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Xbox Series X hands-on: the big dive with back compatibility begins

What good is a next-gen console without “new” video games?

That question popped up when I was unpacking an Xbox Series X console in my home office last week, almost two months before it started retailing for $ 499 on November 10. and in my case that was a heavy asterisk on the compatible content. Unlike other console preview options I’ve had in my career, there wasn’t a single new or freshly updated game in this game.

The funny thing is, that’s exactly what I asked for.

Earlier this year, I suggested to Microsoft’s PR team that it would be fun to try the Series X in the suspension phase before its launch, when new and updated games weren’t ready … but the backward compatibility feature was. I came up with this idea after remembering that Xbox boss Phil Spencer had already sneaked into the online lobbies of existing games with his own Series X. He participated in the testing program to back up his numerous proclamations about each generation of Xbox games that will work on (and in) this new device, and in some cases will benefit from Series X benefits.

With this in mind, I made my shot: Could I join this test fight too?

No, unfortunately I did not reach all 1,000 games

The answer I eventually got was, “Sure, we’ll call your bluff.” Today I got the green light to talk about the console’s current backward compatibility testing phase and Microsoft had no control over my testing or takeaways – other than I was limited to 1,000 games on each existing Xbox platform. While the program may include any game that will work on Xbox One consoles, the compatibility list is a little narrower prior to release. 1,000 is a big number, but it still leaves some big Xbox hits from my testing.

Even so, the results so far have been meaningful – and for the most part quite impressive. I wouldn’t dream of recommending a $ 499 game console based solely on how well it handles some of the existing Xbox games. However, backward compatibility is an interesting data point. My reviews are good news for anyone who likes the idea of ​​a single, powerful Xbox that they can put everything under one roof Panzer Dragoon Orta to Playerunknown Battlefields.

Most of the other impressions you could hope for in a “Console Preview” window are off the table for now. If any of your burning questions are missing from this article, it’s because I’m playing nicely at Microsoft’s request, and not because I’m holding back on potentially serious issues. There’s more to come, I promise. At least I do to have got permission to talk about the console’s “industrial design” today. (That means they are discussing what happens when I slide things into the vent holes on the new console.)

Xbox Quick Resume: The drool is now starting

Raw footage from Xbox Quick Resume, tested on Xbox Series X hardware preview

The easiest thing I can test out at this early stage is the “Xbox Quick Resume” feature, a benefit so instantly and obviously impressive that I am confident Microsoft will have this “Series X Preview” phase on it set how much drool it generated.

Remember to jump from one game to the next on any Xbox One console. Click the Start button and while the console deletes the last game from system memory, a title card will advertise everything you are playing and pause the console for 20 to 30 seconds. Then some typical information cards (legal notices, studio logos) appear, which either disguise the required loading times or simply torment you if all you want to do is play a game (come on, Xbox). After all that, you’ll need to tap through the menus, select a backup file, and wait The specific content to load.

If you change your mind and go back to your previous game, you will have to sit on your hands for this game as well. Back and forth, on and on: swapping, loading and even more loading.

Jumping from one game to the next using Xbox Quick Resume typically takes about 8 seconds.

All of that changes on the Xbox Series X. Whenever you’re in a game and switch to the Xbox Start menu or to a brand new game, the game you’re playing goes into a kind of “hibernation” state. This is how Xbox One worked, so you can exit a game and browse menus, friends lists, the Microsoft Store, and other operating system-specific things. But now the Xbox Velocity architecture includes a dedicated portion of NVMe 4.0-rated memory that juggles each gameplay session as a separate virtual machine, regardless of what generation of consoles it was designed for … and for multiple games. not just one. A hibernation game retains everything about the current state of the game as it is stored in active RAM, much like a “memory state” in many popular emulators, to get the game running again when a player re-enters it.

Surprisingly, this happens regardless of whether the game in question is on the console’s built-in NVMe storage (which is required for next-generation content) or on an external USB 3.1 drive (which can be used to save and launch last-generation games) installed. . In my tests, jumping from one game to the next using Xbox Quick Resume typically takes about eight seconds and doesn’t exceed 13 seconds, even if you get yourself a hefty XB1 plan Red Dead Redemption 2 or Border areas 3 from a USB 3.1 drive.

Listing picture by Sam Machkovech

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