Emulators have been a booming ‘business’ since the ‘90-s; we put it in quotes because emulators are a non-profit business, they’re completely free and developed mostly by either a team of volunteers or are open-source and developed by the community on websites such as GitHub. So far, we’ve seen just about all the consoles getting their emulators for PC, but our main topic here, Xenia Emulator, stands out among the rest. What makes it so special, one could ask. Xenia is the first Xbox emulator that has managed to successfully run a full Xbox game.
A small digression here will be made to explain why there were no Xbox emulators before Xenia, and why there were none made after it, either. Xbox’s architecture and CPU are rather similar to a PC CPU, so that would be no problem, but the graphics are very tricky to transfer properly. Combine that with a rather small number of Xbox exclusives that anyone would want to play on the PC, and you get the answer to that question.
However, Xenia is marching ahead proudly, and in the last couple of months at the time of writing (which would be August 2020) huge improvements have been made and a lot more games are now playable and even able to be completed fully. Bear in mind this list might include non-Xbox exclusive games, also, but it’s a list of the games that run the smoothest on Xenia at the moment.
Red Dead Redemption
This Rockstar Games’ Wild West-themed survival gem was finished for Xenia only recently and, although the game is completely playable, from start to finish, it appears as though two different versions of Xenia are required, namely Canary and Master. What makes this game very interesting is the rise in popularity it gained when its sequel, Red Dead Redemption 2, was released earlier this year and the fact that, unlike said sequel, it isn’t available on PC.
This game runs on 20-ish fps with a few fps drops and brief screen freezes here and there, on stronger configurations, which include i7 or higher CPU and GPU in the Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 1050 class minimum. One major difference between Xenia and other consoles’ emulators is that, unlike the usual high CPU usage, it’s very low here, rarely going above 30% on said configurations, but the GPU usage is abnormally high – Xenia is a very hungry girl and she takes up basically all of the GPU, sitting at 98-99% usage constantly, and even then there’s screen tearing going on. If anything, Red Dead Redemption on Xenia gives us all a reason to look forward to Nvidia’s new RTX 3080.
Minecraft 360 Edition
Even though we’ve had Minecraft on PCs ever since its release in the now-distant 2009, the 360 version was an Xbox 360 exclusive. Although it’s not perfect, it’s still among the better-running games on this emulator. It does consume a rather absurd amount of GPU memory for a pixelized game: the lowest we’ve seen it on was 70% and it tends to go up to 85% usage and does experience some lags and slight freezes, the fps is pretty much constantly at 60.
It does also experience some graphic glitches, but is mostly fine – the Vulkan API version seems to struggle the most, though. All in all, as a rather low requirements game, it’s not surprising to see it work consistently.
Gears of War 3
This game doesn’t (and will never) have a PC version, so it’s worth trying out on Xenia. As expected from such a high GPU demanding game, it barely drops below 90% usage, and oftentimes it stays as high as 98%. The frames per second vary from solid 60 during most cinematics and scenes with little to no action, while it drops down to 30 while taking or dishing heavy fire, explosions, and such. This game runs on Unreal Engine 3.5, and it seems that Xenia has been unable to run any games based on it past the starting screen; however, it’s progressed from there to a fully playable game in a little over a year, which is impressive and shows the huge improvements that went into Xenia.
Audio is perfectly synced, the game looks amazing with no screen tearing or major graphic glitches aside from the already mentioned screen freezes, and although it does crash sometimes, it’s still working pretty smoothly. Aside from the third part of the franchise, its two predecessors can also be played through completely.
Kingdom Under Fire: Circle of Doom
This is a 2007 action RPG that maybe isn’t as popular with the general public like the previous three games, and also is, unlike them, available on PC, but it is still one of the better-working games on this emulator. It is fully playable, the graphics look pretty good and smooth for such an old game, and the sound works fine.
Even during fights with multiple enemies, when the screen is heavily cluttered, the CPU usage is hovering at 30%, it runs at about 30 frames per second and the GPU usage stays below 60% for the most part, while during cinematics the GPU usage drops to as low as 30%. Although it is considerably lower than all the other games previously mentioned, it does feel a bit heavy for the graphics quality of the game. Currently, if you want to complete the game, you must do so in one sitting, as the progress can’t be saved due to errors we have yet to see be solved.
Xenia is advancing in strides, growing quite fast, and catching up to some older and more stable emulators pretty quickly. There are more than 150 games currently fully playable on it, including Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead series and The Wolf Among Us, some classics, such as Rayman Origins, Diablo 3, and Sonic the Hedgehog, as well as fighting games, such as Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 Full Burst. If your rig (mainly, your GPU) is strong enough to run Xenia, we encourage you to dig into its archives and try the games out for yourself, who knows what gems you might find!