One month after launch, we highlight six games that showcase Xbox Series X and PS5. Ray tracing, HDR, 120Hz, and big open worlds are now a reality on console
Nearly a month after Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 launched, we thought it’d be appropriate to share some thoughts about the games that we think showcase the two console best so far, and why they’re important as part of this new generation. We picked six titles and arranged them by 120Hz frame rate, HDR/ray tracing, and open world design.
For the first time in console history, we have big “AAA” titles running at 120Hz or frames per second on consoles. That makes a big difference in genres that put an emphasis on responsive controls and reflexes, most so in first person shooters and racers. Sure, having double the 60Hz standard or four times 30Hz works nice in every game, but some may not benefit all that much. Open world/exploration titles may even suffer from overly fast refresh as those typically require more methodical, measured movement. It’s hard to pick up on a collectible at 120Hz or faster.
But if you have a fast gaming monitor, then PS5 and Xbox Series X currently offer several major games that support 120Hz performance modes. Mind you, neither achieve this at 4K for now, with resolutions ranging from 1080p to 1800p (estimated) in order to accommodate the extra frames. Still, if you prefer 120Hz to 30Hz or 60Hz, then Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold war doesn’t just have a long title, it also has a superb 120Hz mode that’s especially cool in multiplayer.
Arcade racer Dirt 5 is another game we’ve played a lot of in 120Hz, and we enjoy everything it has to offer. It’s not the most simulation-accurate release in racer history, but the high refresh mode gives Dirt 5 a very responsive nature that you’ll probably appreciate. Give it a spin if you have a suitably-fitted monitor or are looking to get one.
HDR everywhere! The new consoles have fully committed to high dynamic range, so you should have a display with at least DisplayHDR 400. Also, real time hardware-based ray tracing works on PS5 and Xbox Series X. Maybe not as much as on the latest round of PC graphics cards, but close enough.
If you like your games super bright, colorful, and almost dazzlingly reflective, then Godfall is for you. This slasher/looter/shooter combines elements of many other titles, from Dark Souls and Devil May Cry to Warframe and Anthem. We like it a lot as there’s always more to collect, more ways to level up, and the basic gameplay loop is very satisfying. Godfall on PS5 offers resolution and frame rate modes, the latter being our choice. Resolution mode forces 4K but even 30Hz appears inconsistent with that, while frame rate mode is probably 1440p and is clearly a locked 60Hz.
You’ve probably seen many screenshots of Spider-Man Miles Morales showcasing its ray tracing performance. But we’re betting not many have shared screens of the Empire State Building lit up for Christmas! The ray tracing and HDR work wonders in Miles Morales, though NYC remains arguably the biggest star of the show, with incredible attention to detail, mind-bogglingly fast draw, and a very time-appropriate holiday vibe to everything. And yes, the ray traced bells jingle in 3D audio thanks to the PS5’s new audio design.
Potentially the genre that gains the most from PS5 and Xbox Series X is the venerable third person open world stable of games. We’ve been playing a lot of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla in 60Hz mode, which averages 1800p from what we can surmise. There’s also a decent 4K 30Hz mode but again, given the small difference in resolution, we prefer the extra frames. What impresses us most about Valhalla is the lush, detailed, and impressively drawn world. There’s very little pop-in, unlike previous generation games in this genre. Impressive indeed. Loading times are faster than Xbox One and PS4, but if you’ve been using SSDs on PC then it’s not something you haven’t seen before.
Demon’s Souls is another one we’ve been playing a lot of. Running at what we think is 1440p and a confirmed 60Hz, this complete remake of the 2009 title that launched the Dark Souls franchise looks and runs spectacularly. Exclusive to PS5, Demon’s Souls could potentially be the most “next gen” (really current gen now after the launch) title out there, and a monitor that combines high refresh with good HDR and IPS would do it justice.
Because PS5 and Xbox Series X for now depend to a large degree on dynamic, variable resolution, ironically they may just work better with smaller displays. Why ironically? Maybe because many of us went and bought new TVs with HDMI 2.1 in preparation for the new generation. However, because 4K 120Hz is still not a thing with the new consoles, HDMI 2.1 isn’t necessary. And because most of the games we’ve tried run best in the range between 1080p and 1800p or so, a 27” or 32” display offers much sharper and “denser” visuals than a 65” TV that stretches the same image to 8.3 million pixels.
We’re not saying don’t get a new TV, but maybe until developers catch up to the new hardware, smaller form factor monitors aren’t such a bad idea.
Whatever the case may be, we hope you got your Xbox Series X or PS5 and are having a great time as the holidays near!
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