What does Xbox One X Enhanced mean? 4K, HDR and other features explained

Still not sure about what an Xbox One X Enhanced game is, or what difference it makes? Let us explain. Just in case you're not sure, the Xbox One X is basically just an Xbox, but one that can run games in 4K. 

However, there's more to it than that with variable resolutions, lots of different possible features and a range with which games are improved to earn the official "Xbox One X Enhanced" logo on the box. So far that includes things like Assassin's Creed Origins, a really buffed up Gears of War 4, Forza Motorsport 7 and loads more.

Many of our questions were answered in an official Microsoft video by Xbox marketing manager Albert Penello. In other words, it's his whole job to make the latest Xbox sound as excellently magnificent as possible. That isn't to say he's being in any way dishonest or disingenuous, just that he really wants to sell you an Xbox One X and he's also quite good at it.

What does Xbox One X Enhanced mean?

"Xbox One X Enhanced is really a way to inform customers that a developer has done work that allows them to take advantage of all the performance and all of the horsepower of the Xbox One X," Penello explains. "It's just a simple way that customers can understand this game is doing something special on the Xbox One X." 

What does a game have to do to be called Xbox One X Enhanced?

"One of the things that we wanted to do was make sure that we were building the best platforms for developers so that the best versions of games are on Xbox," Penello says. "And really the game developer is the best person to decide how to use all that power. So different games are gonna take advantage of the [Xbox One X] performance in different ways.

"For instance, Rise of the Tomb Raider is doing several different modes. They're going to have an enriched mode, with more advanced textures and more lush environments. They also have a 4K native mode. If you look at Gears of War, they're going to be upgrading their game using the 4K assets from the PC and they're gonna be in native 4K. You can look at a game like Forza 7 which is really pushing the envelope of technology with native 4K, 60 frames per second, and high-resolution textures. So games are gonna go different things, but all of them fall under the banner of Xbox One X Enhanced."

How do 4K and HDR fit in with Xbox One X Enhanced?

"The first thing people should understand is that not all Xbox One X Enhanced games are going to be 4K and HDR. Xbox One X Enhanced is about the support for the console. 4K and HDR are features that the games support. But we know that, with the power of Xbox One X, a lot of people are gonna be looking for 4K games, and looking for HDR to really show off these amazing new screens. And so we've put those up front on the box and in our [sorting methods] so people will be able to find out what features the games support." 

What current Xbox One games will be Xbox One X enhanced?

"We've announced so far that over 100 games are going to be enhanced for Xbox One X. And many of those are games that are already in our users' libraries today. When they upgrade to an Xbox One X, games that they already own will be updated with these new features for free. So many people already own a library of Xbox One X games before they've even purchased the console."

You can check our list of every Xbox One X Enhanced game for specific details on which games will benefit from the new system.

How can you tell a game is Xbox One X Enhanced?

Red boxes added for emphasis.

Red boxes added for emphasis.

"We're going to be updating our packaging with new logos that communicate Xbox One X Enhanced, 4K, and HDR. So in the store you'll see it on the box. If you go to our digital store you'll be able to sort by those same filters, so I can sort by Xbox One X Enhanced, 4K, or HDR. And also in my games and apps, which is really kind of cool, if you have an Xbox One X there'll be a new filter for Xbox One X Enhanced titles. Those will show all the games that have been upgraded. And if you have an Xbox One S, you can also filter by Xbox One X Enhanced [as of an update scheduled for this fall], so you can see games that you already own today, that if you ever decide to upgrade, will be available right away." 

What good is Xbox One X if you don't have a 4K display?

"One of the features that we have on the Xbox One X is called supersampling, and it scales down all of the 4K data and image quality to a 1080p screen. So 1080p users will still get the benefit of the advanced textures, the faster framerates, the higher quality imagery, even if they're not displaying it in native 4K. So a 1080p supersample image is a huge improvement over a native 1080p image.

"On top of that, there's other features that we have in the box that make games better. We have a 50 percent faster hard drive to make loading times faster. For older games that aren't Xbox One X Enhanced, they'll see improvements and better texture quality, or better resolutions and frame rates, depending on how the game was built. So even if you haven't upgraded to a 4K TV, there's still a bunch of reasons to get an Xbox One X, and it's still gonna be the best place to play the best versions of the games."

That's a lot of info to take in all at once. Read up on our Xbox One X info page to help cement it all in place, or if you're ready to push the button, see where you can pre-order an Xbox One X right now.

Connor Sheridan

I got a BA in journalism from Central Michigan University - though the best education I received there was from CM Life, its student-run newspaper. Long before that, I started pursuing my degree in video games by bugging my older brother to let me play Zelda on the Super Nintendo. I've previously been a news intern for GameSpot, a news writer for CVG, and now I'm a staff writer here at GamesRadar.