Microsoft has put a lot into making the Xbox Series X (and Series S) backwards compatible with older Xbox consoles. But there’s one key feature you probably didn’t know it had: The Series X can connect to the original Xbox via system link.
While it’s certainly no Xbox Live, it means that you could, if you wanted to, set up your own LAN party to play some classic Xbox games.
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It’s not the kind of thing you’d really expect from the latest Xbox, but as Modern Vintage Gamer (opens in new tab) found on YouTube, the Xbox Series X and Series S does still support that classic feature. What’s more, since the Xbox One and Xbox 360 all feature levels of backwards compatibility, you can hook up all four consoles and play together.
LAN parties were crucial in the days before online gaming, because it was the only way to play multiplayer games with large groups of people. Even though it was built for Xbox Live, the original Xbox still has this feature for titles that didn’t support online play, or for people who didn’t have the internet connection to handle it. This was 2001, after all, and high-speed internet wasn’t as accessible as it is now.
The most notable Xbox title to support system link was Halo: Combat Evolved, which let 16 players all group together and play across four different consoles. That cemented Halo’s reputation as a multiplayer shooter, which continues to this day.
System link also lasted longer than you might have expected. While Xbox Live did launch in 2002, the local option continued throughout the Xbox’s lifespan and was available as recently as 2006 with the launch of Call of Duty 3. Considering the Xbox 360 had launched a year earlier, with greater Xbox Live integration, we’d say system link had a very good run.
But since it didn’t really go anywhere, you could always dust off your classic Xbox consoles and hook them up to see it in action for yourself. Though maybe don’t host your own LAN party until COVID is firmly behind us.