A housekeeping note up front: As part of an ongoing look at the Xbox Series X, this article (as well as the above video) will cover general impressions of the box itself and the controller, along with the performance of backwards compatible Xbox One and Xbox 360 games and the Quick Resume feature that lets you quickly jump from one active game to another. I’ll be covering new and Series X optimized games and overall impressions of the Xbox Series X in the coming few weeks.
First a word on the console itself: It is hefty, but in a good way. When you hold it, it feels like a premium, $500 thing, for whatever that’s worth. When you turn it on, the box makes the same startup chime the Xbox One family of consoles do, and I’m a bit disappointed in that, honestly. I get the consistency, but I’d have liked a new sound. While I’m speaking subjectively, I think the Series X also looks very nice in its vertical orientation. It looks bold and assertive in your entertainment center, with the concave, green-tinted vent perforations on the top adding a really nice visual appeal. I can’t say the same when it’s laying on its side; it looks more like a fireplace log.
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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.
The new controller, meanwhile, is a slight improvement over the stock Xbox One controller – I like the new D-pad and the grip texture on the back handles and triggers – but it still pales in comparison to the Elite version 2 controller. Which, of course, it should for how much the Elite costs. Thankfully, the Elite v2, just like every other Xbox One accessory that doesn’t have the word Kinect in it, works just fine on Series X.
Let’s talk about storage next. It’s no secret that game installation sizes are only getting larger, and monthly ISP bandwidth caps are a concern for many gamers (in fact, I blew up mine for the first time ever while downloading a ton of games to test out on the Series X), so you’ll need to use your 1 terabyte wisely. To be clear, it’s 802 gigabytes of usable space, after OS and system files. When you plug in the very pricey Seagate 1 terabyte storage expansion slot that gives you all of the benefits of the internal drive, it adds 920 gigabytes of usable capacity. A more affordable alternative is to use a cheaper USB 3.1 external hard drive to store the next-gen games you’re not playing and just shuttle them back and forth as you want them, sparing yourself the need to download them every single time. Besides, transferring between the Xbox Series X’s NVME SSD and a USB 3.1 drive is pretty quick.
Yes, you can play backwards compatible games off of an external drive, but you’re going to want to run them from the internal SSD, because the loading time advantages are significant. I ran tests with Red Dead Redemption 2, Halo 5, Control, State of Decay 2, as well as Xbox 360 games Grand Theft Auto 4 and Fallout 4. The results varied from better to a lot better. Newer, more performance intensive games like Red Dead 2 and Control saw the most benefit, but every test I ran yielded a noticeable advantage. Furthermore, I tried out Quick Resume, and Microsoft wasn’t kidding around. It works! I like that they even put a little “Quick Resume” icon in the upper right corner of the screen to let you know that you won’t have to wait for the entire game to load from scratch.
In conclusion, though I’m still waiting to play a proper next-gen game that takes full advantage of the Xbox Series X (stay tuned for coverage on that), it’s clear that your back catalog will get a boost from the new console regardless of whether or not your favorite game has received any specific Series X optimizations. In fact, the SSD spoils you pretty quickly. I already never want to see my Xbox One X ever again.
Ryan McCaffrey is IGN’s Executive Editor of Previews. Follow him on Twitter at @DMC_Ryan, catch him on Unlocked, and drop-ship him Taylor Ham sandwiches from New Jersey whenever possible.
Source: IGN Video Games All