It's hard to keep up at times with everything Xbox is up to. This week they have released an update for the Xbox PC App that allows Insiders (I'll show you how later) to test out the cloud games running on those custom blades. Not only that, Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice is the first game running on the custom blades that show off their power with Ray Tracing implemented.
Inside the Xbox App for Insiders
As you see above on the left image Insiders now have a Cloud Gaming tab to select on the home page of the app. Open that up and you'll be presented with the above image on the right which shows you all the available cloud games. The Jump Back In and Most Popular sections are still there just as they are on the other Xbox app versions and the browser.
After signing up to the Insider program and being instantly presented with the cloud option in the app I got really excited. Couldn't wait to jump in as the initial reports were glowing.
However, I was left racking my brains when none of the games would launch. Anticipation was slowly diminishing with each restart and check, nope, no joy. Turns out auto-updates from the Microsoft Store don't auto-update as expected so after 50+ updates were carried out I was back in business. (I know app updates are obvious at first but I was extremely tired from long shifts, don't judge.)
I'm finally loading into a game now, Forza Horizon 4. Loads in really quickly, around 1 minute and I'm in the game. No performance or graphics settings on this one but as a keen racing game fan I know when I'm getting a smooth stream and this is running brilliant at a solid 60 FPS. Straight away I can feel that the latency has drastically improved from my experience with the browser.
I finally switched off at 3 AM this morning to get some rest so I think that tells you all you need to know about the performance but I'll expand slightly for a better overall review.
The 6 hours straight play last night into the early hours of this morning were fantastic. The stream consistency was brilliant. I did get around 20 seconds worth of stutters about 2 hours in but in the grand scheme of things I'll let that slide. I was easily able to carry out some nice drifts, stunts and close manoeuvres throughout my session without any problems.
Graphically, there can be improvements made for sure. At times the visuals would turn ever so slightly blurry although driving around at 120+ mph it probably should look blurry. For the most part, the 1080p stream was on point with good details.
Always good to remember the cloud gaming side of Xbox is still in beta and there is potential for improvements before a full release and we are consistently seeing improvements being made.
Xbox Insider - How to get Inside
If you want to test out the cloud gaming beta via the Xbox PC app follow these easy instructions;
Go to the Microsoft Store on Your PC
Search for "Xbox Insider Hub"
Download, install & launch
Head to the "Previews" tab
Join the "Windows Gaming" preview
Make sure the Xbox App is updated and launch
Hellblade First to Implement Ray Tracing in the Cloud
Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice was just optimized for Series X/S consoles and it seems the game has been updated for the cloud as well. Myself and others have been testing this out and the Enriched Visuals mode that is available on the cloud version is looking beautiful.
The Enriched Visuals mode offers increased visual richness such as additional fog, foliage density, shadow quality and higher resolution textures. The downside of this however is that the framerate is locked at 30 FPS. The stream is sent to us in 60 FPS but we only experience 30 with the additions mentioned above. Looks fantastic but if you are used to playing games at 60 FPS it is really difficult during combat to adjust, not to mention the motion sickness and sore heads this can cause players.
We do have another 2 graphic modes in the cloud. Performance mode is a solid 60 FPS whereas High Resolution mode is basically the same as Enriched Visual mode without the raytracing and so means is still locked at 30 FPS.
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