Less than two weeks ago Microsoft finally released the most powerful video game console ever made, The Xbox One X.
It came with promises that owners would be able to play their favorite games in 4K resolution at 60 frames-per-second (provided those games were optimized for it by the developers).
Now if you’ve been following video games at least remotely for the last 5 to 10 years, you know that whenever a new console comes around, typically a racing game is used as a technical showcase to demonstrate just how powerful that console is.
If you’re like me and mostly play racing games then you probably want to know how your favorite racing games perform and look on the Xbox One X console before buy one.
Luckily for you, we can help with that! We played Forza Motorsport 7, F1 2017, and Project CARS 2 on the brand new Xbox One X and the standard Xbox One, recorded gameplay footage of both and created comparison videos.
NOTE: Microsoft sent us an Xbox One X console for free so we could do this. Each of the games we tested were actually already sent to us by their respective developers for the purposes of review before their releases.
NOTE 2: Also, in addition to playing games at 4K the Xbox One X is also capable of displaying games in High Dynamic Range (HDR), however the 4K TV we used for this test is not HDR capable so we’ll strictly be talking about resolution and graphic detail.
With that out of the way, let’s get started!
Forza Motorsport 7
Let’s start with Forza Motorsport 7 shall we? Forza is unique among the other two games since it is a first-party Microsoft title and Forza Motorsport’s engine was used to test early prototypes of the Xbox One X.
So in theory Forza Motorsport 7 should be the most optimized for Xbox One X than any other game.
The question is, how much better does it look/play vs a standard Xbox One? The answer is: it does in fact look better and plays just as well.
Forza Motorsport 7 runs at 60fps on a standard Xbox One as well as Xbox One X so when it comes to gameplay there is no discernable difference but that’s a good thing.
I remember having fears that maybe Turn 10 Studios would cut the frame-rate of Forza 7 to 30 fps so that the console could run the game at 4k but luckily the “found one that could do both”.
When it comes to looks, the most easily noticed improvement is the detail. Forza 7 looks amazing in HD but you can’t really appreciate just how much detail there is until you’ve played the game running in 4K.
We did the test on the Long Beach street course and we were amazed at how much better the buildings around “The Pike” looked. It was the same for the concrete barriers flanking each side of the track.
More impressive was the enhanced textures and material surfaces on the cars. We did our test with LaFerrari and the higher resolution details as well as the way the surfaces interacted with the light from the environment really showed just how faithful Turn 10 was to the real car when they modeled it.
Project CARS 2
Before I say anything else, let me just remind everyone here that I suck at Project CARS 2 so if the gameplay looks wonky, that’s me not the game. Okay? Okay!
When it comes to visuals I think Project CARS 2 greatest strength was the way it rendered track environments. Its lighting and weather system is pretty much second to none and that’s before any enhancements from Xbox One X.
Having said that, it should come as no surprise that with Xbox One X enhancement, the tracks in Project CARS 2 look amazing! We did our test on Road America because visually, there is a lot to take in on that track.
If you really want to see how the game takes advantage of 4K resolution, look closely at the trees which overhang on the back straight. The difference really is night and day.
When it comes to the cars, the difference isn’t as dramatic. The cars definitely look better on Xbox One X due to higher resolution textures but, it seems that in general the cars do not have as much detail as the cars in Forza 7 do so it is slightly harder to see the difference.
However Project CARS 2 has the massive advantage of being able to play any track in the game at night, in the rain, and in several types of daylight lighting from dawn to sunset. When playing a game like this on a sizable 4K TV, that is where the real feast for your eyes is going to come from anyway.
Of the three games tested, F1 2017 probably has the most dramatic visual improvement. That’s crazy to say since Forza Motorsport 7 had the inside track the whole time but we have to call it like we see it.
We did the F1 2017 test on the Singapore GP track at night and my god. It was a huge difference! Everything looked better, sharper, and more detailed. It was a huge shock.
Here is an even bigger shocker. Technically, F1 2017 does not run in “native” 4K on the Xbox One X. Instead, it uses a technique called “checkerboard rendering” to achieve 4K resolution.
You can click the link for a detailed explanation but the gist is that checkerboard rendering is basically taking an image that is higher resolution than HD but not quite 4K, then upscaling it to meet 4k resolution.
Typically that technique receives negative criticism but the developers at Codemasters had a good reason for going this route.
In an article on AR12Gaming.com they explained that at first they were going to go the native 4K route but they found that if they used checkerboard rendering instead, it left “a significant amount” of graphic resources available to use on other environmental elements like shadows, reflections, and track shaders.
In this case, it really worked out for them as the game looks amazing on Xbox One X. Though, it should be noted that some graphical issues still remain in the game like the occasional screen tearing we pointed out in our review.
Is it worth it to upgrade to the Xbox One X if you already have a standard Xbox One or an Xbox One S? If you have an HDTV and you’re planning on sticking with it for a while then I would advise also sticking with your Xbox One S or standard Xbox One.
While it is true that Xbox One X still makes games look better on 1080p TV’s, you still wouldn’t really be getting the full benefit. At $499 the Xbox One X isn’t cheap so if you’re going to spend that kind of coin its best to be sure you’re getting your full money’s worth.
However, if you have a modern 4K TV with HDR capability (HDR 10 capability specifically) I would say it is definitely worth the upgrade.
Even if you exclusively play racing games on console, you’ll still get plenty of value out of the Xbox One X. Pretty much all major racing games look better on the One X though as our tests show, some have more dramatic improvements than other
You might be able to get a healthy trade in value for the Xbox One S towards the Xbox One X right now as well so if you’re going to do it, I’d say do it now.
If you were on the fence on purchasing an Xbox One X, I hope this helps you reach a decision. Also, if you want to see how the new Need For Speed Payback looks like running in 4K, check out our review.
If you have your own thoughts on whether or not the Xbox One X is worth it, please share them in the comments below or tweet to us at @MotorworldHype.