There are three generations of Xbox games in the wild, and many loyal fans have amassed a sizeable collection of Xbox titles ranging from the original Xbox to the Xbox One. With all three generations being backward compatible with the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S it’s understandable that there are many questions surrounding the Xbox Series X|S backward compatibility and how it will function especially since it killed further backward compatibility for the Xbox One. Microsoft gave some more details on how the Xbox Series X|S will enhance backward compatibility in the next-gen console, coming November 10th.
Taking an apparent swipe at Sony, the Xbox will run all backward compatible games natively, unlike the PlayStation 5 which is said to be running emulator software for backward compatibility. By running natively, this means these games will utilize the full power of the CPU, GPU, and SSD without the use of a “Boost Mode” or dowclocking, like the PlayStation 5. With the use of the internal NVME storage device as well as the max potential of the hardware, backward compatible games will benefit from higher and more steady framerates and push their max resolutions, in some cases, to 1440p or 4K. Additionally, some older titles, like Fallout 4, will take advantage of system performance and double the framerate. Framerate doubling will happen on games dependent on how their initial physics and animations engines were developed.
Both the Xbox Series X and the Xbox Series S will employ a feature called Auto HDR (high dynamic range) which “allows a game to render a much larger range of brightness values and colors” and “gives an extra sense of richness and depth to the image.” This feature will be hardware-based and not take away from the system performance leaving all the power to running the game. This feature will work across all backward compatible Xbox games, even those that were developed before HDR was a thing. In short, old SDR (standard definition range) titles will benefit from Auto HDR, even Xbox 360 games.
For older Xbox and Xbox 360 titles, Microsoft has curated a list of titles that have been enhanced using the Heutchy method which allows games that were originally rendered for 360p and 720p to be played at Xbox Series S levels (1440p) and at Xbox Series X (4K) levels. Both the Xbox Series X and the Xbox Series S will also enable 16x anisotropic filtering to further improve the image quality of these backward compatible games.
Playing backward compatible games on the Xbox Series X|S will be just as easy as on the Xbox One. All your games from your digital library will be ready for download once you log into your Xbox Series X|S. Those of you with physical discs for the Xbox, Xbox 360 or the Xbox One will want to purchase an Xbox Series X as you will need to insert the disc and install the game like you normally would on previous consoles. Since the Xbox Series S does not have a disc drive, you would need to repurchase any games that you physically own.
Lastly, if you are an Xbox 360 owner and still gaming on that machine, you will be pleased to find that Microsoft will be enabling free cloud saves for all of your save data, regardless of your Xbox Live subscription, to ease the transition to the newer systems. Previously, only Xbox Live Gold members could take advantage of cloud saves.