‘The Witcher 2’ Made Free, Xbox One Backwards Compatibility January Update Released

Microsoft released its slate of backwards compatible Xbox One games Thursday, along with a special surprise for one of the games listed. The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Enhanced Edition is available as a free download in select regions.

The list of Xbox One backwards compatible titles is not particularly spectacular for the January release. In fact, it looks sparse compared to the November and December slates, and it is still missing previously promised titles such as Call of Duty: Black Ops. Still, there are a couple of gems for new console owners to check out from the days of the Xbox 360.

In addition to The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, the January backwards compatibility update makes Skullgirls, Soulcalibur, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. A couple of quirky Xbox LIVE Arcade titles are also thrown in the mix, such as Space Giraffe, Small Arms, and Age of Booty.

The big news though is The Witcher 2 being available as a free download. This was the first title in the series made available on consoles and serves as a fulfilling prelude to one of 2015’s top role-playing titles, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.

The Witcher 2 will be available as a free purchase from the Xbox Store through February 5. However, this special promotion is only available in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France, and Germany.

The January update also signals a change with the Xbox One backwards compatibility program going forward.

“Based on your feedback, the Xbox Engineering team will start to pilot a new way to launch Xbox One Backward Compatibility titles. Starting today, we’ll release titles as they become available, rather than a set monthly launch date,” it was announced by the Xbox Wire staff. “What this means for you is that you won’t have to wait to find out the latest titles; we’ll release whatever is available, when they’re available, once each title has received the engineering and publisher stamp of approval.”

Xbox One backwards compatibility has been a hit for the console since it was announced at E3 2015. In addition to providing one of the biggest applause points of Microsoft’s press conference, console owners have dropped more than 21 million hours into playing Xbox 360 games on their new console thus far.

There have been some issues with Xbox One backwards compatibility though. As Eurogamer recently pointed out, some game have seen performance issues. Halo: Reach’s performance has been lackluster, rendering some sections of the game nearly unplayable. Likewise, Mass Effect sees problems during framerate dips during combat while Gears of War: Judgment is deemed “nearly unplayable due to severe performance drops.”

The performance issues of Xbox 360 games on the Xbox One are largely on a case-by-case basis. Performance is actually improved in some cases, however. For example, games like Hydro Thunder and Condemned see better performance overall, while there are spots of improvements such as the elevator loading scenes in Mass Effect.

As the Inquisitr previously covered, Xbox One manages backwards compatibility by emulating the entire Xbox 360 operating system. This allows Xbox 360 games to run on the Xbox One without any special coding or other workarounds. The major hurdle that is left is licensing agreements with the development studios and publishers to allow the games to be played on the Xbox One and listed for sale on the Xbox Store for the console.

As a reminder, the free January Games with Gold Xbox 360 titles for are backwards compatible, too. Deus Ex: Human Revolution is the current offer with more coming at the start of February.

[Image via CD Projekt RED]