It seems that Microsoft is taking a very serious approach to backwards compatibility when it comes to their upcoming console, Project Scorpio. The next generation console aims to be the most powerful in the world, with 6 teraflops of computing chutzpah behind it, and Microsoft wants to put the console's serious hardware to use to not only usher in a new generation of great games, but to end the problems of backwards compatibility forever.
How Project Scorpio Will Make Your Xbox One And 360 Games Better
For a brief summary of the power behind #ProjectScorpio, check out the announcement video:
When it comes to creating backwards compatibility, the obvious choice is to go for the path of least resistance. Whatever requires the least amount of work on your end is generally the right call, at least when it comes to getting the job done while saving as much money and man-hours as possible.
This was the approach taken by Sony with the PlayStation 4 Pro, which emulates older PS4 hardware by segregating a portion of its power. It means that Sony doesn't have to worry about making sure every previous PS4 game is compatible with their new hardware, but it also means that the full power of the PS4 Pro can't be brought to bear on older games.
Microsoft however, are going all out when it comes to making sure your previous gen games look as good as they possibly can. Rather than taking the shortcut of emulation, Microsoft have drastically rebuilt the internal architecture of the Scorpio and then sat down with every individual game in the #Xbox library to test and tweak how it runs on the system. The result is a lot of work for Microsoft, but also a new gen console that will make your #XboxOne and #Xbox360 games better looking and smoother performing than ever.
How The Scorpio Will Fix Frame Rates And Screen Tearing
According to Andrew Goossen, Technical Fellow for Graphics at Microsoft, Project Scorpio will be able to bring its full processing power to bear on any title in the Xbox One and 360 library. What this essentially means is that games that struggled to keep consistent frame rates on the Xbox One will run smooth as butter on the Scorpio.
Unfortunately, unless developers patch their titles to allow it, we won't be seeing 60fps from games that previously ran at 30fps, but we will see the 6 teraflops of power put to use to eliminate screen-tearing in older titles completely.
The Scorpio Will Deliver Maximum Resolution On Games, Including Backwards Compatible Titles
Many console titles these days use what's called dynamic scaling to handle difficult and demanding scenes and set pieces in their games. Essentially, dynamic scaling kicks in when a game is in danger of dropping below 30fps. Instead of allowing the frame rate to drop, dynamic scaling drops the resolution, keeping the game running smoothly at the cost of detail and prettiness. As Goossen put it:
"With the additional performance of the Scorpio Engine, we expect to see those titles hit the maximum render resolution that those titles support," says Goossen. "As you know, we can't boost it to 4K, but definitely the maximum resolution the game supports, we should be able to run it."
Some titles, like The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt, have already been coded with future hardware improvements in mind, which means they'll be able to reach resolutions far beyond what could be achieved on the Xbox One.
The system will also enforce full 16x anisotropic texture filtering, which for those of us who don't speak tech-nonsense means that textures will be sharper and cleaner than ever before.
Faster Loading And Retroactive Screenshots
In our books, the greatest improvement to Xbox One and 360 games that will come from the Scorpio's improved hardware is the improvement to loading times. The computing power of the Scorpio's GPU will be able to cut down on the tortuously long loading times of games like Battlefield 1, giving players more time gaming and less time leaving the room to make a sandwich while another level loads.
The Scorpio will also feature one of the greatest ideas that we can't believe hasn't appeared before on consoles, the retroactive screenshot. As long as you're capturing gameplay, you can go back through your records and pick out individual frames for screenshot sharing, with hardware improvements to prevent smearing and blurring.
It's an awesome little feature for people who love to share epic moments without having to fumble for the screenshot button in the middle of the action (and for hapless games journalists like us who need to be able to capture decent screenshots for our articles).
What do you think of Project Scorpio? Will the hardware power and backwards compatibility make up for a lack of exclusives? Let us know in the comments!