Gaming

10 Awesome Xbox Series X|S Features You Should Use

Have you finally got an Xbox Series X or S? This game console from Microsoft is packed with features, so let’s take a look at the features to help you get the most out of everything your new console has to offer.
Game Pass

We could argue all day about whether Game Pass is technically a feature, but considering you get a $1 monthly subscription to Microsoft’s “all you can eat” service with your console, it could very well be. Game Pass might just be the best deal in gaming, which means there’s always something to play.

A Game Pass subscription allows you to download and play new and old games as they are added to the service. Games are added several times a month, including new releases and old games. Game Pass Ultimate includes access to the service on PC as well as EA Play, which lets you play even more games from EA’s past catalog.

Xbox, keyboard and mouse for cloud gaming

Grid of titles available on Xbox Game Pass

After the end of the free trial period, the Ultimate subscription costs $14.99 per month, which is roughly equal to the cost of three full games per year. Game Pass is a buffet that you can freely choose from, allowing you to try out and love games you might never have bought otherwise. You’ll also get access to all of Microsoft’s own games (including major releases of the Halo and Forza franchises) from day one.

Share button

Sony was the first to add a share button to the controller with the release of the PS4, and now everyone is doing it. You can use the Share button to take screenshots and short shots of gameplay. By default, a single press takes a photo and a long press takes a video.

You can customize this behavior using the Xbox Accessories app that comes preinstalled on your console. Press the Xbox button, then select My Games & Apps > See All > Apps to find it. To change the format and size of your saved clips and screenshots, press the Xbox button on your controller and go to Profile & system > Settings > Settings > Capture & share.

Once you’ve saved your clips, you can easily access them on your mobile device by downloading the Xbox app for iPhone or Android for easy sharing.

backward compatibility

Microsoft has made every effort to ensure that the Xbox family of consoles are compatible with the Xbox One family. This means you have a large number of previous generation games, many of which have been improved and patched to take advantage of faster hardware. You can download Xbox One games from the Microsoft Store the same way you download Xbox Series games.

Plus, there’s a wide range of Xbox 360 games and original Xbox games at your disposal. Many of these are available through Game Pass, including classics such as Psychonauts (Xbox) and Viva Piñata (Xbox 360), but many more can be found in the Xbox backwards compatible games library.

Auto HDR

Many older games can benefit from the improvements that come standard with new games. One of them is Auto-HDR, which adds the brightness of HDR to games that never supported it. This operation is carried out by automatic learning. This works well in most situations where things like the sun and flashlights appear brighter than other objects on the screen.

Automatic HDR switch for Xbox series

Most games that support this feature have Auto HDR enabled by default. You will need to set up HDR on your Xbox before you can use it, then you will be able to control it on a per-game basis using the Game Control option available by pressing the More button on your controller while browsing. your game library.

You can also disable Auto HDR entirely by pressing the Xbox button on your controller and going to Power & System > Settings > General > TV & Display Options > Video Modes, then unchecking Auto HDR. Purists and night owls may prefer this option, but we recommend giving it a try to give your older games a more modern feel.

Improved FPS

In addition to Auto-HDR, Microsoft has also developed another feature called FPS Boost to improve the performance of older games. You’ll find this option in the same Game Controls menu you used to enable Auto-HDR, allowing you to turn it on or off on a per-game basis.

Activate FPS Boost on Xbox through the Manage Game & Add-ons menu (manage game and accessories)

As the name suggests, FPS Boost increases the frame rate of older games for a smoother and more responsive gaming experience. It does this through system-level tweaks (rather than software fixes) that take advantage of the more powerful hardware of the Xbox Series X and Series S consoles.

Most games that support FPS Boost have this feature enabled by default, but you will need to enable it for others. Due to the nature of this setting, you may experience stability issues and many games may not support it at all since things like game physics or weather cycles are directly related to framerate.

Xbox Cloud Gaming

If you’re a Game Pass Ultimate subscriber (including a $1 trial), you’ll have access to Xbox Cloud Gaming, which allows you to play games over the internet without downloading or installing. The effectiveness of this feature depends on the speed of your Internet connection (20 Mbps or higher) and the distance between you and the server.

Native games always provide a more stable and responsive experience, and some games (such as shooters or competitive beat ’em ups) will never fully fit the cloud gaming template. But in order to try out a game before jumping into a big download, right from the Xbox Dashboard, Xbox Cloud Gaming is a handy tool to have on hand.

Xbox Cloud Gaming also lets you play Game Pass games almost anywhere, including PC or Mac, Android, iPhone and iPad, and select smart TVs. All you need is a compatible controller, a good connection speed, and an active Game Pass Ultimate subscription. Because Microsoft stores your backups in the cloud, you can even pick up where you left off.

Emulating retro games with RetroArch

Xbox series consoles are not only great for backwards compatibility, but they are also a great way to play retro games. By putting your Xbox in developer mode and installing the RetroArch multi-system emulator, you can play everything from classic arcade games to PlayStation 2, GameCube and Dreamcast games.

RetroArch for the Xbox series via UWP

This has a few small downsides. You’ll need to pay Microsoft a $19 developer fee to unlock this mode, which lets you install Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps on your console. To do this, you will also need to restart the console in developer mode, which can take several minutes each time.

But it’s worth it to have access to many older platforms on your Xbox. Just make sure you are aware of the legal aspects of using ROMs and emulators.

120 Hz gaming

While high refresh rate games have been the mainstay of the PC for years, the Xbox Series and PlayStation 5 generation are the first generation to go beyond 60Hz on a console. It depends on two important parameters: your screen refresh rate and whether you have an HDMI 2.1 port.

120Hz means the screen refreshes 120 times per second, compared to 60 times on the old 60Hz screen. 120Hz modes require high frame rates to be useful, and not all games can use them. To achieve higher frame rates, many games need to reduce visual fidelity, such as draw distance or overall render resolution.

While not many games support this feature, some, such as Halo: Infinite for Xbox Series X and indie game The Touryst, have dedicated 120Hz modes. These modes provide a smoother and more responsive gaming experience with high quality graphics. You can find out if your Xbox can use these modes by running the calibration tool in Xbox Settings.

Preload games before buying

Preloading a game means you download it before it’s released so it’s ready to go. This helps avoid long download delays on release day. There was a time when you had to pre-order a game in order to preload it, but as more and more publishers refrain from preview codes and renegotiate embargoes before release day, a recipe for disaster.

But if you’re using the Xbox app for iPhone or Android, you can search for games and download them to your console without having to purchase them first. Once the game is released, you will be able to read trusted reviews and decide whether to pay full price, wait for a sale, or abandon the game.

Using hard drives as cold storage

Microsoft went down a proprietary path to expand the storage space of the Xbox Series X and Series S. This means you’ll have to buy expensive hard drives that fit your needs. This means you have to buy expensive expansion cards specifically designed to expand the storage space you have to run your own Xbox series games. Luckily, there is a more economical way to increase your storage space.

Using USB hard drives as “cold storage”, you can move games to and from the internal hard drive as needed. This allows you to archive games for later use, avoiding re-downloading the entire game. If hard drives are a bit slow for you, consider using an external SSD, which is a good compromise between performance and price.

You can also use external drives to run older games such as Xbox One, Xbox 360, and original Xbox games (although loading times will be faster if you transfer them to the internal drive first).

Xbox Series X is a great buy

The Xbox Series X is cheaper than a PC, offers high-quality graphics, allows you to use your existing TV or display (even if it’s not 4K), and a Game Pass subscription means you always have something to play.

That’s why a high-end Microsoft console is a great buy if you can get your hands on it.

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