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Xbox Series X preview roundup: how good is the next Xbox, really?

Xbox Series X with Dolby Vision and Atmos
(Image credit: Dolby)

What are people making of the Xbox Series X? With a handful of next-gen Xbox consoles out in the wild for review, first impressions of the hardware have started to trickle in, which is why we’ve rounded up the opinions we’ve spotted so far.

While we’ve known about the existence of the Xbox Series X for many months – and had a good sense of its capabilities for a little while now – all the specs lists in the world can’t compete with a real hands-on play session. That’s what’s going to make or break the console in a reviewer’s eyes: how does it feel, how smooth is the gameplay, how quick are these loading times after all?

No-one’s getting to play next-gen games yet – and technically these impressions are from ‘prototype’ hardware – but a selection of Xbox One games are allowing reviewers to see the difference the Xbox Series X’s power can bring.

Load times seem to be a big focus in the previews, for one – and for good reason. While some games only shave off a few seconds here and there, others are able to load up in a fraction of the time they would on the Xbox One X. The Verge reported that Assassin's Creed Odyssey loaded up twice as fast on the newer hardware, while The Outer Worlds loaded up in a mere six seconds.

Generally, then, the news seems to be good, and you can read the key takeaways in the article below, with links out to the full previews if you’re hungry to find out more.

The Verge: load times to die for

“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.

In Destiny 2, for example, I can now load into a planet in the game in around 30 seconds, compared to over a minute later on an Xbox One X and nearly two minutes in total on a standard Xbox One. These improved load times are identical to my custom-built PC that includes a fast NVMe SSD, and they genuinely transform how you play the game – you can get more quests and tasks done instead of sitting and looking at a planet loading.”

Read more at The Verge

Xbox Series X pre-orders price deals

(Image credit: Microsoft)

GameSpot: the beauty of Quick Resume

“Related to the new tech and Velocity architecture: Quick Resume. It's the all-new Series X and Series S feature that lets you suspend the state of your current game to go into another one (and another one, and another one), all without shutting down or rebooting any of those games. In practice, Quick Resume works just by hitting the Xbox home button and switching over to a different game – there's no deliberate option or step you need to take to actually use the feature.

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.”

Read more at GameSpot

Eurogamer: improvements across the board

"Iterative improvements will be the order of the day for many games though - at least in the short term. Titles that hit their performance targets on Xbox One and One X will continue to do on Series X, so looking at the classic Rise of the Tomb Raider, its 4K quality mode still caps to 30fps, you just get a lot to that performance target. Doom Eternal runs beautifully already, but the Series X GPU will max out its dynamic resolution scaler. Modern Warfare 2019? The performance issues seen on Xbox One X are gone and with the surfeit of GPU compute on offer, expect dynamic resolution to maxed. All of which perhaps makes my task more challenging – as I was looking to get a quantifiable measure of just how much more power Series X gives library titles.

We should take the results seen here for what they are - a gigantic level of additional horsepower being delivered to our existing library of games, with often transformative effects. So, the mythical 60 frames per second lock on Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice still isn't quite achievable, but it's still the best way to play the game on console bar none – and the 50-60fps playback says to me that this could be a game that really stands to benefit from support on variable refresh rate displays, something I'm really looking forward to testing."

Read more at Eurogamer

Xbox Series X vs Xbox Series S price

Left to right: Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S (Image credit: Microsoft)

IGN: quiet and quick

"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... It also boots up from an always-on state almost instantly, and obviously faster than Xbox One X. Cold boot, too, is also a lot quicker than the One X, taking about 10-12 seconds compared to almost a minute for the One X."

Read more at IGN

VentureBeat: Microsoft’s best gamepad

"This is Microsoft’s best-feeling gamepad ever, outside the Elite controllers. This is for multiple reasons, such as high-quality materials that have a really nice grip. The button action feels more bubbly and responsive than ever. The sticks are smooth, and the shoulder bumpers require only the slightest effort to activate.

But the biggest improvement is to the heft. I don’t think this controller is that much heavier than the most recent Xbox controller revision. The difference is in the weight distribution. Microsoft put all of the mass into the grips of the controller, and it feels wonderful.

This new gamepad forces itself into your grip like it has its own gravitational pull. And it’s this kind of refinement that makes me happy that Microsoft isn’t throwing out a design that already works so well."

Read more at VentureBeat

The new Xbox controller for Xbox Series X

The new Xbox controller for Xbox Series X (Image credit: Xbox)

CNET: a smooth operator

  • "The console has run nearly silently so far, although these older games aren't exactly taxing the hardware. 
  • Loading times are much faster than the Xbox One X (Microsoft's high-end version of the Xbox One). That includes both initial boot-up, loading saves and transitioning between sections of a game. 
  • In an unscientific test, loading a Red Dead Redemption 2 save took around two minutes on an Xbox One X and about 30 seconds on the Xbox Series X. 
  • Quick Resume feels like a game-changer. You can jump between games in about 10 seconds and Mike had four different games running at once. Games resume in the exact state you left them in, no reloading saves or returning to menu screens required. 
  • The new controller is very similar, but benefits from a better grip surface on the back, an 8-way d-pad, and is a tiny bit smaller. And, it's got a USB-C port."

Read more on CNET