasked with the planet's terraforming effort to make it suitable for human colonization, Joule awakens from cryo-sleep to find her co-workers missing. Her employer's army of industrial robots have also gone rogue, and it's up to Joule and her small contingent of friendly corebots to find out what went wrong.
ReCore is an incredibly fun title with an old-school action platforming slant. The game is also well-suited to HDR, as the colors of the ReCore actually have a strong bearing on gameplay. It's a great title for all ages.
Resident Evil 7
Do you like stalking decrepit hallways in the dark? Cus the shadowy environs of Resident Evil 7 get all the more terrifying in HDR.
Light and darkness is one of the most powerful devices used by horror games to evoke a creepy atmosphere, and Resident Evil 7 is among the best titles to utilize the tech.
In Resident Evil 7, your personal investigation into your missing wife leads you deep into a Louisana bayou, to a seemingly abandoned ranch in the middle of nowhere. Soon after arriving, crazed cannibals, evidence of murder, and horrific mutants begin appearing, and it's up to you to survive.
Resident Evil 7 is also available as an Xbox Play Anywhere title, meaning you get the game on both PC and Xbox One with a single purchase.
While the adoption rate for HDR has been on the slow side, more and more developers are investing in the technology. Resident Evil 7 will support HDR when it launches in January 2017, and Battlefield 1 should also be updated sometime in the future to enhance its already gorgeous visuals. You can also bet on upcoming Xbox One exclusives like the colorful Sea of Thieves to support HDR as well, as Microsoft pushes to promote the tech.
Are you a fan of HDR? Do you think it's worth the 4K TV upgrade? Let us know in the comments!
Full list of Xbox One S games with HDR
Update, June 30 2017: We've included Resident Evil 7 into the mix following its HDR update.
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Jez Corden a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!