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3 Big Takeaways From Xbox Series X Hands-on Previews

Published September 28, 2020 5:07 PM
Thomas Bardwell
Published September 28, 2020 5:07 PM
  • Hands-on Xbox Series X previews are starting to surface.
  • Coverage is limited to backward compatibility, quick resume, and load time impressions.
  • We’ve picked out three big takeaways – quick resume, noise, and load times.

The first hands-on Xbox Series X previews are slowly trickling in from the biggest gaming outlets.

Instead of no holds barred impressions, those lucky enough to have logged time with Microsoft’s next-console are under strict instructions to limit coverage to backward compatibility performance, Quick Resume, and load times. No 4K next-gen launch titles put through their paces here.

Not quite the in-depth next-gen performance analysis we’d expect this close to launch, but there’s still quite a lot we can glean from these early previews.

Here are three big takeaways from the first batch of Xbox Series X hands-on previews.

The first batch of hands-on Xbox Series X previews are here. | Source: Xbox/Microsoft

Xbox Series X Vastly Improves Load Times

As the first console from Microsoft to feature an SSD allied to the new Velocity architecture, load times were always going to be a driving force of this next-gen leap, and, as it stands, the Xbox Series X doesn’t disappoint. The verdict is the same across the board: the Xbox Series X loads games significantly faster than current-gen consoles.

GameSpot, in particular, threw some of the biggest games from the past few years at the Series X, with excellent results. Red Dead Redemption 2 load times were cut from 2 mins 8 seconds to a comparatively swift 38 seconds. Load times in Control shrunk from 58 seconds to 10 seconds.

GameSpot notes :

“The Xbox Series X cuts down on initial load times by 70-80% of the time it takes for the Xbox One X. This advantage extends to booting up games from the Xbox dashboard and also reloading saves. And the improvement we’re seeing here is for existing games that weren’t built with the tech in mind, but are simply taking advantage of the faster drive speeds. It’s a snappy overall experience, similar to my PC with an NVMe SSD, which means you’ll be spending less time waiting and more time gaming.”

Ars Technica echoes the verdict :

“Red Dead Redemption 2 is generally demanding in terms of loading times across all platforms, so it’s telling to see Series X cut its cold-boot loading time by a whopping 57 percent. Recent platforming game Ori & The Will of the Wisps shaves its loading process even further to a 66-percent reduction—but from the look of how the game hops from one screen to the next on Series X, I could easily imagine a patch that wipes away the existing intro screens and delivers a bleeding-edge loading time. And the Borderlands 3 jump from XB1X to Series X is a staggering 73.5 percent—which, I should clarify, comes before its developers at Gearbox release the game’s free “next-gen” patch later this year.”

The Verge adds :

“The most significant and obvious improvement with existing games on the Xbox Series X is the massive changes to load times. I noticed load times drop in pretty much every single game I’ve tested over the past week. Games like Sea of Thieves, Warframe, and Destiny 2 have their load times cut by up to a minute or more on the Series X.”

The Sound of Silence

The noise produced by the physical console is always a concern, especially from the machine touted by Microsoft as the most powerful console ever.

The Series X is quiet, very much so. Naturally, we need to consider the context, chiefly that testers only ran backward compatible titles. The reality may be different once players genuinely push the console with hardware-sapping next-gen titles. Nevertheless, it’s encouraging news especially for those migrating form the notoriously noisy PS4.

IGN says :

“More importantly, this thing is quiet. It’s almost inaudible when it’s idle, and in Red Dead Redemption 2, for instance, it’s still pretty quiet – much more so than the Xbox One X, which gets noticeably louder under full GPU load. We’ll see how its acoustics are when I’ve got new games to put all 12 teraflops to use.”

Ars Technica agrees:

“Series X, so far, is the quietest Xbox I’ve ever tested. Back-compat software runs the Series X to a high enough level to activate the fans and unleash noticeable heat dissipation, but I can barely hear it, even while spending hours in current-gen, open-world romps like Destiny 2 and Red Dead Redemption 2.”

Quick Resume Is a Game-Changer

We’ve heard an awful lot about the Series X/S’ Quick Resume feature to the point that it’s become a given for many. Yet, the previews reveal just how impressive Quick Resume is, especially when coupled with the drastically improved load times.

The Series X promises to do away with tedious loading screens and moments of limbo, for more time with the games themselves.

Quick Resume is rather fittingly a game-changer. | Source: IGN/YouTube 

GameSpot puts it as follows:

“Swapping between games takes about five to eight seconds, meaning you’ll be right where you paused each game in a fraction of the time it would take to relaunch an entire game and without needing to reload a save. Game states even persist after powering the console off. In conjunction with Game Pass, where I’m often jumping between multiple games I have downloaded anyway, Quick Resume truly shines.
With Quick Resume, Xbox Series X showcases some genuinely innovative next-gen tech we don’t even see on gaming PCs. It’s kind of a game-changer, literally.”

Ars Technica says:

“Xbox Series X has encapsulated my every gameplay session in a block of ice, so that whenever I return, neither my cars, my warriors, nor my cartoon mascots have any idea I abandoned them.”

Backed by The Verge:

“The Xbox One had a fast resume feature to let you swap between games, but it felt like it never really worked properly or games didn’t support it. It couldn’t be more different on the Xbox Series X. Quick Resume utilizes the SSD inside the Series X to let you swap between multiple games freely. It takes around five seconds to resume games where you left off, and I was able to switch between five games easily.”

More previews are reportedly on the way in the weeks ahead and will focus on next-gen titles and general impressions of the console. As it stands, the Series X is living up to all the hype conjured up by Microsoft’s marketing arm.