The recent announcement by Microsoft of an additional 74 games that support their FPS Boost enhancement mode means that they are just shy of 100 games (see here – via Major Nelson) from the previous generation that will run far better than they were originally designed for. Being able to engineer these games into running at 60 or even 120 frames per second when many were aiming to make do with 30 is a heck of a technical achievement. Couple it with the visual boost from their AutoHDR system and we’re talking some seriously impressive improvements to old games making them feel like new again. These kinds of enhancements did start in the previous generation (remember Red Dead Redemption in 4K on the Xbox One X?) but it’s interesting seeing how much this is being pushed from the start of a new platform.
But then maybe people shouldn’t be too surprised by this as it’s an evolution of what they had done right in the past. At launch the Xbox 360 had backward compatible support for both Halo and Halo 2 – a lot of my early Xbox Live memories were playing Halo 2 on 360 instead of the original console. Microsoft would eventually expand the BC support to more titles and though it often got headlines for adding big games such as KOTOR it was never getting the constant attention these features are now. While they might not have been the first to offer BC support (e.g. 2600/7800, PS1/PS2) or offer enhancements in the bargain (Super Game Boy!) I think it’s a bit of a change seeing both Xbox and PlayStation leveraging their old libraries so heavily but it seems to be working for them. There’s no shortage of games for either platform that run substantially better and the opportunity to revisit these old games this way is appealing. I can’t complain about Homefront: The Revolution‘s performance at all and could see a lot of other satisfied players try it out now too as a result of the improvements now that it’s also received a healthy 60Hz bump up on the Series X/S.
PC gamers have it a lot easier here with games being “forward compatible” for a lot longer than most consoles and when there are issues developers find plenty of creative ways to work around it through patching, wrappers or even emulation through tools like DosBox or SCUMMVM. Seeing sites like GOG.com continue to support these old titles shows there is a demand there for it and the platform is pretty capable of keeping them around too once a solution is settled on. In the end all this has to be win-win for both developers and players. Developers get to see their games have an extended shelf life and better support across more platforms while players can keep playing the games they love and get more opportunities to try out titles across generations they may not have had a chance to do previously. I may be playing more “last gen” games at this point in time than I’d have expected but they play better than ever and I’m getting a lot of value from them. If that wo ks for me I hope it works for a lot of other people too. 🙂