Level Up: How the PS5 and Xbox Series X are giving old games a new lease of life
Console gaming has always been held back in some ways. Whether it’s through lacklustre performance or image quality which doesn’t reach the full potential many games are capable of there are always technical choke points.
As a result, traditionally the best graphics and by extension experience has traditionally been a luxury limited to people with ultra powerful gaming rigs. But I’d argue this notion is now a thing of the past thanks to the arrival of the PS5 and Xbox Series X.
With them we finally have consoles that are intentionally outfitted to offer a PC quality experience with little compromise, and some of the results we’ve seen in the past few months have been downright transformative.
I’m not just talking about first-party exclusives like Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales or Demon’s Souls, either. Both consoles have introduced “enhanced” updates for a growing list of games which bring ample improvements to existing games that millions are still playing. Destiny 2 has had its performance doubled and now renders at a native 4K, while Dark Souls 3 now operates at a locked 60 frames per second.
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Some of these changes have occurred naturally as a consequence of more powerful hardware, while others have been curated with the console’s advantages in mind. One of the most striking examples came this week with a new update for Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. Respawn Entertainment’s space opera slasher is a fantastic game, but it performed terribly on older consoles.
It was rightfully critiqued for its technical issues, and still holds such scars over a year since its original release. But this new patch remedies many of them, and makes Fallen Order a relative treat to play on PS5 and Xbox Series X. It can now achieve 60 frames per second on all three new consoles, with its resolution dancing from 1080p to a full-fat 4K image. Mileage will inevitably vary, but there’s no denying that Respawn Entertainment has put some serious work in here.
Fallen Order is an action experience which relies on fast reflexes to master its combat system, which reward players for exact parries and well-timed dodges to dominate their enemies. Now such things are much easier to accomplish, and moment-to-moment gameplay is simply more fun than it ever was before. With the game available for as little as £4 on EA Play, new players have an easy way to jump in and see what all the fuss is about.
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While its narrative remains stilted thanks to the dryness of lead character Cal Kestis, Fallen Order is still a joy, and one of the Star Wars games ever made. It’s wild how such an update can completely alter your perception on a game, and I hope this becomes a habit in the months and years to come. I can think of several games I’d kill to be enhanced for the new consoles, and not just through native backward compatibility.
I also admire the forward nature of Respawn Entertainment’s communication with fans about the update. It published a blog post featuring all of the new features and modes in simple terms, even if it paints them in a negative light. I mean, the PS5’s 1200p resolution is definitely lower than I’d like, but it’s a worthy compromise for the near locked 60fps. Unlike it’s PS4 iteration, PS5 does not have the option to switch between performance and quality modes.
It’s a small thing, but open communication about how games are being enhanced for new platforms will only entice players to try them out a first, second or even third time. I’m still itching to see titles like Final Fantasy 7 Remake receive the true 4K/60fps treatment, since it’s a game that almost certainly deserves it. With any luck, old games will continually occupy the limelight as creators ensure their works aren’t forgotten, and a find a welcome home in the new generation.