Microsoft today lifts the lid on its brand new FPS Boost technology – a series of system level tweaks that allows legacy Xbox One titles to run with twice or even four times the frame-rate on Xbox Series consoles. Far Cry 4, Watch Dogs 2, UFC 4, Sniper Elite 4 and New Super Lucky’s Tale are the first five titles to support the new feature – and we’ve had a chance to test them all. First impressions are impressive and the gaming experience is transformed on every game.
We’ve seen a doubling of performance on older games running on the new wave of consoles already, of course. We’ve looked at Days Gone, Ghost of Tsushima, The Last Guardian and God of War on PlayStation 5, while legacy titles running with unlocked frame-rates can also tap in to the extra horsepower of Xbox Series consoles and PS5. The difference with FPS Boost is that Microsoft’s Xbox compatibility team is working its magic this time around to adjust frame-rate caps at the Direct3D level, increasing performance within the system, without any changes at all to the original code. As far as the games are concerned, they’re still running at their original frame-rates.
In prior PR from Microsoft, the Xbox team have talked about doubling performance and at the basic level, that’s exactly what’s delivered. All of the five titles revealed today operate at 30 frames per second on Xbox One S – and four of them now run at 60fps on both Xbox Series consoles. The exception is New Super Lucky’s Tale: this targeted 4K60 on Xbox One X and 1080p30 on Xbox One S. This is bumped up to 4K120 and 1080p120 on Series X and S consoles respectively – so yes, that’s a quadrupling of performance comparing One S to Series S. There are no other changes to the game in terms of visuals, but the increase to performance is palpable: as we saw in Ori and the Will of the Wisps, platform games deliver a beautifully crisp experience at 120fps – and the Series consoles fully deliver. New Super Lucky’s Tale is on Game Pass, meaning easy access for Series users to check this one out.
The overall choice of titles may seem a little strange – we would have liked to have seen a genuine last-gen classic included in the line-up, but there’s still much to enjoy here. We’d almost forgotten just how beautiful Far Cry 4 was back in the day, and it ran rather well too on original Xbox One hardware, nigh-on locked to its target 30fps. FPS Boost locks the experience to 60 frames per second whether you’re playing on Series X or Series S. As the game is of a certain vintage, it never received Xbox One X support, so resolution is capped at 1440×1080 – but it still holds up, thanks in no small part to its HRAA anti-aliasing, an early but still impressive form of temporal super-sampling. Regardless, 60fps is a lock, and there’s none of the traversal hitching and stuttering we noted back in the day on the PC version. It’s well worth revisiting.
Watch Dogs 2 is also an interesting experience in that the doubling of performance is actually the minimal expectation – FPS Boost delivers more than that in actuality. Ubisoft’s sequel ran on Xbox One S at a 900p resolution, capped at 30fps. Unfortunately, it had trouble maintaining that performance level – frame-rate drops were commonplace during traversal and in more intense scenes (police pursuits, for example). Again, whether you’re gaming on Series S or X consoles, the experience is totally locked at 60fps – even in the fastest traversal. This is another title with high CPU demands on PC, but it just powers through on Series consoles. It runs great, but with relatively simplistic anti-aliasing, the 900p resolution does jar.
Sniper Elite 4 is well worth a look. Back in the day, we tested the game on Xbox One, PS4 and PS4 Pro and all versions ran at native 1080p, with the Sony platforms running with an unlocked frame-rate and Xbox One pegged to a max 30fps. Unfortunately, even hitting that target was problematic – Sniper Elite 4 would often drop beneath, accompanied by obtrusive screen-tearing. The game’s signature X-Ray kills would also see ugly tearing and plummeting frame-rates. Running on a more powerful console via back-compat would solve this issue, but FPS Boost goes one further by removing the 30fps cap. Now, both Series S and Series X consoles deliver 1080p60 for the most part, delivering a far, far superior experience. Interestingly, some alpha-heavy scenes and gory X-Ray kills can see Series S drop to the mid-50fps level or lower in more extreme cases, but the tearing is gone and the experience holds up very well overall. We spent a bit of time running the game on Series X, which was flawless. Shorn of its technological limitations, this game really shines – it’s on Game Pass and well worth checking out in its new incarnation.
That leaves EA’s UFC 4. Again, fighting games benefit from higher levels of performance, so the 900p30 with occasional glitches on Xbox One S transforms into a consistent 900p60 on Xbox Series S. Looking at this title on Series X is interesting: it leans into the Xbox One X codepath, where there was originally a choice between 1080p60 and 1800p30 performance and quality modes. Also interesting is that no matter which option you chose, cutscenes always ran at 30 frames per second, regardless of the mode chosen. On Series X, the 1800p quality mode now runs at 60 frames per second, while all cutscenes in all modes are also locked to the same 60fps. It’s an interesting title in that it shows that this isn’t a pure doubling of performance across the board (the 1080p60 mode still runs at 1080p60), but it’s clear from this title and New Super Lucky’s Tale that the compatibility team have a fair few levers they can pull in tweaking the experience on a per title basis.
All of these FPS Boost-enhanced games are now available to play for Xbox Series users and all of them are well worth investigating – and we suspect that like us, you’ll be impressed by the improvement here and left hungry for more, especially for Xbox One X enhanced games that should deliver a bit more bang for the buck for Series X users. If there’s one slight disappointment, it’s that three of the five games released today never received Xbox One X upgrades. Therefore, the improvement is performance-based alone, and a low resolution experience does stick out a touch on Series X consoles. Regardless, unlocked performance upgrades for legacy games is a very good thing – especially as developer updates for older titles are likely to be thin on the ground. FPS Boost also integrates with Auto HDR too and can look great, especially on Far Cry 4 – another reason to revisit a really impressive game.