Xbox One Intelligent Delivery: Everything you need to know

Xbox (Image credit: Windows Central)

Modern flagship consoles push cutting-edge visuals, with systems like Xbox One X touting support for 4K resolutions, High Dynamic Range (HDR) and other enhancements. Unfortunately, graphical upgrades often mean demanding file sizes – sometimes doubling already overwhelming installations.

Microsoft is laying the foundations for this future, adopting a new solution for space-saving on its console. Freeing up your hard drive without limiting the Xbox One's capabilities, "Intelligent Delivery" could be a big step in combatting growing file sizes. Here's what you need to know and what it means for you.

What is Xbox One Intelligent Delivery?

Intelligent Delivery is a new option for Xbox One developers, introduced with the aim of reducing game install sizes. The feature allows the console to selectively download and unpack assets for specific titles, seamlessly filtering out unnecessary content. Rather than serving everything the game has on offer, tailoring only a part of the game cuts installations to a fraction of the size. This is all managed seamlessly behind the scenes, leaving many unaware of its existence.

Games with support for Intelligent Delivery are developed to accommodate this incremental approach to distribution and are comprised of modular blocks. These sectors are cataloged and installed on top of the base game, in accordance with player preferences. And for those who need to them, additional modules can be accessed after the initial installation. With a majority of Xbox One consoles only packing 500GB internal drives, this eases the load on those without storage to burn.

How Intelligent Delivery saves space on Xbox One

Microsoft's rollout of Intelligent Delivery is underway, with a growing subset of titles already taking advantage of its benefits. Visually enhanced Xbox One X games all leverage the system, with 4K assets distributed on top of the otherwise identical content. This allows Microsoft to push the most out of Xbox One X, without bloating the install size on previous console revisions.

Advantages can also be seen across the complete Xbox One family, cutting out unused languages and other regional content with the help of Intelligent Delivery. Uncompressed audio files can be one of the biggest bloats in modern games, especially when accounting for a wide variety of markets. Using the system, languages can be installed around system preferences, without limiting inclusivity.

Wider-scale examples of Intelligent Delivery could also be on the way, breaking out whole modes or levels into separate downloads. After completing the campaign and exclusively playing multiplayer, games could remove the single-player install to automatically save space. Later levels could also be withheld until the player is closer to accessing them, as seen in some mobile games. It's up to developers to adopt the feature and find the best fit for their titles.

How to use Xbox One Intelligent Delivery

Emphasizing its intelligent angle, ideal Intelligent Delivery occurs without the end user realizing. With efforts being taken to obscure its inclusion, keeping track of games that utilize the feature can be challenging. Games like Assassin's Creed Origins have documented the use of the feature, though this seemingly doesn't extend beyond language selection.

343 Industries outlined plans to integrate Intelligent Delivery into Halo: The Master Chief Collection, under its upcoming major update to correct missteps at launch. With four Halo games bundled into one package, the studio is reworking its backend structure to sector off "games, languages and content areas."

Halo community director, Brian Jarrard, has shared how the game's custom installation page will be presented, breaking down games and modes into separate packages. This will allow players to choose between both multiplayer and campaign for each game, splitting five games into nine downloads. Assuming a seamless approach is implemented for language too, a game of this size could be an impressive showcase for the technology.

What are your thoughts on Xbox One Intelligent Delivery? Drop into the comments section below and let us know.

Matt Brown

Matt Brown was formerly a 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.