Now that Eurogamer and Digital Foundry have scored the first major reveal of Microsoft’s new, more powerful Xbox, codenamed Project Scorpio, we finally have an idea of just how much horsepower the system has under the hood. But that’s not all we’ve learned. As part of this new reporting, we also gained some insight into how Scorpio’s backwards compatibility will make Xbox One and Xbox 360 games run even better than before.
According to what Microsoft told Eurogamer, Scorpio will offer similar benefits to the PS4 Pro’s boost mode, which unlocks a portion of the system’s extra power to run all games smoother—even those without official patches. Microsoft, however, is taking a much more ambitious approach than Sony’s comparatively modest performance improvements by allowing older titles to capitalize on the full power of Scorpio’s hardware.
First, Microsoft is promising no screen tearing in any of your games, ever, and improved frame rates wherever possible. While most games have a target frame rate that can’t be exceeded no matter how much power Scorpio throws at them, any cases where title failed to meet that target will effectively be a thing of the past. No slowdowns or frame drops. If a game was designed to run at 30 frames per second, it will. If it was designed to run at 60 frames per second, it will. No ifs, ands, or buts.
On a similar note, any older games that made use of dynamic resolution—scaling how many pixels are actually being displayed to keep the frame rate steady—will now always meet the maximum resolution the developers coded in.
While those are nice performance improvements, the next bonuses are where things get really crazy. Microsoft has coded the emulation software such that any time a game tries to run texture filtering, Scorpio will automatically bump it up to 16x anisotropic filtering. In layman’s terms, that means textures will look crisper, even in games that only offered piddly texture filtering originally.
What’s more, Microsoft is promising that some Xbox One and Xbox 360 games will even load considerably faster thanks to Scorpio’s CPU boost, improved hard disk speed, and expanded RAM.
There’s one caveat to all these positives, however. As you probably already known from the endless wait for Call of Duty: Black Ops II, all backward compatibility games undergo a two step process: publisher approval and testing to ensure everything runs smoothly. It’s that second step that might cause some hiccups. As a word of warning, the company told Eurogamer that some games may not run properly when making use of the extra power, and if that happens, the boosts will need to be toned down or switched off. Given that this will happen on a case-by-case basis, however, it’s hard to say how widespread it will end up being.
Project Scorpio is still without a final name, design, or release date, but we’ll likely learn about all three at or before E3 in June. The console launches holiday 2017.