Xbox One backwards compatibility is the best reason to own Microsoft’s console. With recent updates, the Xbox One X in particular can now play certain Xbox 360 and original Xbox games with enhanced visuals. It’s called the Heutchy method, named after the engineer who devised this feature. During an episode of the Hanselminutes podcast, Microsoft Software Development Engineer Eric Heutchy explained why the company added a Performance Mode to the Xbox One X.
“If you wanted to see what it looked like originally, one thing we’ve seen a lot of people do is record comparisons of the graphics mode versus the performance mode. The other reason it’s in there is if there was a case where we aren’t able to maintain frame rate while running it, then our next enhanced version you could run at a higher frame rate potentially across all the games we shipped. There are basically no instances, I think there may be one or two corner cases where we don’t quite hold the frame rate running in the enhanced mode, but in terms of you just want to enjoy the game, we’re very careful to make sure that if we’re shipping an enhanced version, it keeps its frame rate and graphics mode is what you should be playing in,” he said.
“The army of testers has found one or two scenes where you look a certain direction and it slows down, but just playing through the game you’re unlikely to find that.”
As for the army of testers, he also shed light on the test processes that ensure backwards compatibility works as it should.
“We have an army of testers. They will go through and kind of, games go through these different phases of well, we ingested the binary and now we can make an emulated version of it. Then we run it for a while and capture some data about it. Then we have what we think is a shippable build and then we have them play through the entire game, start to finish, kind of trying to find every corner, make sure everything works and how they do that both on an Xbox One and the Xbox One X. Then as we get closer there are some more checks before we ship but there are a large number of people whose job is to play through these games over and over.”
And while no amount of backwards compatibility will make up for the lack of unique game experiences, hopefully E3 2018 changes that what with rumours of Halo 6 and Gears of War 5 among others to grace the Xbox One family of consoles.