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God I Hope My Xbox Series S Can Run GTA 6

Grand Theft Auto 6 looks gorgeous. Unless its debut trailer this week was faked, it might end up being one of the best-looking games of this console generation when it comes out in 2025. By that time, my Xbox Series S will be five years old. I shudder to think of that sleek little white box trying to play Rockstar Games’ latest open-world blockbuster.

The Best Reveals From The Game Awards 2023

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We still don’t know how big GTA 6 will be, or all of the new features it will include over its 2013 predecessor. But based on the first trailer at least, it looks detailed, dazzling, and very dense. Unless Rockstar is pulling a massive bait-and-switch, I assume the packed beaches and bustling neighborhood traffic reflects its ambitions for the finished game, potentially a new benchmark for the open-world genre it’s pioneered since the PS2 days. I’m almost as excited for the eventual Digital Foundry analysis as I am for the game itself.

The studio also confirmed that GTA 6 will come to PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series S/X (and not PC) at launch. I was slightly surprised to see Rockstar commit to the less powerful Xbox with the game still nearly two years away. While no Xbox game has yet come to the Series X without also being on Series S, as Microsoft currently demands, the gap between the two machines is growing and we’ve already begun to see fissures in the joint console requirement.

Baldur’s Gate 3 is the most obvious example, a sprawling RPG delayed on Xbox because Larian Studios was having trouble getting the local co-op feature to work on the Series S. Microsoft eventually relented and let Larian drop local co-op on the weaker console, and now the GOTY contender is slated to arrive on Xbox before the end of 2023.

That comes after a year of vague complaints about the Series S’ broader capabilities, with one developer blaming it for why Gotham Knights arrived on consoles without a performance mode. Those problems appear to be more acute for games that double as visual showcases, like Alan Wake 2. That game had a 60fps mode on both PS5 and Xbox Series X, but not Series S.

Read More: Everything We Know About Grand Theft Auto 6

Missing features are one thing, but the bigger concern over the long haul is whether performance for some games will noticeably become worse on Series S to the degree that it becomes a meaningfully subpar experience. The new Forza Motorsport handles great on the cheaper console, but looks noticeably worse. As we’ve gotten further into this console generation, other games have had more jarring drop-offs in quality.

Lords of the Fallen and Warhammer 40K: Darktide both had noticable performance dips on Series S. Whether those things can be fixed with further optimizaton, I’m skeptical a game that’s supposed to be an industry standard-bearer and is still years away won’t have similar issues. Maybe GTA 6 on Series S will be completely fine, or maybe it will have more than a little in common with Cyberpunk 2077's last-gen versions which, while mostly playable, looked almost like a different game.

“Series S, the CPU is pretty much the same as on Series X,” Remedy Entertainment communications director Thoma Puh told IGN a couple of months ago. “But the GPU is an issue. It really is. And then, having less memory is a pretty big problem. And we often get, ‘okay, you make PC games, surely you know how to scale.’ Well, memory is not a problem on PC. It really isn’t. And that’s one of the struggles when you talk about resolution and framerate. It’s just not enough to drop the resolution heavily. That’s what we’re doing on the S and we’re really, really working hard to make sure the visual quality still holds up.”

Remedy managed to find the right compromises for Alan Wake 2. While the performance and visuals are rougher, it mostly holds together and offers a great-looking experience for a budget console you can currently buy for just $250. Hopefully, Rockstar managers to do the same. I don’t need to see gators eating babies in 4K but it would suck to lose the larger visual splendor of the upcoming sequel’s Vice City romance. I want 100 NPCs to be reflecting the 96-degree sun in a shimmery sea-foam film of HD sweat. You can do that Series S, right? Right?


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