Rolling into May 2020 the Xbox Series X was seemingly in a position of total mind share domination, with gamers well briefed on just how much power the next Xbox is supposedly bringing to the table and, what was even better, soon they were to see just how jaw-dropping games running on the console would look at in the Inside Xbox First Look Xbox Series X Gameplay event.
- Just in: This Google Pixel 5 design is so good, iPhone 12 should steal it
- Hot video: Jaw-dropping PS5 demo puts Xbox Series X on notice
And with Sony still scrambling to recover from its badly received The Road to PS5 event back in March, and still leaving gamers in the dark as to what the console even looks like, it seemed that Microsoft was really winning the early stages of the next-gen console war and racking up the pre-orders.
That momentum, though, was stopped dead in its tracks when the Xbox Series X Gameplay event went down spectacularly badly with gamers from all around the world. Gamers were disappointed that, actually, very little actual gameplay was shown, and the games shown off didn't even look particularly spectacular either.
Even what was considered the flagship game of the show, Assassin's Creed: Valhalla, did not get any gameplay shown, with just a slightly extended version of the pre-released trailer being played. That was the game that the show had been advertised off the back of, and its essential no show did not please gamers, who has expected to see just what the Xbox Series X was capable of with the new epic open world stab-'em-up.
When respected games industry presenter Geoff Keighley asked gamers on Twitter how they rated the Xbox event after it has finished, the results were terrible reading for Microsoft, with a whopping 42.4% rating the showing as a D, and a further 27.3% of gamers ranked it a C. Two thirds of gamers thought the show was a bust.
So what's your grade for Xbox event today? #SummerGameFestMay 7, 2020
However, things have now gotten even worse, with a very alarming piece of information slipping out about Assassin's Creed: Valhalla, one of the Xbox Series X launch games, running on the hot new Microsoft console.
That's because, as confirmed to Eurogamer in Portugal, Ubisoft has just confirmed that, as of right now, with mere months to go until the game hits store shelves, it runs at "at least 30 fps" on Xbox Series X.
Here's the quote:
"Currently, we can guarantee that Assassin's Creed Valhalla will run at least 30 FPS."
Now, on the face of it, that doesn't sound too bad. But then you realise that if the game could run any faster on the Xbox Series X in terms of frame rate then Ubisoft would of confirmed that. As why would you advertise a lower figure for your game? Indeed, Eurogamer itself notes that:
"Ubisoft's words therefore suggest that at this point the game runs at 30 FPS on the Xbox Series X"
The Verge's Tom Warren has since gone to Twitter with comments from Microsoft on the frame rate issue:
Xbox Series X games won’t run at 60fps “standard output.” Microsoft tells me: “Ultimately, it is up to individual developers to determine how they leverage the power and speed of Xbox Series X.” https://t.co/6xYMwBWRSuMay 11, 2020
It seems therefore that, despite the Xbox Series X being loaded with 12 teraflops of graphical power, it will largely be down to individual publishers skill in working with Microsoft's platform when it comes round to if a game will run at 60fps or not.
If Sony has indeed played its cards right with developers, as it has said it has done, working to make creating games on the platform and getting the most out of the hardware as possible, then this Xbox Series X Assassin's Creed Valhalla issue raises the question of whether, actually, will we see many cross-platform titles running better on PS5?
After all, the history of video game consoles shows us that when a console is hard to program for, and for its hardware to really be made the most of, sales and popularity suffer. Just look at the Sega Saturn as a prime example of that. It's hardware was more powerful that the original Sony PlayStation's, but it was incredibly hard to program for, and that contributed to its downfall.
Only time will tell, and here's hoping that Assassin's Creed Valhalla looks and runs brilliantly on both next-gen systems. Hopefully we will hear and see more about how Xbox Series X games run soon.