Xbox Series X first look: Fast, powerful and quiet



That said, the Series X has a few features that deserve extra attention before launch day on November 10th. The Series X is priced at $499, while its all-digital counterpart, the Xbox Series S, will cost $299.

Before diving in too deep, let’s lay the ground rules. There are limitations on the scope of the initial preview, with specific features we’re allowed to discuss. Fortunately, this round covers the console’s most obvious improvements: the performance of the backward compatible library, the quick resume feature and the look and feel of the hardware itself, including the new Xbox Wireless Controller.

First up, backward compatible games on Xbox Series X.

A screenshot of a game running on Xbox Series X.


Back compat 

On day one, both of Microsoft’s next-gen consoles will support more than 500 games from the original Xbox, Xbox 360 and Xbox One. On Series X, all backward compatible games receive automatic HDR support, and some will even play at double their original framerates, bumping 30FPS titles to 60FPS, and 60FPS to 120FPS. This library will run natively on the console, meaning each game can take advantage of the Series X’s faster CPU, GPU and SSD, and even hit 4K. 

Series S games will receive similar treatment, though they’re upgraded from their Xbox One S versions, meaning they won’t be playable in 4K.

Resolution aside, players on both consoles will have immediate access to a library 19 years deep. Alongside selling Game Pass Ultimate subscriptions, this is a huge part of Microsoft’s pitch for the next generation: the fact that the Series X will have plenty of content at launch, and these titles will perform better than ever. 

Meanwhile, Microsoft’s main console competitor, Sony, hasn’t outlined how backward compatibility will work on the PlayStation 5. Many PS4 games will be playable on PS5, but it’s still unclear which ones, how they’ll take advantage of the new hardware, or if they’ll be accessible outside of a PlayStation Plus subscription. There’s no word on games from before the PS4 era, either.

On Xbox Series X, Microsoft’s commitment to spit-shining its old and classic games has resulted in one massive improvement: Faster load times.

A screenshot of a game running on Xbox Series X.


In my experience, backward compatible games on Xbox Series X load three to four times faster than their Xbox One counterparts. Take Remedy’s Control, for example — booting up a scene on Xbox One takes 30 to 38 seconds, while the same scene on Series X consistently takes just 9 seconds, 10 at the most. This ratio rings true for most games I’ve tested, and it’s significantly changed the way I interact with the new console overall.

Whenever I die or fast travel in most console-bound AAA games, I automatically drop the controller while waiting for the new scene to load, knowing it’ll take enough time to give my fingers a break. Or I’ll grab a fresh drink, or reach for my phone and scroll through Reddit while the loading bar creeps across the bottom of the screen.

With Series X, there’s no time for this nonsense. When a fail state pops up, my hands will instinctually fall to my lap, but almost immediately, the game is ready for another round. I’ve had to become more proactive with my drink breaks.

Not only are Series X backward compatible games faster to load, but many of them take advantage of another speedy new console function — quick resume.


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