Samsung already makes some of the best TVs for gaming, thanks to their built-in Game Hub software that connects with just about every game streaming service under the sun. This year, they’re set to be even better for gaming now that Samsung has ported some features, like virtual aim point and a minimap zoom, from its gaming monitors to its television.
Earlier this month we got an extended look at Samsung’s three flagship TVs, including its top Neo QLED 4K and 8K offerings and the newest QD OLED TV, to put the company’s gaming features to the test.
First up, as soon as you start playing a game, Samsung’s top TVs will automatically switch to game mode, to help reduce latency, and present the new GameBar 3.0 interface. This little overlay pops up from the bottom of the screen to give quick access to the game picture mode presets, activating the minimap zoom, virtual aim point, sound output, and generally everything you’d want while gaming.
Game Motion mode is perhaps the most interesting and controversial feature coming to Samsung’s latest TVs. It’s essentially motion smoothing, sometimes referred to as “the soap opera effect” but for games. Basically, with this feature switched on you get an even smoother frame rate while playing games, but it’s completely artificial instead of a higher frame rate directly from a console or gaming PC.
Normally, motion smoothing is considered to be bad and is something you’ll want to turn off while watching regular media, but for games it feels a bit more okay since you want the highest frame rate. Similar to motion smoothing for movies and shows, Game Motion smooths out animations making them appear more fluid and every frame looks crisp as well. Interestingly, you can also use this Game Motion mode to boost the frame rate of games you play on the Xbox Series X and PS5 in resolution mode. This essentially gives you the best of both worlds with both increased detail and a frame rate that’s higher than 30 fps.
However, the pseudo-high frame rate you get from Game Motion isn’t perfect. While playing Spider-Man: Miles Morales, for example, the Game Motion frame rate would radically increase or decrease. Alternatively, I wouldn’t use Game Motion mode to bump up the frame rate on fighting games. Since Game Motion is artificially smoothing out frames and animation it makes it harder to perfectly time button presses in fighting games – especially ones that require frame-accurate timing for combos like Mortal Kombat 11. Lastly, to even engage Game Motion mode on the PS5, I had to go into the video settings and manually switch off Variable Refresh Rate support.
Another new addition, minimap zoom, is the most unique gaming feature I’ve seen on a television so far. Once activated, it switches the TV into a split-screen mode where the majority of the display still shows the game you’re playing while a portion of the left of the display shows a blown-up version of the minimap.
You can use the remote to adjust which part of the screen is being enlarged on the left by positioning and sizing a yellow box overlay over the minimap in whatever game you’re playing. It’s useful in multiplayer shooters like Battlefield 2042 and Halo Infinite, where sometimes you’re basically monitoring the minimap for enemy locations, but it’s not exactly perfect since the enlarged minimap looks pretty pixelated.
The virtual aim point is a much simpler feature, especially if you’ve ever stuck a light or marked a piece of tap onto the center of your gaming monitor. This feature basically adds a virtual cursor onto the exact center of the display, so you always have an aiming reticle. It’s perfect for shooters and adventure games, and you can switch between multiple colors and styles of reticles.
And of course, there’s also the aforementioned Game Hub menu that gives you easy access to game streaming services directly on the TV. Just pair a Bluetooth controller to the TV and you can stream games on Xbox Cloud Gaming, Nvidia GeForce Now, and Amazon Luna.
Outside of the new gaming features, all of Samsung’s latest TVs are seriously upping picture quality with AI and picture processing. Foremost, there’s a new Auto HDR Remastering feature that uses AI deep learning technology to analyze and apply real-time high dynamic range effects on standard dynamic range (SDR) content. This basically makes any SDR content brighter and livelier, which is perfect for games not mastered in HDR – looking at you Nintendo Switch games.
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Kevin Lee is IGN’s SEO Updates Editor. Follow him on Twitter @baggingspam.