New features include Auto HDR, DirectStorage, and Xbox Cloud Gaming built in.
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There are a lot of changes coming with Windows 11 when it launches later this year. Some of those changes focus on the gaming side of things and Microsoft is all too eager to tell us about them.

First up, Microsoft will be including Auto HDR with Windows 11. If you have an Xbox Series X|S, you may already be well acquainted with Auto HDR and the impact it can have on games. Auto HDR in Windows 11 will automatically add High Dynamic Range enhancements to games built on DirectX 11 or higher that previously had no HDR implementation included. This seemingly requires no update nor input from the games' developers.

Auto HDR has been in testing for a while now through Windows 10 Insider builds. Though Microsoft's wording seems a little vague, I do believe that Auto HDR will be made available for both Windows 10 and Windows 11.

Next, Microsoft is adding in support for DirectStorage to Windows 11. In the most basic of terms, DirectStorage will speed up game loads by a fair bit. These faster loads are just one benefit. Other benefits include longer draw distances, more texture variety, and next to no pop-in. DirectStorage will allow games to load assets directly to your GPU without the need to bog down the CPU.

There are some requirements for this though. For instance, you will need at least a 1TB NVMe drive in your PC. Microsoft stopped just shy of saying whether or not NVMe devices running on PCI 3.0 will work or if you'll need newer, and far more expensive, PCI 4.0 devices. You will also need a GPU that is compatible with DirectX 12 Ultimate. This means anything lower than an Nvidia RTX 2000/3000 series or AMD RDNA 2-based card will not be supported. With this GPU shortage continuing on, this will be the biggest hurdle for most people right now.

Unlike Auto HDR, Microsoft has explicitly said that DirectStorage is exclusive to Windows 11.

Finally, Microsoft is including the Xbox app natively within Windows 11 now. Microsoft says that this will make it easier to access Game Pass, but I would assume that anybody with Xbox Game Pass for PC or Game Pass Ultimate already had the Xbox app downloaded in Windows 10 anyway.

The real boon coming to the Xbox app in Windows 11 (and presumably also on Windows 10), will be the fact that Microsoft is adding cloud gaming support directly into the app itself. This will allow Game Pass Ultimate subscribers to not only play PC games natively on their system but also allow them to stream Xbox exclusive Game Pass titles to their PC without any added hassle. That's actually pretty cool.