Increased resolutions, anisotropic filtering and doubled frame rates for older games are also possible.
Microsoft has said quite a bit about backwards compatibility for previous generations, even with the Xbox Series X around the corner. It’s even showcased how it can quickly add ray-tracing and convert games like Gears 5 to the console. That being said, you can expect “thousands of games” – ranging from the original Xbox to the Xbox 360 and Xbox One – to be compatible with the Xbox Series X at launch.
As per director of program management Jason Ronald, backwards compatible titles will ” run natively on the Xbox Series X hardware,” with “the full power of the CPU, GPU, and the SSD. No boost mode, no downclocking, the full power of the Xbox Series X for each and every backward compatible game.
“This means that all titles run at the peak performance that they were originally designed for, many times even higher performance than the games saw on their original launch platform, resulting in higher and more steady frame rates and rendering at their maximum resolution and visual quality. Backwards compatible titles also see significant reductions in in-game load times from the massive leap in performance from our custom NVME SSD which powers the Xbox Velocity Architecture.”
That’s not all though. Utilizing techniques like the Heutchy method, we’ll be able to see “increased resolutions up to 4K, or applying anisotropic filtering to improve the final image quality bring these classic games up to modern standards, better than ever before.” HDR support can also be automatically added to titles with “zero impact to performance”.
“In partnership with the Xbox Advanced Technology Group, Xbox Series X delivers a new, innovative HDR reconstruction technique which enables the platform to automatically add HDR support to games. As this technique is handled by the platform itself, it allows us to enable HDR with zero impact to the game’s performance and we can also apply it to Xbox 360 and original Xbox titles developed almost 20 years ago, well before the existence of HDR.” Some games that have been proven to benefit from this include Halo 5: Guardians and Fusion Frenzy, neither which shipped with HDR support at launch.
Finally, Ronald noted that, “We are also creating whole new classes of innovations including the ability to double the frame rate of a select set of titles from 30 fps to 60 fps or 60 fps to 120 fps.”
Even if one expects to hear more Xbox Series X exclusives en route to launch, this is still an enticing proposition. When combined with Xbox Game Pass, Microsoft’s subscription service that provides access to over 100 games on console, first-time consumers are ensured of an extensive library with the Xbox Series X. It will be interesting to see what’s not backwards compatible in the coming months.
The Xbox Series X will be available this holiday season. A showcase for first-party titles is currently scheduled for July.