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Xbox One 360 Emulator Hands-on

At this year’s E3 Xbox Briefing I have to admit what stole the show for me was the news that Microsoft has managed to crack the problem of Xbox 360 compatibility on the Xbox One and they are releasing the feature later this year!

While there are only a handful of games compatible with the emulation at this stage (If you are lucky enough to be in the Xbox One Preview program) there are supposedly a hundred titles that will be compatible when it launches. A full list of games that Preview members can play now can be found here....

http://www.xbox.com/en-GB/xbox-one/backward-compatibility

What’s cool though is unlike the PS4’s ability to play PS3 games via streaming, the Xbox 360 Emulation runs locally and better still it does not cost you anything more to play your existing games! Thus if you own the game already you don’t have to pay a subscription service.

It seems that Microsoft made the emulator in such a way that only a nod from the developer is all that is needed for you to play the 360 game on your Xbox One.

As a result a petition was made over at the Xbox Forum which allows you to vote on which game(s) you want to see running on the Xbox One http://xbox.uservoice.com/forums/298503-game-requests (top of the list is Red Dead Redemption).

Additionally the 360 emulator works with digital and physical disc copies! The only stipulation with the latter is that when you go to install the game it will ask you to download an update so it can run.

How to access your digital games

You will find your digital games either in the store or via the ‘My Games & Apps’ thumbnail – just scroll to the far right.

You can then install and play the game just like you would on the 360. You can see all of this in action in my video at the base of the article.

A Virtual 360

When playing games on the 360 emulator I have to admit even in this early stage they are running pretty much as if they were working on the physical machine!

Additionally if your 360 gameplay was saved to the cloud (Xbox Live) you can also continue from where you left off and vice versa. For example if you play using the emulator and save the game you can continue on the physical 360 from where you left off.

You can also press the select and menu buttons on your Xbox One controller to bring up the 360 Guide during gameplay and access messages, achievements and that sort of thing.

What’s even cooler is that you can party chat with 360 owners and even play multiplayer games! The only downside is that the peripherals won’t work, such as the Kinect.

Additionally you won’t earn any specific Xbox One achievements for playing a 360 game. For example if you have already earned the achievement on the 360 then you have already got it. However you can still earn a 360 specific achievement, as after all you are technically running a 360.

Update: It now seems that all 360 DLC will work with the emulator!

Xbox One to PC Streaming

I also tested the 360 emulator with the new Xbox One to PC streaming and it manages to cope pretty well over a wired connection. So this adds another feather to the emulator's cap. You can see my article on the Xbox One to PC game streaming here.

Xbox One Features

Another benefit of running the emulator through the Xbox One is the ability to use Xbox One specific features, such as the GameDVR and Xbox Record that options  - to save gameplay and screenshots! Additionally you can snap other programs to the side while playing the 360 game, thus the emulation software pretty much works just like an Xbox One App.

Final thoughts

Even in its early stages the 360 emulation software is superb and it’s a clever move by Microsoft to get all of the 360 owners, who on the fence, to upgrade to the latest console. Though I suspect the key will be, how many developers will get on-board with the program.

Either way the 360 emulation is great. Plus with Windows 10 coming to the platform later this year, alongside a new UI, a professional controller upgrade, plenty of exclusives and Xbox One to PC streaming, the Xbox One certainly has a brighter future than it did a few year's back when the console was first launched. Kudos to the Xbox team for turning things around!

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