Did Gears 5 have better physics, ai, world simulations, more npc's and biggers multplayer maps with a higher player count on pc and X1X? There are some exceptions like Shadow of Mordor, BF3 and Forza Horizon 2, but it's pretty rare to see a cross gen game that has core features missing from the pc version. MAybe they are doing that with MS's exclusives and Halo Infinite will look like a half ass version on X1. But it's far more likely that the core game will be identical on X1 and Series X but upscaled to 4k and a higher fps.
It will still look great obviously, and I'm sure it will be a good game. However if you look at something like GTA6 that will likely skip current gen. I'm pretty damn sure it will not be just a 4k/60 fps version of GTA5. It will be a dramatic leap over GTA5 in terms of map size, physics, world simulations etc. and it will probably have drops below 30fps and run at 1440 or 1080p on next gen consoles.
And yes, cross gen games do tend to be pretty much the same across gens in the first couple of years. That's why the 1st party exclusives are important, as they're usually the only games that showcase what these consoles can do early on.
I don't know if it's far more likely. You're mixing your argument with multi-platform games instead of focusing on actual cross-gen titles. Cross-gen titles have become more prevalent as production budgets have gone up. They weren't anywhere near as common 2 generations ago as they were this last generation. And as we've seen this trend grow, in a general sense we've seen more and more cross-gen games make cut-backs on older generation platforms. Be it large features (Shadow of Mordor), modes (Call of Duty), or straight up different engines (many sports titles). If we take a look at MS's past efforts on their published titles that are cross-gen, we have only 2 examples to work from; Forza Horizon 2 and Rise of the Tomb Raider.
In both cases, a separate studio has handled the port and in both cases the game targeted the newer console. In both cases they did an amazing job of taking advantage of the new hardware as both Forza Horizon 2 and Rise of the Tomb Raider were considered technical showcases for the X1 platform in their year of release. And in both cases they made the right cutbacks for the games to run on the older generation, and that includes making cutbacks to the actual vehicle simulation, world geometry, race events, and dynamic environments in Forza Horizon 2's case.
But don't just take my word for it, DF did analysis of both and make no mention of the newer platform being held back. So as far as MS goes as a publisher for cross-gen titles, they've set a precedent that they do a good job of making sure each platform gets the respect it deserves and the capabilities of them are utilized well. If we want to look back at historical data to make a future prediction, we should factor in more granular things like specific publishers.
As far as the CPU goes, there's actually a fair amount of savings you can do from one CPU to the next. The obvious one is framerate (say XSX is 60 and X1/X is 30), but beyond that the CPU organizes a lot of stuff between various system components including the GPU, memory, and storage. If everything is slower, then the game on that platform is going to use lower quality assets in general. That lowers the CPU requirement in so many ways. You're loading in lower quality assets, and a fewer number of them into memory. For example, think of individual grass sprites for example; Infinite might load in 16 unique sprites where X1/X loads in 4 and they're repeated more often. So even if a specific technique is largely hinging on the performance of the GPU or storage, you can find savings on the CPU based on the technique being used. Another example, if the GPU is doing less (i.e. less particle effects, dealing with less or lower quality shadows, lower quality textures need to be loaded from storage), the CPU has to do less work to prep the GPU to do what it has to do. None of these things is a huge saving on its own but they add up for the CPU coordinating all of them. Further, you can alter the game logic refresh of various elements of the game simulation for other savings. You have enemies out in the distance who aren't attacking you? Cut their logic refresh to 15 fps on X1. That way you can keep a higher quality of logic but just not apply it to all enemies.
I think the only reasonable thing for anyone to do on either side of this debate is to wait and see what MS and 343 show off regarding this going forward. They've given us very little information thus far about Infinite so this conversation will just go in circles as no one will convince anyone else of anything and we're all just bunkered in our own pre-conceived notions. I have my doubts about Infinite as well, as someone who considered Halo as my favourite franchise of anything for nearly a decade and has absolutely hated the majority of 343's decisions with the franchise. But I'm going to let them provide me with info before I make a stance about Infinite and their handling of this cross-gen situation. I personally would've liked the clean break to leave no doubt. But even as it is, if you look at how MS has handled cross-gen specifically (yes, specifically. There's a lot of other stuff that can be pulled into this conversation - that I myself have knocked them for - to try to taint what they've done in this specific regard but it's unrelated) then I'd say things aren't as dire as many are painting them to be and we just have to wait and see before we cheer them on or crucify them.
Totally agree with this. Like I said, if MS is making their exclusives for Series X first and outsource the X1 version, that'll miss out on core features, I would have no problem with that. MS has done that in the past so it's not completely impossible.
The only thing that's worrying for me is their change in strategy and making it a point to have all their exclusives run on a ton of different devices for the first couple of years. It probably took a lot of work to make 2 different versions of Horizon 2, running on completely different tech. But are they really going to make 4 different versions of their exclusives for Series X, Lockhart, X1, X1X? To me it sounds more likely that it will be 1 game and that it will scale up and down their family of devices, like we're seeing on pc. But here's the thing. We are now at the end of this console cycle and I can't name a single AAA game that is really a dramatically different game on pc, where we have core features missing on the ps4/Xone versions.
There were some exceptions, but generally speaking there wasn't a huge leap between the 360/Xone versions of cross-gen titles in the first couple of years. Instead, they looked like HD remasters while the exclusives did kinda stand out. Also, keep in mind that a ton of Xone cross-gen games still ran at 720p/30fps so I'm not expecting native 4k/60fps to be the standard at all next gen.
Call of Duty Ghosts 360 vs Xone
NFS Rivals 360 vs Xone
Blackflag 360 vs Xone