Xbox Series S enhances backward compatible original Xbox and Xbox 360 games

Xbox Series S
Xbox Series S (Image credit: Microsoft)

What you need to know

  • There's been some concerns over how Xbox Series S handles backward compatible games.
  • According to Digital Foundry, it's not as cut-and-dry as previous reports indicated.
  • Xbox Series S will increase the resolution of original Xbox and enhanced Xbox 360 games to 1440p.
  • Further improvements like doubling framerates are also possible.

After the official reveal of the Xbox Series S, one bit of concern has been about how the console will run backward compatible games in Xbox One S mode, rather than applying the Xbox One X enhancements like the Xbox Series X allows. While this is true for Xbox One games, it's appears it's actually a lot more complicated when it comes to other titles like original Xbox or enhanced Xbox 360 games.

Per Digital Foundry, Xbox Series S enhanced original Xbox games by a factor of 3x, increasing the resolution from 480p to 1440p. Similarly, enhanced Xbox 360 titles like have their resolution increased by 2x to 1440p. While this isn't the 4K upgrade seen on the Xbox One X that will carry over to Xbox Series X, it's a far cry from leaving the games untouched in spite of the more limited Xbox Series S specs.

In addition to supporting the same "auto HDR" machine learning that the Xbox Series X can apply to games like Halo 5: Guardians, the Xbox Series S will also support the doubling of framerates for select games.

"We designed the Series S to enhance the Xbox One S games in a way that the Xbox One X can't do," system architect Andrew Goossen told Digital Foundry. "We made it easy for existing Xbox One S games to be updated to run with double the frame-rate when played on Series S as well."

This is just another factor to keep in mind when deciding between the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S. Preorders for both consoles are set to open on September 22, with the Xbox Series X costing $499 and the Xbox Series S costing $299. Both consoles are scheduled to release on November 10.

Xbox Series X/S


Samuel Tolbert is a freelance writer covering gaming news, previews, reviews, interviews and different aspects of the gaming industry, specifically focusing on Xbox and PC gaming on Windows Central. You can find him on Twitter @SamuelTolbert.

