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Overwatch on Xbox One X: does its dynamic 4K scaler hold up?

The Xbox One X upgrades keep on coming, with Blizzard’s Overwatch the latest title to receive 4K support. We went into this one with a certain sense of tredipation: after all, Overwatch’s PlayStation 4 Pro support ended up delivering only 4K HUDs overlaid on a regular 1080p presentation. It was a big disappointment at the time, and while users did get improved texture filtering over the base PS4 version along with other minor tweaks, there was the sense that Pro was capable of delivering much, much more.

The good news is that Blizzard has delivered with its Xbox One X work. The patch itself is only a 650MB download, so don’t expect a sweeping upgrade in the core artwork to support the 4K standard. What you get in asset quality is already equivalent to the PC’s top texture setting, which was already in place on the base PS4 and Xbox One releases. But crucially, what the developer has delivered is a clear and obvious upgrade in resolution, worthy of your ultra HD display.

A dynamic scaler is in play on Xbox One X, and owing to the highly variable nature of the gameplay itself, the range of pixel counts covered is significant. Based on a sample of over 30 still shots derived from a wide cross-section of gameplay, the upper bounds of the scaler are indeed a full 4K. In the opening lobby area, for example, the character selection screen or less demanding spots on each map render at the maximum 3840×2160.

However, the moments of peak action with all heroes on-screen likely won’t hit that top value and the lowest figure recorded in our samples is 2112×2160 – based on a hectic street fight on the Numbani map. This reveals how the scaler works; the vertical resolution of 2160 pixels stays locked in place no matter what happens on-screen. That 2112×2160 lower bounds of our sample range accounts for 55 per cent of a full 4K. The still represents a huge jump over the dynamic 1080p on a standard Xbox One, and X hardware gives us the sharpest looking take on Overwatch on console.