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'Xbox One X Enhanced' games and what to expect: 4K, HDR, 60 FPS and more

Microsoft's upcoming iteration of its flagship console, the Xbox One X, promises to deliver premium performance and graphics fidelity in a $499 package. Following a significant hardware upgrade over its predecessor, the device stands out as the most powerful console coming to market. However, not all games will be seeing the same performance increases across the Xbox library. Here's how to identify a "Xbox One X Enhanced" experience and the upgrades to expect.

What is a Xbox One X Enhanced game?

Following the announcement of the Xbox One X, a range of titles are already being announced with the Xbox One X Enhanced tagline. This designation indicates a game's developer has manually updated the title to leverage the power of the new hardware. Although it doesn't designate any specific features, developers are generally targeting higher resolutions and improved visual fidelity. While all games running Xbox One X can still see performance benefits, a manual patch allows the full power of the console to be utilized.

How do I know if a game is Xbox One X Enhanced?

While the Xbox One X is yet to launch, developers have already begun to announce plans to leverage the console's additional resources. Going forward, you can expect to see improvements on a significant portion of upcoming AAA titles after several major publishers recently pledged support.

To identify whether new games take advantage of the Xbox One X, take a look at the front of their packaging. As indicated with numerous confirmed titles, icons detailing enhancements will be located at the top right-hand side of the box art. The following three icons will be used to indicate enhancements:

  • 4K Ultra HD — This icon indicates a game outputs 2160p natively, or via other techniques such as checkerboarding and a dynamic resolution.
  • HDR — This icon indicates the title supports the HDR 10 standard on Xbox One X.
  • Xbox One X Enhanced — This icon indicates the game has some type of upgrade on Xbox One X hardware, manually added by the developer.

Some developers have also announced plans to update existing games to take advantage of the hardware. If released before the Xbox One X announcement, it's unlikely that publishers will rework packaging to reflect support for the console. To see which existing titles are planning to offer patches, take a look at our complete list of Xbox One X Enhanced titles.

Which games will be Xbox One X Enhanced?

Support for the Xbox One X isn't a requirement for developers and won't be one going forward. However, with a growing interesting in 4K and competitors pushing higher-end hardware, developers will be more inclined to tailor to these platforms. While upcoming physical games will indicate support on the box, it's already getting hard to keep track of which digital and existing titles will offer enhancements. Luckily, we've been keeping an eye on recent announcements, to keep an up-to-date list of titles planning to be Xbox One X Enhanced.

  • A complete list of 'Xbox One X Enhanced' games

What improvements can be expected from Xbox One X Enhanced games?

Although how a developer enhances a game is entirely based on preference, there are some key upgrades you can expect to frequently see on "Xbox One X Enhanced" titles. We've broken down the most common improvements currently in the pipeline for titles utilizing the additional power.

4K resolution (Ultra HD)

Improved resolution is one of the Xbox One X's biggest promises and is currently the focus of the console's marketing. A bump to 4K resolution will be the most common upgrade seen across Xbox One X Enhanced titles, making for a significantly sharper image.

In a traditional sense, a game with 4K support renders an image natively at 3,840 pixels wide and 2,160 pixels high (2160p). However, the games industry has begun to use 4K as a blanket term for various approaches to achieving this resolution.

By Microsoft's guidelines for Xbox One X developers, a game must have a "2160p frame buffer output" to qualify as a 4K title. Because of these standards, games that don't render natively at 4K resolution can still be classified as 4K titles (given the slang term "Faux-K" within the industry). As of right now, developers are adopting one of three approaches to qualify as 4K titles on Xbox One X:

  • Native 4K — "Native 4K" is 4K resolution in its true form, which means a game renders natively at 3,840 x 2,160 pixels. This is the clearest "aspirational" version of 4K, but due to the high pixel-count, it can be severely taxing on hardware.
  • Checkerboard rendering — This is a technique becoming more frequently adopted when developing for consoles and is used to emulate the clarity of native 4K. Although implementation can differ between titles, the technique essentially renders a smaller percentage of the image and estimates the remaining pixels. This method reduces the tax on the system for little tradeoff, allowing resources to be used on other visual enhancements.
  • Dynamic resolution — A dynamic resolution is a technique used to change a game's resolution depending on system load. During more taxing situations, the resolution will drop below the target, to maintain a stable framerate. This can be effective, provided a game stays close to the target resolution. Otherwise, it can reduce the appeal of a 4K game entirely.

If using a full HD (1080p) display, you'll also see benefits from an Xbox One X resolution bump. Using a technology called "supersampling," the high-resolution image will be downsampled to a lower resolution. As a result, a smoother image with improved antialiasing is produced for some titles.

High Dynamic Range

High Dynamic Range (HDR) is a technology that's becoming increasingly popular in today's highest-end displays. Using the technique, tones in an image can be displayed with a higher contrast ratio, which allows for a broader range of on-screen colors. Overall, HDR content often delivers a more vivid, life-like appearance of color, lighting, and shadows. When paired with 4K, this can make for unrivaled in-game image quality.

