Amidst all the excitement of Intel’s 12th Gen Alder Lake CPUs, let’s not forget that the first Intel dedicated graphics cards are on their way. Codenamed Arc Alchemist, these GPUs will launch alongside XeSS (Xe Super Sampling), an Nvidia DLSS-style upscaling/anti-aliasing piece of tech that promises to boost performance while sharpening up those jagged edges. And we now know the first two games that will support XeSS: Hitman 3 and The Riftbreaker.
Both game reveals were slipped in as part of this week’s Intel Innovation event, which primarily catered to developers but gave some brief glimpses of XeSS in action. Well, sort of. Both Hitman 3 and The Riftbreaker were indeed shown running at 4K with XeSS enabled, and apparently on Arc Alchemist graphics hardware to boot, but in both cases were compared to…how they look at 1080p? I guess it might make sense to demonstrate that 4K with XeSS runs comparably well to 1080p with conventional AA, but there's no frame rate info to compare. And, in terms of showing the effectiveness of XeSS’s upscaling in terms of pure aesthetics, obviously 4K is going to look better regardless.
Also, the videos from the event (like the one above – skip to 6:35 for Hitman 3 – or this one, which shows The Riftbreaker at 43:17) are only in 1080p themselves! So you can only really see the difference when the editors have zoomed in the footage. It’s good that big games are getting on board with XeSS, especially since Hitman 3 is yet to support either DLSS or AMD’s kinda-similar FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR), but yeah, this isn’t the best technical showcase for it.
Nonetheless, there are reasons to be optimistic about XeSS. It sounds a lot closer to the current gold standard of DLSS than the much more basic FSR, as instead of using simple spatial upscaling (that carries over traditional AA techniques like TAA), XeSS uses AI, previous frame data and its own AA algorithms to piece the final image together. With DLSS, this approach very often results in great-looking games that run faster at no real cost, so XeSS stands to be a fine addition to the PC gaming toolkit if it works even roughly as well.
The best part is that you won’t even need an Arc GPU to use XeSS, as Intel have repeatedly confirmed its compatibility with graphic cards from “other manufacturers” as well. There’s a good chance, then, that you’ll be able to use XeSS on your current Nvidia or AMD GPU.
Arc Alchemist remains on track to launch early next year, so expect XeSS to become available around the same time. It still has a long way to go before enjoying the level of support that DLSS has, but Hitman 3 is no small timer, and Sin very much enjoyed The Riftbreaker and its genre-soup action-building.