  • Best value in gaming. Almost all the bells and whistles of Series X, while buying in this Gen at $299.
  • "Best value in gaming."
    * in your opinion.
  • Well, that IS a comment on a comment section of the internet, so that should be implied. 😛
  • @Avatar of Apathy
    Not necessarily. A comment can have objective statement.
    I've seen so often how opinions are seen as facts. Some push their opinions as facts and I've had arguments about these.
    Things like "XB controllers is the best", "XB Live is the best online" or "PS has the best games".
    All these are opinions, yet some people will see it as facts...
    Now, it looks like the new thing os to push the "value" argument as an objective fact when it's clearly not...
  • I think you missed the point that a comment section of the internet is where you should not go to get facts of any kind. 😉 Some of use try not to talk out of our asses or outright lie, but the past 20+ years of internet comments have show this is not to be the case in general.
  • Yup it's true. And it's happening whenever there is partisan discussions, from politics to gaming...
    Where the priority of some people is a company, brand, political movement/leader, sporting team or whatever... And they would do anything for that organisation/mouvement. And it's not just lying it's doing things they probably wouldn't usually do in real life or if it's an opponent doing it. As an example, I remember fans of football team in the Europe defending one of their players for racists comment and downplaying it. But it's easy, this can be done on internet.
  • That's your opinion that that's his opinion.
  • @FiveIron
    No, it's not an opinion, it's a fact. An opinion (what he posted) cannot be anything but an opinion.
    Calling it a fact would be wrong.
  • Was never in any doubt. The Series S was designed alongside the Series X. Framerates will be fantastic. The Coalition have already showed Gears 5 running on Series S at 120fps. It's a more capable system than One X. And is great for last Gen games and is next Gen ready at lower resolutions. It's a fantastic option for PS gamers to dabble in Xbox Exclusives as a 2nd machine at low cost. And also a great system for those who maybe don't have the money to drop £450 on a beast.
  • I absolutely agree with you. I'm currently a PS4 owner but I will buy a Series S for the next generation because of the REAL backward compatibility, the low-price of the console itself, and the store in regional prices (which Sony doesn't has in my region).
    Another thing is that I've contacted an Xbox support employee and asked him about the backward compability aspect of the Series S, and he replied that the console WILL run games even better than on the Xbox One X , being the only catch that they will be on 1080p or 1440p; which makes me really happy because I don't care about the 4K resolution but I do care about the overall improvements (such as better framerate, antialiasing, stability, etc).
  • Especially when people get it for 200-250 on black Friday
  • Uh... Did you actually read the article? The Series S is being capped at 1440P regardless of what emulation system is being upscaled from, the One X upscales to 4K. Now I've always been of the mindset that the One X can handle higher resolutions than the Series S due to significantly faster memory management and much higher GPU cores but obviously lacks the newer features that will make modern games look prettier. Now making statements like "the Series S is a more capable system than the Xbox One X"on an article that is stating that early generation backwards compatibility is going to be sub optimal compared to the older machine is a little bit laughable. Personally in this instance I'm actually leaning more towards the Series S being artificially hindered by Microsoft in order to make owners of the One X upgrade to the Series X and not the Series S, but that's just my cynicism showing.
  • This has kind of been known for quite a while. Anyone that follows gaming news knows that it was leaked months ago that Xbox series would be capable of auto enhancing/ upscaling games. The series s has its own form of enhancing. It's just not using the assets of Xbox one X enhanced games. But once it was reported that it wouldn't have Xbox one X enhancements, all the doom and gloomers began to chime in. The series S was never meant to run games in 4k/60fps. That's what the series X is for. The whole point was to deliver a console with lower resolutions , but with next Gen performance. I can't believe that's so hard for so many people to comprehend. Though in one interview, Jason "the man with the iron beard" Ronald did mention that the series S is capable of 4k, but it is up to developers to use it because that's not what it was designed to do. The best performance is at the intended lower resolutions.
  • My skepticism comes from the fact that it is upscaling to 1440P regardless of the source. Now you can't honestly tell me that the Series S couldn't handle Xbox 360 games at 4K, let alone original Xbox, this seems more like Microsoft is intentionally res limiting the Series S to prevent people doing a "sidegrade" (I know it isn't that, but for the purposes of the comment I'll use that term) from the Xbox One X instead of an upgrade to the Series X.
  • Just don't waste this on a 4k tv.
  • Or waste a 4k TV with this , I meant
  • But only high end 4K TV's will be able to deliver the high frame rates and HDR these consoles will deliver, so they aren't really wasting much. Unfortunately just like early HD, the market has been flooded with sub-par 4K TV's that don't deliver the full experience... and the Series S is also perfect for them!
  • The Series S is not capable of producing produce 4k resolution in games. My point is if you have a 4k TV...the better choice would be the Series X.
  • It actually is capable of 4K. Google Jason Ronald interview. I believe he's the lead engineer for the Xbox series consoles. This series S shares the same chipsets as the series X only with a lower powered GPU. Even though 1440p is the intended recommended performance resolution, he said that it's up to the developers to decide whether or not to use 4k.
  • @Danny Morrison resolution is one part of the equation. But if its 4K at 30 FPS it won't be pleasant experience especially for fast paced shooters. It's better to target/cap at 1440P and higher frame rates with smoother frame times. 4K 30FPS is perfectly fine for games like flight simulator as you are hardly doing any sort of rapid movement.
  • This seems like MS is artificial limiting the Xbox Series S to not hit 4K or maybe the Xbox Series S is weaker than I'm even thinking. I predict that some games won't hit a native 1080p on the Series S or have modes that don't, but I can't see it not having the capabilities to hit 4K on emulated 360 games when the One X does it.
  • It's not artificially limited, it's been specifically capped for 1440P at the hardware level lol...
  • Are your seriously trying to tell me that the Series S hardware isn't capable of running ORIGINAL Xbox games at 4K? Please. Of course it can, they've clearly put a limiter on the system.
  • So Auto HDR is DirectML? In any case it's awesome to see backwards compat games being still accessible for newer generations of gamers.