While not all Xbox One X Enhanced games will offer HDR, this is becoming an increasingly common trend with AAA titles. Having a significant effect on the outputted image for little effect on performance, a growing list of games already support HDR following its debut on the Xbox One S last year.

While there are numerous established standards for HDR, the Xbox One X only utilizes the "HDR 10" standard. If you're yet to get a compatible display, which is required to experience HDR, check the supported standards before making a purchase.

Higher frame rates (30 FPS to 60 FPS)

With the additional resources available, higher frame rates can also be expected with certain titles. Support for 60 frames per second (FPS) is more common than ever on consoles, adding a new level of fluidity to gameplay. However, this again can vary between games, based on a developer's priorities.

The majority of games that run in native 4K fail will fail to meet 60 FPS. Obviously, there are a few exceptions like Forza Motorsport 7, but at launch, few titles will offer both these enhancements simultaneously. However, by using techniques like checkerboarding and dynamic resolutions, games can offer a near-4K experience alongside a higher frame rate.

A majority of the Xbox One library will also benefit from the Xbox One X's overhead, even when not patched specifically to support the full power of the console. Using the additional power, games will be able to hit their target frame rates more consistently (if not all the time.)

Improved visual effects

Minecraft

Minecraft (Image credit: Mojang)

Developers can also leverage the Xbox One X's hardware to add their own preferred tweaks to both upcoming and existing titles. Among these improvements may be upgraded textures, shadows, lighting and other features previously reserved to high-end PCs. In theory, Xbox One X games don't need to offer 4K, high frame rates or HDR support, as developers are free to add enhancements of their choosing. If developers manually offer any kind of improvements to their games over original Xbox One versions, this still qualifies as an Xbox One X Enhanced title.

Shorter load times

Despite the Xbox One X still solely using a hard disk drive (HDD) for storage, the console promises to deliver faster load times. While adding higher resolution textures and effects will introduce more data to load, the console will be more efficient overall at loading up content. You'll also still see similar benefits to loading times with games not enhanced for the console.

Advanced physics

Other non-visual upgrades are also possible with the Xbox One X and can be leveraged depending on the priorities of the developer. In an interview with The Guardian, Xbox head Phil Spencer expanded on the enhancements Electronic Arts is planning to offer in Madden NFL 18, through the console. One of these will be improved physics to take full advantage of the console's power, even affecting small details like grass on the football pitch. This will be a less common upgrade and not leveraged by many titles but can provide additional depth not possible on existing hardware.

Matt Brown is Windows Central's Senior Editor, Xbox & PC, at Future. Following over seven years of professional consumer technology and gaming coverage, he’s focused on the world of Microsoft's gaming efforts. You can follow him on Twitter @mattjbrown.

