A Week With the Xbox Series X: Load Times, Game Performance, and More

The Verge’s Tom Warren spent the past week with an Xbox Series X, playing a variety of games on the preview unit, testing load times, performance, and some of the new Series X features. Here’s an excerpt from each section of his report: Load Times: 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. […] None of these games have been fully optimized for the Xbox Series X either. This is simply Microsoft’s backward compatibility support in action. I switched back to my Xbox One X regularly throughout the week, and it was painful to witness these old load times that added a minute or more to games.

Game Performance: Not only do games load faster, but in many cases they also feel a lot smoother. Destiny 2 is a great example of a game that was held back by the weaker CPU and slow HDD in the Xbox One X. It’s a title that hit native 4K previously, but the 6 teraflops of GPU performance in the One X was bottlenecked by a laptop-like CPU and an old spinning hard disk. This meant the game was stuck on 30fps. While Bungie has committed to enhancing Destiny 2 for the Xbox Series X and PS5 with 60fps support, it already feels faster without the patch. I would regularly notice frame rate drops in Destiny 2 on the Xbox One X when things got a little hectic on screen during a public event or in a raid with mobs of enemies coming at you. I haven’t seen a single stutter running Destiny 2 on the Xbox Series X. This console has also improved other parts of Destiny 2 that were slow on the Xbox One. Loading into the character menu sometimes takes a few seconds on the Xbox One X, but on the Series X it feels like I’m playing on my PC as it’s near instant. These are minor improvements, but they’re the small things that add up and make a game more enjoyable to play.

Quick Resume: 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. I even rebooted the Xbox Series X for an update and all of the games still quickly resumed. Most games I tested worked flawlessly with Quick Resume, but some aren’t supported. Titles like Sea of Thieves, that feature a big multiplayer arena, don’t work with the new feature. It makes sense, though, since these games can’t quickly resume a live and evolving environment that changes every second. “What I will say is that the Xbox Series X felt like I was playing on a familiar Xbox that’s a lot faster and more capable,” writes Warren in closing. “The experience of switching back to an Xbox One was genuinely dispiriting.”

“The true next generation of games is still a mystery, but what I’ve seen from backward-compatible games over the past week is encouraging. I’m hoping that game developers will have a lot fewer bottlenecks with both the Xbox Series X and PS5, enabling them to deliver some game improvements we’re only used to seeing over on the PC side.”

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