Dolby has announced that the upcoming Xbox Series S and Series X will be the first consoles with Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision HDR gaming support. Dolby Atmos 3D surround sound will be enabled at launch, while Dolby Vision HDR gaming is set to arrive in 2021.
With Dolby Vision, the company is promising 40 times brighter highlights, 10 times deeper black levels and up to 12-bits of color depth. That will vary widely depending on your TV or monitor, however, as most displays only support 10-bits of color depth and few come even close to Dolby Vision’s maximum brightness levels.
Dolby Atmos is more of a known quantity and is already available in some games. It could improve your gaming in theory, as it places each sound in three-dimensional space “so you can pinpoint its location in the game,” Dolby said.
Introducing the next level of gaming.— Dolby (@Dolby) September 10, 2020
The Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S are the first consoles ever with gaming in Dolby Vision® (coming soon) and Dolby Atmos® (available at launch).
@Xbox, welcome to gaming in Dolby. https://t.co/5lkpVT8ntb
While current Xbox One models support Dolby Atmos/Vision already, that only works with Netflix and other streaming media, not games. With the Xbox Series X and S, however, both Dolby Vision and Atmos will work with streaming media and supported games.
The Xbox One X technically supported Dolby Vision for gaming, but the feature never got out of Microsoft’s Insider testing phase. You can currently play several games on PC using Dolby Vision HDR like Battlefield 1, but there has never been full console support until now.
Dolby Vision generally offers a better HDR experience than regular HDR10, as it uses “dynamic metadata" that's encoded into scenes ahead of time. That lets creators make the most of the extra brightness and color accuracy that HDR offers over regular SDR. The disadvantage of Dolby Vision is that creators and hardware manufacturers have to pay a license fee.
Sony has yet to announce any PlayStation 5 gaming support for either Dolby Atmos or Dolby Vision. In any case, since Dolby Vision has only ever appeared in testing and a few PC games, it’s not at all clear how much it will improve the gaming experience. In theory, however, it should offer more benefits than 4K by making games significantly brighter and more colorful.