The Xbox One backwards compatibility programme has thrown up plenty of surprises so far, but this one really is quite remarkable – Microsoft’s enhanced version of The Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind is one of the best examples of the boost to image quality and performance that today’s hardware delivers when running yesterday’s games.
Helmed by the immortal Todd Howard, Morrowind is an important title in the history of The Elder Scrolls series. Beyond the quality of the game itself, this is the first time a large scale, PC-style RPG would be realised on console hardware. It’s also is the game which helped pave the way for the likes of Skyrim and many other titles. With its built-in hard drive and PC-like hardware, the Xbox made a lot of sense as a target for a vast Elder Scrolls experience – at least on paper. You see, as ambitious as it was for the time, the problem is that Morrowind just doesn’t run very well on the original Xbox. Out of the box, it’s not great, but as the hours of play mount up, Morrowind’s performance and loading times gradually degrade.
With the game’s early hours at least, Microsoft’s backwards compatibility technology can make all the difference. We’ve examined Xbox 360 games running on Xbox One, but original Xbox games receive an even greater boost – something which is immediately apparent when you first fire up Morrowind on Xbox One X. The leap in visual quality is impressive, but nothing stands out more than performance. Morrowind runs at a reasonably stable 60 frames per second on Xbox One X, meaning that the least performant console Elder Scrolls game is now the fastest.
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