Microsoft is holding fast to a promised Holiday 2020 launch for the Xbox Series X, and with so much already known about the console's hardware, there's still plenty to learn about what we'll be playing on it. Hopefully, we'll be seeing more new Series X titles soon, but today Microsoft is taking a moment to spotlight the new and improved backward compatibility features coming to the Series X.
In a new post on Xbox Wire, Director of Program Management Jason Ronald talks about some of the goal-setting, difficulties, and new techniques bound up in the Series X's backward compatibility approach. Some of the most intriguing features Ronald discusses have been mentioned in earlier previews, but there are a few fresh details to tease out in the post.
Notably, Ronald throws out some hard numbers as a tease for what Series X could do for older games' frame rates. Speaking with our friends at Digital Foundry back in March, Compatibility Program Lead Peggy Lo said Microsoft was exploring methods to boost frame rates on older titles, "maybe doubling them." That work won't be limited to slower running titles, apparently: Ronald says Microsoft is "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 also discusses machine learning-applied HDR, another backward compatibility feature, in glowing terms. Digital Foundry saw "a technical demo" of the technique working with Halo 5 and the original Fuzion Frenzy during its recent preview. Software engineer Claude Marais specified that the solution could "theoretically" be applied to all backwards compatible games. Today, Ronald frames the feature as one of the major new improvements coming to Series X backward compatibility and adds that, as a platform-level feature, it should incur "zero impact to the game's performance."
Quick Resume is another Series X platform feature that we're learning can be used with backward compatible titles. This feature promises to let players have multiple different games suspended, then resume play from the paused state "almost instantly." A few months back, Xbox's Larry Hryb confirmed that Quick Resume even works after system updates followed by a reboot.
Backward compatibility with an eye for improving performance is also something that Sony's working on for the PlayStation 5, though it has only discussed support for PlayStation 4 titles so far. It's great to see both companies making serious commitments to compatibility while also teasing higher resolutions and frame rates for older titles, but hopefully we'll also see more of what both consoles can do with brand-new games sooner rather than later.