Microsoft have confirmed quite definitively that every game that’s playable on Xbox One will also be playable on Xbox Series X|S on the day of launch. That includes all the Xbox and Xbox 360 games that were made available through backward compatibility, with only the few games that require Kinect being incompatible.
After 500K+ hours of testing, we’re are excited to share that all Xbox, Xbox 360 and Xbox One games playable on Xbox One today, except for the handful that require Kinect, will be available – and look and play better – on Xbox Series X|S at launch.
— Jason Ronald (@jronald) October 28, 2020
It’s an impressive feat, and backs up Microsoft’s statements of intent from all the way back at E3 2019 when the Series X was still known as Project Scarlett. That announcement came as Microsoft ended their backward compatibility programme for Xbox One to focus on ensuring universal support for the upcoming console, capping off the already impressive work that they had done in making previous generations compatible on Xbox One and then enhancing several titles in select ways on Xbox One X.
Xbox Series X will play all of these games at their highest possible resolutions and frame rates, enabling whatever Xbox One X enhancements were intended. The Xbox Series S, meanwhile, will play and enhance games to the maximum that was possible on the Xbox One S, again stabilising frame rates and dynamic resolutions.
Those enhancement efforts are continuing on Xbox Series X|S. Microsoft have stated that developers can go back and add new performance targets for the newer consoles with just “three lines of code“, which is admittedly a bit hyperbolic. Still, there’s other initiatives, such as Auto HDR using machine learning to add HDR to games that weren’t designed for the expanded dynamic range, which is actually enabled by default unless Microsoft identify unintended consequences to the technique.
More selectively, Microsoft are also able to double the frame rates of backward compatible games, jumping form 30fps to 60fps, or from 60fps to 120fps. This is much trickier to do, and so being applied on a case-by-case basis, but has already been demonstrated with Fallout 4 hitting 60fps on Xbox Series S.
Over on the PlayStation 5 side of things, Sony have been able to state near universal backward compatibility support, with just 10 games that were found not to work on PS5. As with Xbox, the PS5 will use its additional power to boost game resolutions and frame rates up to their programmed limits for PS4 or PS4 Pro. This means that God of War can play at 60fps in its performance mode, while Ghost of Tsushima seems to have a dedicated graphics mode for PS5 to play at 60fps, double what the PS4 Pro’s modes allow.