37 Comments
  • WHY are people ******** about this tremendous piece of machine and it's price. WHO CARES if it coses 399$ or 499$. This Exceeds EVERYTHING there is are facilitates ..uuu so much more than we are used to now.. GET ONE!
  • Because I only pay an extra 50 bucks for playing the exact same game in a higher resolution.
  • Not true. It's not just higher res. Anthem for example will look nothing like that on PS4 Pro. The lighting, the textures, the water, the effects will all have big downgrades from the One X version. It's very clear that res is only a very small part of the improvement. Those textures in Forza 7 made GT Sport on the PS4 Pro look like a last gen textured game.
  • and it still had 30% overhead. I bet next year we will see games that fully take advantage of the Xbox One X. I hear devs only just started getting the dev kits.
  • Because on one hand you have people who just don't want to pay the price and on the other hand you have "PC Master Race" folks who are completely disconnected from regular people. The former will always claim everything is too pricy and the latter have completely forgotten that normal people buy laptops or premade towers from Dell, HP, Lenovo, etc. that are a pain to upgrade. Updating one of these towers (if you even can) often requires purchasing a better power supply and more ram in addition to the sacred chocolate fudge-coated GPU that can achieve the same results.
  • Nobody can make me convinced to pay that unless they show me something special. Xbox one s is not that different than 90's add on(mega cd,32x) madness.Same console, same games , only with enhanced graphics-and from my point of view only slightly enhanced- If you want to buy everything that they offer that's fine. But I believe if customers show a certain attitude towards products after judging them not just jump to buy them, that would be much beneficial for us. Xbox one and ps4 couldn't bring the same difference that ps3 brought over ps2 or ps2 brought over ps1. And now they are just trying to cover their lack of innovation. And this costs to customers like me. I am not going to buy a pro or x. Waiting for the new gen.
  • Matt - In your definition of native 4k, you say that it is outputting 4,096 x 2,160.. Is xbox 1x outputting DCI 4K resolutiuon? Don't think so... think you meant 3840x2160
  • Yes, actually 3840x2160 is in a 16:9 aspect ratio which 4K TVs are.
  • Welp, that wasn't supposed to happen - thanks for noticing! No DCI output on Xbox One X - only traditional 16:9 :P
  • 60fps are more important than real or fake 4k. You can feel the difference between 30 and 60fps but barely see the difference between fake 4k and real 4k. Look at all the E3 games. They looked awesome. Even with fake 4k.
    They can put the resources into the visual effects. I hope developers focus on 60fps and not on 4k for marketing.
    Both would be great but 60fps should be the first priority.
    And HDR is awesome.
  • I completely agree. I would be fine with 1080p at 60fps with just more onscreen visuals. Then again, I don't have a 4K display yet because I don't see a good reason yet to upgrade from my 1080p displays that look awesome. I do not think 4k at 30fps will be a good experience. 60fps makes a huge difference.
  • I thought the same thing until I saw the 4k HDR Bluray of Pacific Rim. It looks AMAZING!
  • How do you possible think that? Just curious.
  • I guess i should have added, "a first person shooter such as Halo" would not be good 4k at 30fps. 30fps vs 60fps is a big difference in shooters at least for hardcore gamers.
  • Halo will never run at 30fps. It will be 4K 60. or Dynamic 4K 60. Like Halo 5 with 1080p
  • Anything with fast motion would suck at 30fps.
  • Because online games have to be compatible on both system you would not see 60 fps on the Xbox One X unless the Xbox One S had a similar frame rate.  The frame rates have to match across the devices.  I believe that single player games will benefit the most, such as the War for Mordor game, or even FFXV.  The sky is the limit with these games.  I can't wait!
  • I would like to know more about the design of it, it's just a plain black box...was it intentional?!
  • "intentional"?
    what do you mean?
  • You want an alien beam? I'm not.
  • I'm not arguing whether or not it's worth the price for what it is. I think $499 is reasonable for a console with the specs and capability that it has. However, it's a bit overpriced for an upgrade just to achieve a slight improvement in graphics that probably won't be very noticable on my current setup. I've said it before and I'll say it again. Until I upgrade my TV (which won't happen until this one goes caput) or they start providing more details about VR/MR gaming, it's a pass from me. I'm happy to continue playing future titles the same way I am currently and waiting for the price to drop, which we all know they will.
  • The original Xbox one sold for 499 at launch and they sold. Not as well as the playstation but well enough considering the damn thing was 499. Anyone complaining about the price of the one x need not speak up. If it's too expensive then wait for the inevitable price drop. It will sell at launch and it will continue to sell after the price drop.
  • And I bought the original Xbox One at that price because it was a significant improvement over the Xbox 360 and was the future of the Microsoft console platform. As I said in my original post, it's just not worth that price to me for an upgrade with my current setup because the improvement will not be significant enough and I will continue to be able to play future releases on my current console. Eventually I'm sure I'll get one, just not right now. I just can't justify it right now.
  • The computational power improvement of X1X over X1 is significantly more than the improvement of X1 over X360. Just because you don't have a TV that can truly show the power doesn't make it a "slight" improvement.
  • Hoping this means I can finally play the Witcher 3 properly without the constant dips in framerate!
  • Until they add 4K and better textures - then you're back to square one ;)
  • Expect: Checkerboarding Dynamic Scaling 30 fps Reduced textures and lighting The same comprimised experience you get on the XBox One today trying to play games @1080p. The Xbox One X is equivalently underpowered (ironically almost the same amount) for true 4k resolutions.
  • It'll do 4K just fine
  • Please explain oh wise one. And try to use some facts and figures not hypotheticals. As some demo's have already shown they are having to use all of the things I listed.
  • It can do 4K fine on paper, but that's only with select games and highly-optimized titles so far. As with any hardware we can expect developers to get more familiar with the offerings over time, but there's still some cutbacks being made to get the outcome a developer aspires to.
  • Is/will there be any indication of One X Enhanced titles in the online store?
  • While we don't know exactly at this point in time, it's pretty safe to assume there will be some kind of indicator like Play Anywhere titles. There will likely be a One X Enhanced section in the store somewhere too. We'll hopefully be seeing another rework of the dashboard soon, so stuff may begin to appear/be detailed in the coming months (:
  • Matt Microsoft should hire you to promote theyre products since you do a better job at it than they do
  • I'd like to know how the HDD will be faster on the X over the One S or original Xbox One. I had the initial assumption that they were going to use an SHDD, but that's not the case, correct?
  • They've been kinda quiet on the One X drive options, only detailing a 1TB HDD right now. Would be cool to see the higher-end version use a SHDD, but only time will tell I guess :P
  • So no information on the actual hardware chosen for storage then. Probably the same slow HD they always use. What about the controller range? I read someone saying that it will have the same crappy range as the X1 because it doesn't have Bluetooth, is this true?
  • Probably will wait for iFixit.