Starfield could indeed be a highly-optimized game on Xbox platforms, including Xbox Series X/S consoles and Windows PCs.
According to Xbox gaming CEO Phil Spencer, the Xbox Advanced Technology Group (ATG) joined up early in Starfield's development to help Bethesda optimize the new space RPG for Xbox platforms. This could point to much better in-game performance than Redfall, which launched at 30FPS, and the ATG could have been instrumental in helping Starfield's new next-gen Creation Engine 2 tap into the power of the Xbox Series X's higher-end GPU hardware.
In a recent interview with Kinda Funny Games, Spencer talked about how internal resources like Xbox ATG can affect development and the overall performance of launched products. Spencer indicates that it's better for developers to utilize these resources as early as possible to maximize in-game optimization benefits, and in the case of Redfall, Arkane had already been in mid-production when Microsoft had closed the ZeniMax merger.
"Thinking about our internal processes of dev assistance, even some of our internal ATG resources, which is the Advanced Technology Group, and how those work with our internal teams. I think we can do a better job with our internal teams.
"We did a better job with Starfield--again, nobody should believe it until they're playing the game--but that game was earlier on in production and it was easier for us to swarm a bunch of people to go and help with some of the technology on our platform and to ensure we're going to ship a quality experience."
So why is this significant? Xbox ATG helped create some of the most groundbreaking technologies that developers can use to push their games to new heights on Xbox platforms.
As per Digital Foundry, the Xbox Advanced Technology Group is responsible for Xbox's robust dynamic resolution scaling--a bit of tech wizardry that allows game developers to sacrifice resolution instead of frame rates. Since the new Xbox consoles also use APUs that share both a GPU and CPU, there age-old battle between frame rates and resolution continues, and dynamic resolution scaling is often employed to maintain specific performance targets. The Xbox Series X/S take this concept a bit farther with Variable Rate Shading (VRS) integration via DirectX 12.
Microsoft's DevBlog from 2020 explains:
"VRS allows developers to selectively reduce the shading rate in areas of the frame where it won't affect visual quality, letting them gain extra performance in their games. This is really exciting because extra perf means increased framerates and lower-spec'd hardware being able to run better games than ever before."
This technique works wonders in games like Gears 5, which uses Tier 2 VRS in tandem with Dynamic Resolution Scaling to maintain 60FPS with HDR on Xbox Series X with Ultra PC preset textures.
The Coalition also worked with the Xbox ATG to create their stunning Unreal Engine 5 cinematic test demo.
It'll be interesting to see how Xbox ATG helped push Starfield on the Series X, especially within the new parameters of Bethesda's upgraded Creation Engine 2.
The Xbox CEO goes on to say that Microsoft will deliver a clear answer on whether or not Starfield runs at 30FPS and 60FPS on Xbox Series X consoles during the Starfield Direct showcase planned for June 11.