Xbox Series X to improve backward compatible games with HDR, increased resolutions, and higher frame rates

Laurent Giret

Xbox 360 Backwards Compatibility was definitely one of the Xbox One’s killer features during this console generation, and Microsoft wants its upcoming Xbox Series X console to go even further to preserve Xbox games from previous generations. Jason Ronald, Director of Program Management for Xbox Series X penned a long blog post today to explain how the next-gen Xbox will push backwards compatibility to the next level later this year.

First of all, Ronald announced today that Xbox Series X will be able to run “thousands” of games at launch, making the next-gen Xbox the most compatible console ever. The big change compared to how Xbox One backwards compatible games is that the Xbox Series X will run all these older games natively.

“To make the Xbox Series X our most compatible console ever required both significant innovation in the design of the custom processor as well as the unique design of the Xbox operating system and hypervisor at the heart of our next generation platform,” explained Ronald.

Xbox Series X will run all backward compatible games natively

The fact that all backwards compatible games will be able to run natively on the Xbox Series X means that these older titles will be able to leverage the full power of the Series X’s CPU, GPU, and SSD. “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 framerates and rendering at their maximum resolution and visual quality,” explained Ronald.

The custom NVMe SSD in the Xbox Series X will also help to reduce loading times in backwards compatible games. These titles will also be able to support Quick Resume, a new feature that leverages the Xbox Velocity Architecture in Xbox Series X to allow players to seamlessly switch between multiple games without losing their progression.

The custom-designed NVMe SSD on the Xbox Series X should significantly improve loading times for back-compat titles.

HDR, 4K graphics and faster framerates

With the Xbox One X, Microsoft made it possible to run all backwards compatible OG Xbox games plus select Xbox 360 games with 4K graphics on the console, without requiring game developers to write a line of code. This was already a great incentive to replay older games that didn’t receive an official remaster treatment, but Microsoft intends to do even more to improve the visuals of backwards compatibles games on the Xbox Series X, starting with an HDR implementation.

“In partnership with the Xbox Advanced Technology Group, Xbox Series X delivers a new, innovative HDR reconstruction technique that 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,” explained Ronald.

In addition to bringing HDR support to backwards compatible games running on Xbox Series X, the Xbox engineers are also working on removing the 30 FPS limit that is still so common on Xbox One games. “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,” Ronald wrote.

Microsoft wants to make more OG Xbox and Xbox 360 titles backwards compatible

If the Xbox Series X will be able to run all Xbox One games and all Xbox 360 and OG Xbox games that are already backwards compatible, the company is still looking to make more older games run on the new console. “The team also continues to listen to feedback from the community on additional titles you would like to see added to the compatibility program. Resurrecting titles from history often presents a complex mix of technical and licensing challenges, but the team is committed to doing everything we can to continue to preserve our collective gaming legacy,” Ronald explained today.

It’s really good to see the Xbox team is committed to preserving your gaming legacy, and we also remind you that the Xbox Series X will also be compatible with all your Xbox One accessories. What’s really impressive about these improvements for backwards compatible games running on the Xbox Series X is that they require no additional work from developers, with Microsoft doing all the hard work on the platform level. If you have yet to play some of the best-looking Xbox One X enhanced games such as Red Ded Redemption 2 or Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, there’s really no need to hurry as these games should look and feel much better on the Xbox Series X.