DF Weekly: Starfield mods unlock frame-rate on Xbox Series S – so how well does it run?

June 24, 2024
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In this week’s DF Direct, I spend a bit of time looking into the Starfield modding scene – more specifically checking out mods that aim to bring a performance mode to the Xbox Series S version of the game. As we’ve already covered, Bethesda did a creditable job in bringing performance options to the Xbox Series X rendition of the game, but the junior Xbox didn’t get the same treatment. We pointed out that this was a shame at the time, and the mods appear to suggest that Series S could have benefited likewise.

Going back to the ‘stock’ game, it’s essentially a match for the Series X version, albeit with very slight cuts to visual features. The big difference comes from the resolution. It runs at a reconstructed 1440p, using 900p as the base internal resolution. Bethesda maintains consistency by running at a capped 30 frames per second, the game rarely dipping beneath. The first mod for Series S I tried simply turns off v-sync, which also removes that frame-rate limit. So in essence, we’re looking at something similar to Series X’s 60fps mode running in the visuals preset (the difference being you’ll need to put up with eye-rending screen-tearing on a non-VRR display).

It’s quite interesting to see that – similar to Series X – this mode sees the game careen between GPU and CPU limits. Dense cityscapes with plenty of NPCs are where the CPU is the limit – and a run around Jemison or especially Akila will see the CPU limit brought to the fore. However, in most of the other game content, it’s the GPU that is the primary factor in limiting performance and here, the limits can change dramatically – anything from the mid 30s to the high 50s in my testing. It may actually go higher than that in some content: if you set the console to 120Hz output, a 60fps cap is no issue – the console will happily move beyond that.

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