Both the Xbox Series X and Series S will benefit from Microsoft’s commitment to backwards compatibility, bringing games from all of its console generations to its latest one. They’re not, however, just simple ports, with many benefitting from improved resolution, increased frame rates, and additional features such as HDR.
Microsoft has detailed how each of these features works individually, with examples from across all its generations. Perhaps the most technically exciting is the introduction of HDR, which is retroactively applied to games using an AI-assisted tool. This means games as old as Blinx: The Time Sweeper and Fuzion Frenzy can now be enjoyed with Auto HDR, with no impact to the game’s performance or overall artistic direction.
If you’re looking to just enjoy older games with better performance, backwards compatibility on the Series X/S will improve upon the 4K upscaling already present on the Xbox One X. Using what Microsoft calls the Heutchy method, games originally rendered at as low as 360p will benefit from reconstruction and upscaling to 4K (or 1440p in the case of the Series S), ensuring a crisp image when played on a modern display.
Frame rates are improved too thanks to the more powerful hardware in both new consoles, with Microsoft using Fallout 4 as an example. The comparison shows how the open-world RPG struggled to maintain a locked 30FPS on Xbox One, while it easily reaches 60FPS on the Xbox Series S. Microsoft mentions that only compatible games will benefit in this way, suggesting that titles without unlocked frame rates will not be able to push above previously defined framerate limits without a patch.
Both the Xbox Series X and Series S will play all Xbox One titles via backwards compatibility at launch, along with the list of Xbox 360 and Xbox titles that are already backwards compatible on current-generation consoles. Both the Series X and Series S launch on November 10.