Some of the very best games for your Xbox Series S stem from generations before. While we’re seeing a lot of slightly newer titles being optimized for Xbox’s digital console, we’d argue that some older games take advantage of the power that goes into this small system even more.
From dynamic resolution bumps to – frankly – absurd frame rates for such a cheap system, thanks mainly to the FPS Boost feature, we’re going to put together a selection of older titles that take the best advantage of Series S. So, without further ado, here are 10 backwards-compatible games that have been completely transformed on Xbox Series S:
Publisher: Microsoft Studios † Developer: epic games
As the great conclusion to Epic’s original Gears of War trilogy, we still rate this as the best game in the series. However, the times have not been particularly favorable for the native Xbox 360 version. While it still looks great under the hood, the 720p resolution, 30fps target and downright awful camera shake made it hard to return to.
However, backwards compatibility has completely transformed Gears of War 3 and after the most recent update it feels like a modern game. It now runs at 1440p and 60 frames per second with FPS Boost on both Xbox Series S and X (although the FPS Boost feature has to be activated manually). The frame rate makes the game’s camera shake much more bearable, and now the game sits alongside Gears of War 4 and Gears 5 as thoroughly modern-feeling third-person shooters. We recommend it again to anyone using an Xbox Series S.
Publisher: Ubisoft † Developer: Ubisoft
Before the series got a bit stale and uninspired, Far Cry 3 was a breath of fresh air. Open world first person shooters weren’t really the norm at the time – especially on console – and Far Cry 3 delivered an impressive slice of tropical island to explore.
However, we have to talk about performance. On Xbox 360 hardware, it stayed consistently close to 20 fps, yeah… we’re not kidding† As part of Xbox’s big anniversary event last November, Far Cry 3 was added to the FPS Boost list and wow, it makes a huge difference. We’re still talking sub-1080p here, but 60fps changes the game and makes this Far Cry a joy to play in 2022. Oh and avoid the ‘Classic Edition’ on Xbox One, it’s a worse version now because of the 30 fps cap.
Publisher: Square Enix † Developer: crystal dynamics
When 2013’s Tomb Raider made its way into the then next-gen systems, it was embroiled in controversy. The Xbox One version had a hard lock up to 30 fps, just like its Xbox 360 counterpart, while the PS4 had an unlocked frame rate of up to 60 fps.
Now, thanks to FPS Boost, we no longer need to be reminded of the era when PS4 was almost always dominant. Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition now plays at a smooth 60fps and we have to admit that the visuals hold up very well too. This one hasn’t seen a resolution improvement since its debut, but the image holds up remarkably well and on a recent iteration we never missed those extra p’s.
Publisher: Square Enix † Developer: Avalanche Studios
Now Just Cause 3 is a curious one. Technically, this hasn’t improved at all on Xbox Series consoles, with the same technical goals as on the base Xbox One. We need to put an emphasis on “goals” there, though, with the game’s massive open world often trudging on the old consoles.
Just Cause 3 is notorious for performing absolutely horrendous on last generation systems. We’re talking slideshow frame rates when things really kick in – which is quite common in a Just Cause game. Thankfully, Xbox Series X|S smoothes things out completely, with the CPU actually working to deliver a good 30fps. And last but not least!
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks † Developer: Bethesda Game Studios
This 2008 Bethesda classic is highly regarded — and for good reason. It brought the Fallout series into the modern era and established Bethesda Game Studios as a team that could consistently deliver beyond just The Elder Scrolls.
However, the Xbox 360 version of Fallout 3 isn’t the best. Sure, it outperformed the PS3 — the less said about that version, the better — but rocky framerates were always present on both systems. But not on Xbox Series S – the digital Xbox brings things up to 1440p and 60fps, and things are so much smoother in the wasteland now. If you’ve been thinking about revisiting Fallout 3 and now have a Series S, just do it.