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When The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind released for the original Xbox in 2002, its performance was pretty rough. Though it was groundbreaking to get an open-word RPG of that magnitude running on a console at that time, it could not compete with the PC version. Thanks to backward compatibility and the power of the Xbox One X, Morrowind is running better than ever.
Morrowind came to the backward compatibility program a few days ago on April 17 along with a batch of other original Xbox games. Now that Digital Foundry has had the chance to test it out, they found some impressive improvements.
Over 15 years ago, Morrowind struggled to hit 30FPS on Xbox due to its uncapped frame-rate, which resulted in significant fluctuations that were quite noticeable. On Xbox One X, the game consistently hits a smooth 60FPS. There are areas where it dips into the low 50s, but overall it’s a massive enhancement.
As for its visuals, those received a boost as well. It maintains its 4:3 aspect ratio but its resolution now nears 2560x1920p. In comparison, Morrowind on Xbox was designed for CRT televisions with 480p output. If you’re running it on an Xbox One S you’ll still be treated to better visuals than the original, though this time the improvements aren’t as great. Morrowind on an Xbox One S hits around 1280x960p with slightly worse performance than its counterpart on Xbox One X.
Digital Foundry also tested out the game’s load times, and while they also received a boost, it is unknown if they will get worse over time with more save files. With hundreds of hours in playtime, Morrowind on Xbox could be hit with severe performance issues that affected its load times and frame-rate. A similar issue affected Skyrim on PS3, though Bethesda eventually issued a patch for that. No such patch was issued for Morrowind. Without being able to transfer saves and test hundreds of hours on an Xbox One X at this point, the team was unable to definitively say if this problem was fixed. Still, it’s reasonable to assume that the Xbox One X will help mitigate the issue to some degree.
If you’ve never played Morrowind and want to try it out for yourself, you can pick it up for $14.99 through the Microsoft Store.