We’ve been hearing a lot about backwards compatibility lately from both Xbox and PlayStation and for good reason. With nearly 180+ million last-generation consoles having been sold and players owning hundreds of games digitally, it only makes sense for Xbox and PlayStation to allow players to continue to enjoy those libraries. Xbox has been more progressive in this area and this morning, provided a deeper look at what players can expect from original Xbox, Xbox 360, and Xbox One titles on their new Xbox Series X or S.
You can find the post via Xbox News Wire here, or we’ve summarized it below.
Modern games often implement high dynamic range (HDR) to improve overall visual quality. HDR allows a game to render a much larger range of brightness values and colors. This gives an extra sense of richness and depth to the image when compared to a standard dynamic range (SDR) image. For example, the light from a flashlight looks much brighter and red flowers look much more vibrant.
However, thousands of Xbox games shipped before HDR was first introduced with Xbox One S, and even for some Xbox One games, developers simply didn’t have the development resources or time to implement HDR. With Xbox Series X and Series S we are introducing a new feature named Auto HDR. Auto HDR automatically adds HDR enhancements to games which only shipped with SDR. Auto HDR enhances the visual quality of an SDR game without changing the original artistic intent of the game. 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.
The below images show how Auto HDR can improve the visual quality without changing the overall look of the game. The HDR images are brighter and more colorful only in the naturally expected areas, while the rest of the image retains its original intent.
Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S bring next-gen performance to your favorite games. Higher, steadier framerates make games feel smoother, resulting in more immersive gameplay. Many improvements are the result of the custom designed processor that allows compatible games to play and leverage the increased CPU, GPU and memory from the new consoles. In addition however, the backward compatibility team has developed new methods for effectively doubling the framerate on select titles. 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. Fallout 4 framerate, shown below, is effectively doubled from 30fps to 60fps on Xbox Series S, delivering a new way to preserve and enjoy this legendary title.
On the Xbox One, we were able to provide a curated list of titles that were enhanced for the Xbox One X via the Heutchy method. This allowed titles from Xbox 360 that rendered at 720p and original Xbox games that ran at 360p to play at 4K on Xbox One X, well beyond the capabilities of their original platform. The Heutchy method continues to be used to bring a variety of titles to 1440p on Xbox Series S and 4K on Xbox Series X.
Improved texture filtering is also coming to backward compatible titles on both Xbox Series X and Series S. On Xbox One X, a portion of the catalog benefited from increased anisotropic filtering, improving image quality of games. On Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S, 16x anisotropic filtering has been enabled for nearly all backward compatible titles so you can experience the very best visuals the games have to offer.
We’ve love that there’s such a focus on backwards compatibility going into next-gen. Being able to revisit some of our favorite titles, that we continue to play today, with far better performance is a very welcome addition to upgrading. It’s more akin to the PC experience where after upgrading your components, you play your favorite games in a whole new light. We can’t wait!