DF Direct Weekly: Baldur’s Gate 3 on Xbox Series X and S – why feature parity matters

DF Direct Weekly: Baldur's Gate 3 on Xbox Series X and S - why feature parity matters

The main talking point in DF Direct Weekly #101 centers around Larian’s announcement that while Baldur’s Gate 3 is not a console exclusive, there is currently no release date for the Xbox Series version. of the game due to technical issues. The game is in development for Xbox, there are no exclusivity deals, but it’s difficult to get split-screen co-op working on Xbox Series S – and that’s causing a delay.

“We’ve had an Xbox version of Baldur’s Gate 3 in development for some time now,” a statement from Larian reads. “We encountered technical issues during the development of the Xbox port which prevented us from feeling 100% confident to announce it until we were certain we had found the correct solutions – in particular, we did not We weren’t able to get split-screen co-op to work to the same standard on Xbox Series X and S, which is a requirement for us to ship.”

The key question here is why split-screen co-op is a “requirement”, which we’ll discuss in a moment, but the developer is quick to point out that “no platform exclusivity prevents us from releasing BG3 on Xbox day and date, should it be a technical possibility.If and when we announce other platforms, we want to ensure that each release lives up to our standards and expectations.

DF Direct Weekly #101 arrives “atcha”, as they say, with Rich Leadbetter, John Linneman and Tom Morgan on mics.

On the face of it, there’s a simple solution to this – and that’s to remove the split-screen mode from the Xbox Series S version of the game in the same way that many Series S titles lack ray-tracing modes or 60fps/120fps performance modes. However, the difference is that split screen is a game feature, not a visual feature, and at this point the “requirements” described by Larian may not be set exclusively by the developer, but rather by the license holder. platform: Microsoft.

Going back to the Xbox One X and PS4 Pro era, Sony and Microsoft had key requirements for how games could scale from base consoles to upgraded models as part of their technical requirements checklist. Resolutions could increase. Performance could improve. New visual modes could be added. However, both platform holders insisted that there was feature parity in terms of gameplay between games running on their vanilla models and the upgraded counterparts. And of course, you couldn’t release a game exclusively for the upgraded machine only – it had to be available on the standard console as well.

Rules like this are still in place today when shipping games for Xbox Series X and Series S. Of course, you don’t need to provide RT upgrades or high performance modes on Series S, but you must provide the same gameplay package. Larian’s statement is by no means clear as to whether this is a self-imposed requirement or whether it depends on Microsoft’s requirements of what you can or cannot do with it. the S-series. Removing the optional split-screen for the S-series would solve the issue, but Larian isn’t considering it. This suggests that feature parity – including split-screen co-op – is indeed a mandate from the platform holder, which I’ve confirmed with sources.

00:00:00 Introduction
00:00:45 News 01: Baldur’s Gate 3 hits the Series S snag
00:16:27 News 02: Nvidia AI video upscaling tested!
00:24:06 News 03: The Humanity demo impresses
00:30:12 News 04: Final Fantasy 16 gameplay footage presented!
00:41:10 News 05: Luminous Productions merges with Square Enix
00:46:56 Supporter Q1: Do the new Pokémon and Chrono Cross patches fix these games?
00:50:39 Support Q2: Is there a database of Alex optimized settings for PC?
00:51:46 Supporter Q3: With more games launching in hard form, do you think consumers will start delaying purchases from day one?
00:58:00 Supporter Q4: Is now the best time to remake demanding 7th Gen titles, now that console hardware has caught up with their ambitions?
01:03:25 Supporter Q5: Will this generation of consoles last more than 7 years?
01:08:43 Supporter Q6: If you could ban an object or concept related to video games, what would it be?

So what happens next? Obviously, the overall goal should be to get a game as promising as Baldur’s Gate 3 on the Xbox platform. Both Sony and Microsoft have support teams and part of their role is to help developers get the most out of their hardware. On the Xbox side, ATG – the Advanced Technology Group – plays a key role here, so in a high-profile case like this, help from the platform holder may be forthcoming. Clearly, Larian himself will obviously be highly motivated to break down technical hurdles and also maximize the return on a significant development investment, so he may also be looking for solutions independently.

However, an uncomfortable choice faces the platform holder when faced with scenarios similar to this in the future. Should it allow Xbox Series X and Series S titles to diverge in terms of features? Could split-screen gaming in particular be categorized as a visual feature like ray tracing or a performance mode? If a change is made, should Microsoft relax its rules for other features under pressure from other developers reaching the limits of the S-series hardware with other features? I don’t see that happening and to be honest, I wouldn’t like it to happen.

Xbox Series S can be considered an “anti-Digital Foundry” machine as it obviously has hardware disadvantages compared to Series X and PlayStation 5. However, it sold exceptionally well. By the end of the gen, there may be more S-series machines than X-series, simply because of its affordability. I think the machine has a crucial role to play in today’s climate, as gaming hardware is getting more and more expensive, especially on PC. Even on consoles, we’ve yet to see a cheaper PS5 or Series X machines – even though we’re in year three of the current-gen. On the contrary, prices are rising.

In a world where Verizon is able to sell a brand new Series S for $150 and the machine is super cheap on the used market, it’s clear that the Xbox junior is the outlier and has a crucial role to play in the generation so characteristic parity is important and while split-screen co-op may be closer to a visual mode, the fact is that a line has to be drawn somewhere. Whether that line will be redesigned later in the gen remains to be seen, but for now at least feature parity between consoles is a good thing to have on the consumer side, although of course that’s an added challenge. for developers in terms of critical mass, the PS5 is likely to be the primary target platform.

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Article source https://www.eurogamer.net/digitalfoundry-2023-df-direct-weekly-baldurs-gate-3-vs-xbox-why-feature-parity-between-series-x-and-s-matters


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