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Winners and Losers: Xbox’s secret weapon just got better, while Returnal’s crashes cause a gaming nightmare

In a rush and need a concise rundown of the two biggest happenings in the world of tech this week? Trusted Reviews’ Winners and Losers has you covered.

Some weeks tend to be dominated by smartphones, others by new TVs, but the last seven days have been about gaming. Between the Lady Dimitrescu stans finally getting their fix with Resident Evil Village, and the 22-year wait for a Pokémon Snap sequel coming to an end – gaming has taken the discourse by storm.

To stay true to this news cycle, this week’s Winners and Losers is a gaming centric affair, highlighting the recent addition of 74 titles to Xbox’s fantastic FPS Boost program, as well as the seemingly boundless outrage caused by Returnal’s non-existent save system.

Xbox_FPS_Boost

With stock scarcity still a problem for Sony and Microsoft, the decision over which console to buy feels more crucial than it has ever been, and exclusive features can go a long way to tipping the scales. To this end, the FPS Boost feature on Xbox Series X/S that provides a massive jump in framerate for specific Xbox One titles is a godsend – and it’s only getting better.

An extra 74 games have received the FPS Boost treatment, with some titles (such as Battlefield V) now playable up to 120fps. Speaking as someone who has a out-of-control backlog of games to tackle, I feel far more inclined to dive into older games knowing they’ve been brought up to speed for newer consoles.

FPS Boost also works as a great way to plug the gap for what is otherwise a light time where Xbox exclusives are concerned. Halo Infinite won’t be out until later in 2021, while Sony has stormed the gates with Returnal, alongside Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart, which debuts next month.

It also speaks to the tremendous job Microsoft has done in emphasising the importance of backwards compatibility for this console generation, with the new Xbox able to handle hundreds of Xbox 360 games, while the notion of dusting off your old PS2 collection to play on your PS5 is sadly still a pipedream.

Returnal

This is a painful one for me. Only last week, I reviewed Returnal and gave the PS5 exclusive a well earned 4.5-stars, noting that while the game is certainly difficult, it never felt unfair and its gameplay loop is incredibly addictive. Unfortunately, the game’s launch has been something of a mess, mainly due to the real-world implications of not having any sort of save system – unless you put your PS5 into ‘Rest Mode’.

The problem here is that if your console decides to install an update while in Rest Mode, then the console quits the game and you’re sent back to the beginning. At the very least, you can adjust the PS5’s settings so that updates aren’t installed in Rest Mode, but the real kicker is when the game crashes.

In my playthrough, I only ever experienced one crash, and luckily it occurred early on during a single run, but it appears that the problem has been more prevalent for some players. In order to combat the issue, developer Housemarque released a patch for the game that somehow only made things worse.

Patch 1.3.3 made Returnal near unplayable, leading Housemarque to pull the patch and instruct players to avoid downloading it at all costs. Luckily, the whole affair seems to have been fixed by a follow-up patch, but it has cemented the desire for some sort of save function in the game, and it’s unlikely that players will be satiated until Housemarque concedes.

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