Play Entire Generations of Xbox Gaming on the Xbox Series X and S

Xbox Logo
(Image credit: Xbox)

We're less than one month away from the launch of Microsoft's next generation of gaming consoles; the Xbox Series X and the Xbox Series S. While one will empower gamers to game at 4K, and the other at 1440p, there's one thing that both consoles will be able to do: Providing owners of either console with a vast catalog of Xbox games that spans generations, all of which will be accessible as soon as both consoles are available.

Microsoft has been keen on providing backward compatibility for quite some time now and doubled down on this initiative for the past few months. It started with both the Xbox One backward compatibility program, which ended not too long ago since that console was discontinued. It didn't mean the work stopped, though; instead, the focus switched over to the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S.

Trust me when I say that what Xbox has accomplished will ensure that you'll want to revisit those old games that you haven't played in a while.

Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S glamour shot-01

(Image credit: Xbox)

How's this all going to work?

Thanks to the power that's packed into the Xbox Series X and Series S, backward compatible games will see a visual jump. This means that games that may not have run quite so well on the Xbox 360 or the Xbox One will run at their fullest on the new platforms as the developers originally envisioned them, and without the need of a boost mode. Backward compatible games that either ran at 30 frames per second or struggled to hit that magic 60 frames per second will be a thing of the past, as both consoles will push them further and faster.

For example, Xbox showcased a game that was notorious for running poorly on the Xbox One and even the Xbox One X – Fallout 4. Both consoles struggled to keep the game running at a solid 30 frames per second, while the Xbox Series X and Series S can run the game as it was meant to be.

Take a look at the video of Fallout 4 being played on the Xbox Series S below:

We're not just talking better frame rates either, as games will also feature improved texture filtering and enhanced anisotropic filtering. Most backward-compatible games will see an improvement to 16x anisotropic filtering.

We can't forget to mention HDR (High Dynamic Range), which has become synonymous with existing and upcoming next-generation games. Here, both consoles will apply what Xbox has coined "Auto HDR." This will add HDR enhancements to games - even if they were developed and shipped without HDR support. This feature will complement the original artistic intent of games and will not require any support from developers. It will be applied on the fly, all by the hardware on the Xbox Series X and Series S, and won't impact your gaming experience.

Xbox Auto HDR Feature

(Image credit: Xbox)

What does this all mean for you?

For those of you who are either upgrading to the Xbox Series X or Series S, or making their first Xbox console purchase, either console will benefit from backward compatibility enhancements.

All backward compatible games will feature higher frame rates, enhanced visual definition, and unlike a remaster, which typically includes these features at a cost, it won't cost anything extra. If you already own the game, you'll just insert the disc into the Xbox Series X or download it from Xbox Live to your Xbox Series S. 

All those games that you loved but don't play anymore for one reason or another are about to get a new lease on life. I already know a few older games that I loved but didn't perform the best that I'll be revisiting again.

The Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S will be released on November 10th, 2020.

Keith Mitchell

Keith Mitchell is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He is an IT professional during the day, and a passionate lover of video games and tech after his 9-5 grind. He has a weird affinity for Soulsborne games and plays them non-stop.