The fact that Microsoft has been able to get Xbox 360 titles to work on Xbox One is really impressive, since emulating modern console architecture is a really challenging task for developers. The feature is now available but the results are varied, according to an extensive investigation done by Eurogamer’s Digital Foundry.
One of the most positive things is that Xbox One implements vertical sync across the board and that it allows Xbox 360 games to run without any screen tearing at all.
For those of you not familiar with screen tearing, it’s a visual artefact in video display where a device shows information from multiple frames in a single screen draw. In other words: you get lines across the screen where the image doesn’t match up.
Some games run better on Xbox One, compared to Xbox 360, due to faster texture streaming. The original Gears of War and Hydro Thunder are titles reported to run better on Xbox One due to this.
Some titles are described as “nearly unplayable” due to major performance issues that cause the framerate to plummet. Two of these games are: Gears of War: Judgement and Halo: Reach. This is particularly disappointing since Halo: Reach is the Halo shooter without a dedicated Xbox One version.
Some games, like Mass Effect, see improvements in some sections like load time and exploration sequences but according to the report the combat sequences are “a mess”.
Overall, Microsoft has done a great job in bringing Xbox 360 games to Xbox One. But from what I read about the report it seems like the company could do a better job of green lighting certain releases on a compatibility list as Microsoft’s emulation improves over time.