I said in my review of the Xbox One X that, while the system is a beast, the upgrade from the Xbox One to the Xbox One X isn’t yet the revelation that previous generations have been. Even when looking at boosted games side by side, it isn’t always easy to tell the difference between the two. The developer might not know how best to take advantage of the hardware, or maybe the game in question just isn’t the best way to show it off. Microsoft wants to make sure we have something to show off the new system’s visuals regardless of our game collection and TV setup, and has released a demo called “Insects” to do just that.
Originally built for developers and meant to showcase how the system handles different resolutions and system-specific improvements, Microsoft has now released the demo to the public as a free download on Xbox One X.
The demo itself is simple – just some insects popping around through grass and flowers. With the controller, though, you can toggle 4K resolution, HDR lighting, and spatial audio on and off. If you have the right setup, you can also toggle spatial audio. Even on a 1080p display, the demo will bring something to the table, showing off the benefits of supersampling – a technique that runs the game at a higher resolution and then shows the more detailed image at a lower resolution, giving a more impressive image without additional textures and effects.
There’s also as sub-menu that lets you toggle things like HDR split-screen, so that you can really see what HDR does. It’s an exciting technology for televisions, but it can be hard to describe exactly what the difference is in the moment.
While you’re probably not on an HDR monitor and these images have been downgraded to SDR color, they still do a pretty good job of showing off what the difference is. In the first two images, the difference between the texture resolutions is plainly obvious. The next two images highlight specific parts of the image enhanced by HDR and Wide Color Gamut tech, while the last image shows off HDR and non-HDR side-by-side. It’s simulated in this case, and the difference actually on the screen is even bigger.
With how dark and gritty and monochromatic some games can be, this is a simple way to show off the system’s strengths in one place. It’s just a few gigs, and it’s well worth the download if you have an Xbox One X.