The PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X / S have been out for a few weeks now. And while we’ve been loving next-gen titles like Astro’s Playroom and Spider-Man: Miles Morales, many Verge staffers have been marveling at something unexpected: older games on newer consoles.
Thanks to more powerful hardware, many games now have more stable resolutions, better frame rates, and faster load times, which makes playing them even better than before. And the PlayStation Plus Collection and Xbox Game Pass offer a plethora of older titles at a monthly price that’s far cheaper than a brand-new next-gen game.
We’ve all spent time with different games, so our newsroom wanted to share some of our experiences in case you’ve been wondering just how well older games might fare on the PS5 and Xbox Series consoles.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection
I was first introduced to Halo in 2004 when I got two games for Christmas: Halo 2 and Blinx 2: Masters of Time and Space. (Full disclosure: I was more excited to play the latter than the former.)
But after I realized how disappointing Blinx 2 was, I decided to fire up Halo 2 and I was hooked. When Halo 3 came out, I spent the entire weekend in my room splitting time between the campaign and multiplayer modes. Thanks to backwards compatibility, I was able to play Halo: Combat Evolved on the Xbox 360. I drifted apart from the series after Halo 3: ODST but got back into it after I decided to buy an Xbox One so I could play Halo: The Master Chief Collection. I purchased the Xbox One bundle, which included a digital copy of the game and I felt nostalgic for my younger years.
When Halo Infinite was announced, I knew I had to buy an Xbox Series X to experience the next entry in the series. It was the only reason I wanted a Series X at launch, but disappointingly, the game was delayed until next year.
I decided to keep my Series X preorder because it’s so hard to buy either next-gen console right now. I’m glad I did because Microsoft announced that The Master Chief Collection was getting a next-gen update.
I have a pretty good gaming PC and own the compilation on console and PC, but I was excited to play this version of the game that was fully optimized for the next-gen Xbox. Fully experiencing Halo 3’s epic campaign with a frame rate higher than 30fps made me fall in love with the original trilogy all over again. The way the next-gen version of this compilation takes full advantage of the Xbox Series X has helped me fill the void Halo Infinite’s delay left, and it will surely keep me occupied until Infinite gets a new release date. —Taylor Lyles
There are so many things I could do with my new PS5, from finally learning to play Demon’s Souls to spending a few more hours swinging around a virtual rendition of New York City in Spider-Man: Miles Morales. And yet, here I am, playing more Fortnite. I can’t help it: the game is so much better on Sony’s new console.
Part of it is visual. Fortnite looks incredible on both next-gen consoles, with features like ray tracing and realistic fog bringing the battle royale island to life. When the new season launched, I spent a lot of time exploring newly introduced areas — which include an alien desert and a dense jungle arena — because they looked so vibrant and detailed. Much of it is smaller details that you really have to look for: the sun reflecting off of the Mandalorian’s helmet or the hazy glow of purple desert crystals.
But it’s also the way the game feels. It runs fast and smooth, but more importantly for me, the adaptive triggers in the PS5’s DualSense controller make shooters much more tactile and interesting. I love how I can feel the difference between each weapon based on the tension in the trigger when firing. Now when I play Fortnite on a different platform, it feels like something’s missing. —Andrew Webster
Monster Hunter World
I love Monster Hunter World, but it’s been a little awkward to play because of how Capcom keeps staggering releases. The game first came out on the PS4, then I started over on the PC version six months later for its better performance, and then I had to go back to the PS4 for the Iceborne expansion because the PC version was several months late again. The result is I never really got into Iceborne on either platform as much as I should’ve.
Now I have the best of both worlds on the PS5. Even though the PS4 version hasn’t been updated, it runs so much better on the newer console because it never had a locked frame rate. That’s the reason I wanted to play on PC in the first place, ironically, but it also means the PS5 can just throw its raw processing power at the game and achieve 60fps. I’ve been able to go back to my PS4 save, and it’s like I never stopped playing.
It’s unfortunate that a lot of last-gen games remain stuck at 30fps on the PS5 and Series X because of hard-coded limits, but Monster Hunter World is pretty much the best-case scenario. —Sam Byford
I’ve just been blown away by Uncharted 4 on the PS5. Despite playing on the same TV, I’ve been seeing elements of the actors’ performances that I didn’t notice the first couple of times I played. There are emotional beats that hit harder because I can see the acting better. Also, the sightseeing is incredible. Apparently, on the PS4 Pro, Uncharted 4 ran at 1440p, up from 1080p on the regular PS4, so I’d suspect that’s also what it’s running at on the PS5, and it just looks great. I’ll definitely be playing through the whole game again because of the improvements on the PS5.
And just for fun, I tried out Uncharted 2, a game that I first played on the PS3, and then again on the PS4 when it was mildly remastered in the Nathan Drake Collection. Playing it on the PS5, though, it felt and looked almost no different than it did on the PS4. That is, until I died, and the PS5’s ultra-fast SSD let me reload in two seconds. Next on my list: Ghost of Tsushima, which actually got a PS5-specific patch. —Mitchell Clark
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice and Final Fantasy VII Remake
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is my go-to game for testing cloud gaming services like Nvidia’s GeForce Now because of the unforgiving timing it takes to properly deflect blows with your sword and strike true. But personally, I couldn’t see myself playing through it even on my PS4 Pro because of the unstable frame rate and frame pacing on consoles.
Yet, when I fired it up on my PS5 the other night, it was butter. Smooth as can be! I didn’t want to stop testing, even though I’m so much further on my PC save. I swapped back to PS4 Pro just to check, and sure enough, stuttery as heck by comparison, even though the resolution (1800p) looks exactly the same.
The other game I can’t go back to my PS4 Pro for is Final Fantasy VII Remake. But it’s not because of the frame rate or even the fidelity (which, to my eye, looks like maybe it can maintain its dynamic resolution of 1620p more often but could be my imagination). It’s the fact that I no longer have to deal with a jet engine in my living room. More than any other PS4 game I’ve played, FFVII makes my PS4 Pro’s fan scream so loud I have to turn up the volume to make out the game. Meanwhile, my PS5 stays whisper-quiet.
I swear PS5 (right) looks slightly better, but I wouldn’t be surprised if you don’t see a difference. Image by Sean Hollister / The Verge
I’m playing through it for the first time, to be honest, after putting it off to start… and while I’m kind of kicking myself for sleeping on this pitch-perfect nostalgia bomb this long, I’m also glad I can listen to its epic orchestral score without an additional unwanted instrument screeching in the background. —Sean Hollister
PlayStation Plus Collection and Xbox Game Pass
I only had a PS4 for a few months this year, and I never owned an Xbox One, so I just haven’t played a lot of the defining games of the last console generation. But with the sheer volume of games on the PlayStation Plus Collection and Xbox Game Pass, I’ve already sunk hours into older games on both the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X.
I’ve already completed Ori and the Blind Forest, and I can’t wait to dive into its sequel, Ori and the Will of the Wisps. I’ve started to play the first Halo via The Master Chief Collection, and I intend to work through the whole Halo series before Halo Infinite comes out sometime next year. Kratos’ recent appearance in Fortnite is pushing me toward God of War sooner rather than later. Now that I’ve finished the Demon’s Souls remake, I’m eager to try Bloodborne sometime soon.
Even though there aren’t a lot of truly next-gen games to play on the consoles right now, I already have a big backlog of older games thanks to the huge library of titles on Sony and Microsoft’s subscription services. I can’t wait to catch up with the last generation of consoles on the newest hardware; I’m late to play the games, but I get to play them at their very best. —Jay Peters