We’re now just a month away from the launch of Microsoft's Xbox Series X and Series S consoles, and today the company has shared a bit more details about how Xbox games from previous generations will run on the new consoles. Thousands of games from across four generations will be supported on the Xbox Series X and Series S at launch, and all these games will be able to use the full power of the consoles' CPU, GPU, and SSD.
In addition to faster load times and steadier frame rates, Microsoft’s next-gen Xbox consoles also introduce an Auto HDR mode for back combat titles to improve the visual quality of games that shipped before High Dynamic Range (HDR) became a mainstream technology on TV sets and gaming monitors. This Auto HDR feature will work for all back compat games, including OG Xbox games such as the popular Fusion Frenzy.
You can see below how this Auto HDR mode will be able to make colours look brighter in some areas, all that without drastically changing the developer’s artistic vision.
"Auto HDR is implemented by the system so developers don’t have to do any work to take advantage of this feature. Also, since Auto HDR is enabled by the console’s hardware, there is absolutely no performance cost to the CPU, GPU or memory and there is no additional latency added ensuring you receive the ultimate gaming experience,” explained Peggy Lo, Compatibility Program Lead at Xbox.
In addition to this Auto HDR feature, Microsoft has also created a new technology to double framerates on select back compat Xbox games. "While not applicable for many titles due to the game’s original physics or animations, these new techniques the team has developed can push game engines to render more quickly for a buttery smooth experience beyond what the original game might have delivered due to the capabilities of the hardware,” Lo explained.
You can see an example below with Fallout 4 running at 60FPS on the Xbox Series S. The Bethesda title is currently locked to 30FPS even on the Xbox One X, and doubling the framerate should make the open world RPG much more pleasant to play on next-gen Xbox consoles.
Peggy Lo also confirmed today that the "Heutchy method” that the Xbox team previously used to upgrade select OG Xbox and Xbox 360 titles with 4K graphics will continue to be used on next-gen consoles. A variety of backwards compatible games will be able to run at 1440p on the Series S and 4K on the Series X, and nearly all back compat games will also get improved image quality thanks to 16x anisotropic filtering.
"Preserving the games of our past is fundamental to our DNA at Xbox and our continued promise to you. Backward compatibility lets you experience your cherished gaming memories again and in new ways," wrote Peggy Lo. It remains to be seen if Microsoft's great work on backwards compatibility can make this feature a system seller, but Sony's efforts are still lacking in this regard. While the Japanese company recently announced that all PS4 games will run on PlayStation 5, the new console won't offer something similar to Microsoft's Auto HDR feature, or other techniques to enhance visuals and framerates.