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 ZeniMax Online Studio’s Ryan Woodland, Technical Director on the epic multiplayer RPG The Elder Scrolls Online.
What specifically is your development team doing to enhance The Elder Scrolls Online for Xbox One X?
For the Xbox One X version of ESO, we pushed our team to aim for the same incredible visuals as a PC running on Ultra settings – and we’re excited to say that we got very close. We’ve added some amazing graphical features thanks to the power of Xbox One X, like support for full native 4K rendering and display, enhanced bit-depth throughout our entire rendering pipeline for true HDR, SSAO shadow enhancements, real-time water reflections, and a greatly increased view distance. We think Xbox One ESO players are going to love seeing the vast and beautiful lands of Tamriel in an all new way with the Xbox One X enhancements.
How do these enhancements impact the gaming experience?
By taking advantage of the extra horsepower, players will find themselves in a vastly more immersive visual presentation of the world of Tamriel. Anyone playing ESO on an Xbox One X – in 4K or HD – will notice significant visual differences between Xbox One/S and Xbox One X.
Why did your development team choose to focus on these enhancement areas?
Since ESO was also developed for PC, and much of the game’s core tech was written there, we had both a very scalable engine and a great target to shoot for on the Xbox One X. Tops on the list was adding HDR and true native 4K support, because together they have the most substantial boost to visual quality. Once we had those working, we found that we still had a lot of horsepower left over, so we added more and more features. We tested a wide variety of enhancements and decided on our ship features based on overall performance and the most visually impactful features.
How do you expect fans of The Elder Scrolls Online will respond to seeing/playing it on Xbox One X with these enhancements?
ESO is a very large game, both in terms of territory to explore as well as game systems – which makes it perfect for the Xbox One X, as it has the horsepower to show off Tamriel in all its glory. I think Xbox One ESO players will love seeing some of their favorite locations rendered in a more detailed and immersive way. New players are going to be immediately drawn into an Elder Scrolls world they’ve seen before, but now displayed with all of the latest, amazing visual technology. You would need a very expensive PC to reach the level of graphical fidelity that we’re getting from Xbox One X, so it’s a great platform to explore the best console MMO, with the best graphics.
How has the process been to get the game up and running on Xbox One X?
With a console so new, we had to upgrade our internal pipelines to support it, but once we were through that, we were able to get the game up and running very quickly. The toughest part of developing for the Xbox One X was determining which features to support to take advantage of all the new horsepower. We had a lot of choices and had to prioritize the elements that would deliver a version of the game that looked gorgeous and performed flawlessly.
What enhancement were you most excited about to explore leveraging for The Elder Scrolls Online on Xbox One X?
That’s a great question, but I think the answer is that all of the enhancements at once truly make for a graphically immersive game experience. If I had to pick just one, though, I’d probably pick our native 4K support, as it just looks really good at that resolution. HDR also adds great color depth to almost any scene, and of course the extended view distance just makes the world seem larger and more alive. I recognize that’s three, not one, but taken together, they allow you to just sit back and truly enjoy the beautiful sites of Tamriel.
What does 4K and HDR mean for your game, games in the future and development at your studio?
Not to be too trite about this, but 4K and HDR are going to be standard features in the future, and it is great for us to have the opportunity to present ESO to the Xbox and Elder Scrolls community with these features – right now. So, we feel we’re getting ahead, delivering on the future of video game visuals by supporting HDR and 4K in our game engine, right now.
Thanks to Ryan 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!