Xbox Series X may enhance Xbox 360, OG Xbox games too

'We're looking for opportunities to enhance titles further than you've seen before.'

15 minutes & 14 seconds read time

The Xbox Series X could upgrade and enhance games from legacy generations including the Xbox 360 and even original Xbox era.

Xbox Series X may enhance Xbox 360, OG Xbox games too 5

Microsoft has high aspirations for the Xbox Series X's extensive backward compatibility. The next-gen Xbox will play four generations' worth of Xbox games. If it's playable on Xbox One, it's playable on the Xbox SX, the company says. And the new console will play all of these games even better thanks to an on-console boost mode that natively upscales resolution, frame rate, and performance of older games. But Microsoft could take this even further and bring higher-end upgrades like ray tracing to older-gen games (look at Quake II RTX, for example).

In a recent Major Nelson podcast, Xbox exec Jason Ronald says the backward compatibility team wants to push the bar higher than ever before and enhance games beyond their current state.

"Our back compat team is one of the best in the industry, and we're really looking at new opportunities the Xbox Series X gives us to enhance titles even further than you've seen them before.

"As a member of the team, I can say the team loves these franchises just as much as players and developers over the years. It's critically important to us that they always respect the artistic integrity of the original creator, but at the same time too we want thse games to look and play better than you've ever seen them before.

"The team is constantly inventing brand new techniques, things we never even thought were possible, to really push the boundaries.

"It's really awesome to see the creativity and innovation coming from that team. It's the exact same team that did the Xbox 360 compatibility and the original Xbox compatibility on the Xbox One. The exact same team is continuing to push the state-of-the-art on the Xbox Series X."

(Continued below)

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Read Also: Xbox Series X's Smart Delivery game upgrades explained by Microsoft

The potential here is huge. We could see OG Xbox games resurrected in a brand new way, or even Xbox 360 games enhanced with new tighter frame rates and maybe even 4K resolution. It all depends on the innovations by the back compat team, the available assets, and what developers are willing to add in.

Right now the Xbox Series X has two forms of backward compatibility innovations. Here's how they work.

Native backward compatibility

Every game that's playable on the Xbox One is playable on the Xbox Series X, from OG, Xbox 360 titles, and every single Xbox One game. The console will automatically touch-up, accelerate, and overall boost these games by default.

Gamers don't need to download or install anything extra to reap these benefits. The console handles this scaling internally.

Enhancement patches and upgrades

Developers can also roll out specific enhancement patches for their games, similar to the Xbox One X enhancements that added 4K HDR and higher frame rates to Xbox One games.

These aren't automatic and have to be issued by developers. Devs have full discretion on when, if, and how they use these upgrades. The updates have a greater potential to upgrade games to new heights, including adding support for 120FPS, ray tracing, ultra fast loading times, and boosted resolutions.

Using the new Smart Delivery system, the Xbox Series X will automatically identify assets, downloads, and upgrades and install them to the system.

Xbox Series X is due out by Holiday 2020. No pricing has been announced.

Check below for confirmed specs and details, and a huge content listing of everything we've heard about Xbox Series X so far:

Xbox Series X confirmed details (Formerly Project Scarlett):

  • 8-core, 16-thread Zen 2 CPU
  • Navi GPU on RDNA architecture
  • Highly customized 7nm SoC from AMD
  • GDDR6 memory
  • 2x Xbox One X's 6TFLOPs of GPU perf
  • 4x CPU power of Xbox One generation
  • Can deliver up to 40x more performance than Xbox One in specific use cases
  • Adaptive sync supported
  • Super-fast SSD that can be used as VRAM
  • Supports 8K resolution (likely media playback)
  • 120FPS gaming
  • Variable refresh rate (adaptive sync/FreeSync)
  • Variable Rate Shading
  • Raytracing confirmed with dedicated raytracing cores
  • Backward compatible with thousands of Xbox, Xbox 360, and Xbox One games
  • New controller with a dedicated share button
  • Compatible with Xbox One accessories

Lockhart (Unconfirmed lower-end Xbox Series hardware)

  • 1440p 60FPS
  • No disc drive
  • Super-fast SSD that can be used as VRAM
  • 7nm AMD SoC w/ scaled-down 8-core, 16 thread Zen 2 CPU at 3.5GHZ and Navi GPU
  • Lower GDDR6 memory pool (Possibly 12GB)
  • ~6-8 TFLOPs of power?
  • Aims to rival PS4 Pro/Replace Xbox One S
  • Full backward compatibility with all Xbox One games
  • Cheaper MSRP

Anaconda/Xbox Series X/Project Scarlett

  • 4K 60FPS
  • Disc drive with 4K UHD playback
  • Super-fast SSD that can be used as VRAM
  • 7nm AMD SoC with 8-core, 16 thread Zen 2 CPU at 3.5GHz and Navi GPU
  • 16GB GDDR6 RAM
  • 12 TFLOPs of power
  • 2x GPU power as Xbox One X/aims to replace Xbox One X
  • Full backward compatibility with all Xbox One games
  • More expensive MSRP

Xbox Series X coverage:


Derek joined the TweakTown team in 2015 and has since reviewed and played 1000s of hours of new games. Derek is absorbed with the intersection of technology and gaming, and is always looking forward to new advancements. With over six years in games journalism under his belt, Derek aims to further engage the gaming sector while taking a peek under the tech that powers it. He hopes to one day explore the stars in No Man's Sky with the magic of VR.

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