Xbox Series X Looking Back to Go Forward
In a new press release on their news wire, Xbox have today shared some more details on their plans for the backwards compatibility of the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S. They’ve included a whole heap of technical details around how they’re going to make their catalogue available in a form that’s better than you’ve ever seen it, but the takeaway message seems to be this – if you want to play a game from a past generation of Xbox console, you can probably do it, and it will probably look better and brighter than before. Some games will look better than others, but this is overall great news for Xbox gamers.
The new consoles, thanks to their custom designed processors, will use their power to amp up the quality of existing games on the fly. By automatically implementing high dynamic range (HDR) technology, games will be able to render a much larger range of brightness and colours, making environments richer and (as the name suggests) more dynamic. Auto HDR, offered by the new consoles, will mean that even games that were released using standard dynamic range (SDR) technology (including older games released before the technology was even available) will automatically be scaled up. This is along with increases in rendering speeds, thanks to a magical thing called the Heutchy method (which, as I understand it, basically forces games to process assets based on the current console’s capability, rather than the console it was initially designed for) which will mean that games will render at up to 4k resolution, even those that were initially only rendered at 720p or even 360p, like original Xbox games.
All games will receive some increase in power and quality, though some will get more of a facelift than others. A “hand curated list of titles” will even have their framerate effectively doubled – though we don’t know which titles the list will include, beyond Fallout 4 which was given as an example in the announcement. Though it seems that particular list won’t be long, other improvements will apply to “nearly all backward compatible titles”, including 16x anisotropic filtering, which reduces blur in objects at oblique angles to the player.
While these graphical improvements are sure to be a hit with fans, the best news for most is the sheer number of titles that will be backwards compatible. The new consoles will allow you to simply slot in your Xbox, Xbox 360 or Xbox One disc, install the game, and play. Your digital library will also be readily and automatically available on every console you sign into, so no matter how you choose to purchase and keep your games, the process should be smooth. Xbox have also said that cloud saves will soon be made free to all Xbox 360 users, so transferring everything over should be simple.
If you’re looking for more information and are keen on the more technical details of the announcement, you can head over to Xbox’s news wire and check it out for yourself.
Jess is a writer and researcher who loves games with good puzzles, good stories, and a tendency to punch you straight in your feelings. She is one of the directors of not-for-profit organisation Queerly Represent Me and is particularly interested in games told from unique perspectives that highlight themes or characters from groups that are often underrepresented. She also just really loves coffee, hot chips, and terrible superhero TV shows, and is always secretly hoping that one day the world will give her a good Sherlock Holmes game.