Inside Xbox One X Enhanced: Halo 5

Many of gaming’s most compelling stories come from those who’ve helped to create our favorite Xbox One games. In our Inside Xbox One X Enhanced series, these creators will share the behind-the-scenes accounts of the work involved in enhancing these epic games for Xbox One X, how they’ve helped chart the course of the world’s most powerful console, and what that means for the future of gaming. Today, we’ll be chatting with 343 Industries’ Chris Lee, Studio Head of FPS Games, about the action-packed shooter Halo 5: Guardians.

What specifically is your development team doing to enhance Halo 5: Guardians for Xbox One X?

The Xbox One X provides a ton of additional power that we’ve used to lift the Halo 5: Guardians resolution to 4K Ultra HD while maintaining the smooth 60fps gameplay experience. Additionally, the team was able to go in and change some level of detail settings so we can render more detail further away from the player.

The Xbox One X update that enables 4K on Xbox One X is also the 11th free content release we’ve created for Halo 5: Guardians. Along with Xbox One X enhancements, the “Overtime” update includes the multiplayer game mode Oddball, support for the new “Halo 5: Guardians Local Server” app on Windows 10 that lets gamers use their Windows 10 PC into a local server for Halo 5 custom games, new in-game skins, and weapon tuning updates. These content updates are available to all Xbox One players!

How do these enhancements impact the gaming experience?

Playing Halo 5 in 4K shows off a ton of detail on our characters, weapons, and vehicles that was not possible to see in 1080p.  From the materials and stitches on our Spartan’s gloves to operator instructions on the ARs all the little details really shine. H5 4k is not only a visual treat, but the enhanced power of Xbox One X has the same smooth gameplay throughout campaign and multiplayer, especially in massive Warzone matches and frenetic campaign maps. The load times are also significantly faster (especially noticeable in campaign), and the in-game cutscenes look beautiful when viewing in full fidelity at 4k.

Why did your development team choose to focus on these enhancement areas?

When we built Halo 5: Guardians, the team spent a lot of time and effort to create beautiful textures and assets in the game that were not possible to fully appreciate at 1080p on Xbox One. Gamers saw some of these details in Halo 5: Forge on Windows 10, which supports running in 4K. We were immediately excited about increasing the resolution, so Xbox One X gamers can appreciate the full fidelity of our art assets.

During development we found that with the extra power of Xbox One X we could also increase the level of detail on objects at distances that are further away from the player. This helps with the way we transition between assets and creates a much better visual experience during gameplay.

How do you expect fans of Halo 5: Guardians will respond to playing it on Xbox One X with these enhancements?

The amount of visual detail that pops in 4K, from the texture of your Spartan’s glove holding a Magnum to the crisp details of the world of Sanghelios, really adds to the overall feel of the game. The amount of detail that players didn’t know was there will be a nice surprise.

How has the process been to get the game up and running on Xbox One X?

The process has been great. We wanted to get our hands on Xbox One X development hardware as soon as possible. From there our engineers in 343 and at our partner Skybox Labs started cranking to get things rolling in 4k.

SkyBox Labs has been a great partner co-developing Halo 5, Halo 5: Forge, and things like our “Overtime” update which includes adding Xbox One X support for 4K. They were instrumental in helping us deliver the Xbox One X enhancements, and I am excited to continue this partnership for our future projects!

What enhancement were you most excited about leveraging for Halo 5: Guardians on Xbox One X?

The ability to play Halo 5 at such high visual fidelity while also having faster load times and smooth 60fps gameplay is something I’m really looking forward to sharing with our community.

What does 4K and HDR mean for your game, games in the future and development at your studio?

The team is excited to think of new ways to leverage the power and fidelity of the Xbox One X. We have a lot of ambition for future projects. 4k lets us show a ton of detail in our assets. HDR is a great technology for a sci-fi game with vibrant color and FXs as a critical part of our gameplay sandbox. We are excited to get our hands on it so we create intense new visuals for our universe.

Thanks to Chris for taking the time to chat with us about Xbox One X Enhanced. We’ll be bringing you more interviews with more developers in the future, so stay tuned to Xbox Wire!