After Microsoft finally unveiled the Xbox One X it became apparent that the console was designed from the ground up to appeal to hardcore gamers. It even seems especially geared toward those who may have switched over to the PlayStation 4 as their primary console this generation.
With all the processing power inside the Xbox One X (abbreviated a certain way, that spells XBOX; just sayin’), it’s reasonable to expect that developers would actually be willing to take advantage of the extra juice. You could even anticipate that third-party studios might want to get in on that action.
Take Bungie, for example. The house that built Halo shifted their alignment toward Sony this generation. Their arrangement includes exclusive weapons, equipment, shaders, emblems, and missions; all for choosing to play Destiny on PlayStation.
Still, the franchise has a major following of Xbox owners. Back in March, Bungie confirmed that Destiny 2 would be launching on PC this time around. Then, at E3, we found out that the PC version of the game would support 4K resolutions and that the framerate would be uncapped.
This news was met with praise by players; until they started to wonder about what this meant for the console versions of the game, that is. Specifically, some people were concerned about how Destiny 2 would perform on the newly unveiled Xbox One X.
With such impressive specs (for a console), surely the X would be able to run the game in 4K at 60fps, right? On the face of it, that seems entirely possible. It’s when you start to think about what that would really mean for the health of Destiny 2 that it becomes clear that Bungie’s decision to limit the framerate on consoles is the right one.
Since consoles are now iterative, rather than generational, there is no longer a separation of the player base across devices. Xbox One players will be in the same instances and PVP matches as those who own an Xbox One S or an Xbox One X. Everyone’s in the same ecosystem.
Imagine what it’d be like to be playing Destiny 2 on the Xbox One against someone who owns the X if the framerate was unlocked on that machine. Every time you encountered them in a fight, they’d immediately have a leg up on you. In a game where fractions of a second can make a difference between scoring a kill or being killed, that’s a huge deal.
Admit it; you’d likely lose your mind over that every single time it happened. You’d probably even start blaming every death on a framerate advantage, cursing Bungie all the while. I know that I would, at least. That’s why it’s extremely important that games with online competitive modes be on a level playing field; it’s to ensure every player has a fair shake.
There are all sorts of conspiracies that imply that Bungie is in league with Sony—beyond their exclusivity arrangement, that is. They say that Destiny 2 will somehow be gimped or otherwise held back on the Xbox One X. I suppose it’s probably true that the game won’t run at the highest settings it possibly can, but I don’t believe it has anything to do with some super secret deal to tank Microsoft’s machine.
So, knowing that the Xbox One X is capped at 30fps; does that mean that the game won’t look any better either? Bungie says that they’re focused on all of the launch consoles right now. What they mean by that is that Destiny 2 will technically launch before the Xbox One X does. So, for the time being, their focus is on making sure the game runs as smoothly as it can on everything else.
That said, there’s really no reason that Destiny 2 can’t look a whole lot better on the Xbox One X; even if Bungie says there are currently no enhancements over the other console versions. In fact, locking down the framerate on the X means that even more resources are freed up. That makes it possible to do all sorts of stuff with the visuals (like true 4K, for example) that other machines simply aren’t capable of matching (sorry PS4 Pro owners).
On the flip side, PC players of Destiny 2 will need to co-exist in an environment where every player’s rig is different. Performance varies from PC to PC, and that can lead to some frustrating moments in competitive gameplay. PC gamers have long thrived in those circumstances, however—they’re used to it. Part of the fun of building a gaming PC is maxing out your rig to get a slight advantage over others, and they’re all the happier for it.
It’s simply not the same for console players, though. On consoles, most people just want to pop a game in and enjoy a bespoke experience perfectly tuned to give everyone the same chance at having a good time. And they’re all the happier for it too.
At the end of the day, it seems smart to me to do what’s best for each ecosystem, and in the case of the Xbox One, S, and X, that means a capped framerate. Conspiracies of shady backroom dealings aside, it’s just plain logical to aim for gameplay parity on consoles. If you’re persuaded by my rationale, or you simply don’t care and are going to pick up the game regardless, it’s available to pre-order right now.