The folks over at Digital Foundry have once again taken a look at Xbox Series S, this time to see how our little digital-only box tackles ray tracing. This element of 'next-gen' has proved a bit of a stumbling block at times for Microsoft's budget-friendly console, which is perhaps expected given its incredible value.
In this clip, the team at DF takes a look at every single major title to support ray tracing on Series S, from Metro Exodus' current-gen upgrade to the Matrix Awakens demo and more. The results are mixed, with some titles impressing while others fall short of what the Xbox Series X can do.
"So we've proven that RT can work on Xbox Series S - and it can be transformative. To see a 4TF GPU produce quality along the lines of Metro Exodus, The Matrix Awakens or Fortnite is quite the feat. However, ray tracing is a very demanding process and that is obviously a factor on more limited hardware platforms like the Series S, but the greater issue is the lack of RAM on the system.
With 10GB of RAM - of which around 8GB is available for developers - there's little room to store the complicated acceleration structures that make real-time ray tracing possible in the first place. BVHs can take up a lot of area in memory, which the Series S doesn't have room to spare in a lot of cases. RT can be delivered effectively on the console, but clearly a lot of work is required to make it happen."
The analysis concludes that in most cases, opting to drop any sort of Series S RT mode in favour of a performance option is often the best way to go. If ray tracing is important to you, Xbox Series X is obviously the current-gen Xbox console to save up for.
"And the games that do use RT are often best enjoyed without it. The 30fps vs 60fps split for RT and fully rasterised modes is very typical on the console and given the choice, it's rare that I'd choose an RT-based quality mode over a 60fps performance alternative [...] it's often a better choice to enjoy lower input lag and more fluid animation over an implementation of ray tracing that usually doesn't bring a transformative improvement to the presentation."
However, we'd argue that it's actually incredible that the Xbox Series S can do any sort of ray tracing at all, isn't it? Off the back of the base Xbox One last generation, it's very impressive that Microsoft managed to create a $300 / £250 console that can render one of PC gaming's most high-end features.