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The 5 best freemasters on Xbox Series X/S backwards compatibility

FPS Boost and increased resolutions make old games feel new.

Updated: Nov 30, 2021 3:38 pm
The 5 best freemasters on Xbox Series X/S backwards compatibility

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Xbox Game Studios recently updated their list of Xbox Series X/S backwards compatibility software updates, most of which notably enable FPS Boost features and increase the resolution of several games from past Xbox systems. Some of these game enhancements feel and look so significantly improved that playing the older games is now a bit like playing a free remaster. 

After some ‘extensive testing’ (playing lots of video games) we’ve decided upon the 5 best video game freemasters that you can play with an old disc on a new Xbox right now. You can find out what we reckon they are, below.

Fallout 3

fallout 3 xbox series x

Fallout 3 was the Bethesda Softworks’ first and arguably best entry in the Fallout series, following the exploits of The Lone Wanderer as he makes his way through The Capital Wasteland, a burnt out version of Washington D.C. full of mutants, raiders, and people living their radioactive Mad Max lives. 

With the quality bumped up to 4K 60 FPS on Xbox Series X, and 1440p at 60 FPS on Xbox Series S, the Xbox Series X/S backwards compatibility update does basically what the RPG developers at Bethesda did to The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim when porting it to next gen before changing full price again — except for free. It’s definitely time to go back and give this one another look, if you haven’t played it in a while. War may never change, but Fallout 3 has.

Mirror’s Edge

mirrors edge xbox series xs backwards compatibility

Mirror’s Edge is from a time when EA was experimenting with new intellectual property and exciting ideas for games were at the forefront of what the California-based company was doing with their game development business. Obviously that feels like a distant memory these days (outside of their astoundingly good EA Originals indie publishing program) but intellectual properties like Mirror’s Edge, Dead Space and Mass Effect live on in the hearts of fans.

After the latest backwards compatibility update, Mirror’s Edge is much like Fallout 3 in regards to performance, running at 4K 60 FPS on Xbox Series X, and 1440p at 60 FPS on Xbox Series S. The increased frame rate makes the game action feel more responsive than ever, while the simple bump in overall picture resolution is very transformative for Mirror’s Edge and it’s striking art direction. Give this one a look.

Prey (2017)

prey xbox series xs 1

Prey is the newest game on this list, and is one where you’ll see the smallest amount of graphical improvement overall. That said, Arkane and Bethesda’s shooter game benefits greatly from FPS Boost after it’s Xbox Series X/S backwards compatibility update, going from 30FPS to 60FPS thanks to the raw power of the Xbox Series X/S console hardware.

The real advantage of going back to Prey however comes from the Xbox Series X/S consoles having an onboard SSD that massively reduces the amount of loading you have to do. Prey features quite a bit of exploration and backtracking, which was rather a chore on last-gen thanks to loading screens. Those are mostly eliminated now, so there’s never been a better time to get into this spooky immersive sim. 

Gears of War 3

gears of war 3 xbox series x 1

Gears of War 3 was the last entry in the Gears of War series made internally by Epic Games before they went off and became the giants behind Fortnite. It tells the story of Marcus Fenix and his friends in Delta Squad as they finish the COG’s fight against the Locust Queen, Myrrah. 

We’re not sure where the performance bottleneck is, but both Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S still run Gears of War 3 at 1440p and 60 FPS. This is still a stark improvement on the original game that ran below 1080p and often dipped below 30 FPS when things got too hardcore on screen. 

Thanks to performance updates the entire Gears franchise now runs at a higher level of performance on Xbox consoles than ever before, meaning that it’s never been a better time to catch up on the action-shooter series that defined the cover system for modern video games.

Sonic Unleashed

sonic unleashed windmill xbox series xs

Sonic Unleashed is a stunningly pretty platformer from Sonic Team. It’s half a 3D version of the gameplay from Nintendo DS series entry Sonic Rush, and half a God of War clone with a Werehog. The divisive game continues to cause conversations around it as people try to decide whether it’s actually any good — based on the fact that well, it feels a bit like two very different games depending on what you’re doing at the time. Your mileage may vary on how much you enjoy the title, but we think it’s a good time.

One thing that was never in any doubt however was that the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 struggled to run the high-speed Japanese action game, and would frequently have stutters and slowdowns if you went through an area that was too detailed too quickly. Some levels (like Adabat) were nearly unplayable on the original release hardware, but that is no longer the case.

Thanks to the Xbox Series X/S backwards compatibility performance update, Sonic Unleashed now runs at 4K 60 FPS on Xbox Series X and 1440p at 60 FPS on Xbox Series S like several other titles on this list. After the changes, it almost feels like SEGA accidentally developed an Xbox Series X/S Sonic the Hedgehog game all the way back in 2008. This new version feels right at home on the current Xbox, and some franchise fans have even decided to get a next-gen Xbox because of the release. 

What do you think of our choices? Are there any you think we missed? What is your favorite game on Xbox backwards compatibility? Let us know in the comments section below.

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