This is going to be a generation of convenience. It's difficult to know how the boundaries of graphical fidelity and game performance are going to expand in the years to come, particularly now, still weeks away from the launch of the Xbox Series X and PS5. But even at this early stage of the next cycle, it has become increasingly clear to me that Microsoft's initial focus is on making it easier than ever before to play the games you want to play, when you want to play them, with as little interruption as possible. No feature speaks to that philosophy more than Xbox Series X Quick Resume.
You've probably heard about this feature in the past and dismissed it out of hand. I know I had. At its most basic, Quick Resume will let you switch seamlessly between multiple games in a suspended state and resume playing instantly from where you last left off. Actually, that's not the feature at its most basic – it's the entirety of it. On paper, Quick Resume doesn't sound all the exciting. In practice, it's as if my worst habits are no longer a hindrance.
Nobody likes a loading screen
The problem is that I am perpetually indecisive. While I have a tendency to play unhealthily long runs of new releases (spoiler free since 2015!), my daily sessions will typically involve as much downtime as they do playtime. Get wiped out in Call of Duty: Warzone and switch over to Netflix. Get bored of a show and switch over to something else. It won't be long before I get the urge to spend a further 20 minutes running through urban decay and decide to switch back over to Warzone. This cycle continues until I fall asleep on the sofa. Why yes, I do have a Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription and a debilitatingly bad back; why do you ask?
The problem with playing games this way is that the Xbox One family of consoles were not built to facilitate it. The fast resume feature was either sparsely supported or barely functioned, meaning you'd often be hit with lengthy loading time between one game and application that you were otherwise expecting to load in an instant. Typically, I'd fill that waiting period by looking at my phone, doom-scrolling Twitter and TikTok until I struggle to summon the energy to continue playing. Quick Resume on Xbox Series X has completely transformed my engagement and energised my attention span.
One of the benefits of the custom SSD, and the system architecture Microsoft has built around it, is the ability to suspend multiple active game sessions and then load between them freely with minimal friction. This means that you could stop playing one game, boot back to the dashboard to have a little root through the store, respond to a message, or check on achievement progress, before then immediately launching back into the experience without skipping a beat. Or perhaps you defeated a particularly tricky boss in a game and want to take a breather, you now have the option to jump straight back into any of your recently played games and pick up exactly where you left off.
It isn't instant, but it's pretty damned fast. In my testing, Quick Resume would often take between six and 15 seconds, depending on what game you were booting into or from (some, like Control and Red Dead Redemption 2, are a little more power hungry than, say, Alan Wake or GTA 4). And remember, this is right back to where you left off playing; replacing the one-two minute load times you'd typically endure booting up a game cold from your library, before then having to load the save once you've gotten through all of the corporate logos. We're talking about minutes of engagement returned to you, and it makes the experience of playing games more convenient and accessible than ever before.
As this is pre-launch hardware – I'm expecting the operating system to receive an update before launch on November 10 – there's a chance that the Quick Resume times and stability could change. The fundamentals won't, however. The SSD is able to achieve all of this because it effectively stores your session as a sort of 'save state' (to use the parlance of the emulation community) in the active RAM. How many of these save states can be held in the background at once? I managed seven before the system started to struggle loading back into where I'd left off, but then only the truly indecisive (see also: me) would ever have that many active games in rotation to begin with.
Quick Resume is the (literal) game changer
As it stands, there isn't currently any way to see which games are currently active within the Quick Resume function. Given that Quick Resume continues to work even after you've turned the Xbox Series X off and back on again, it would be nice to have a reminder of what games are there waiting for you in an instant – kind of like how you can flip through your open tabs in a browser window on your phone, for example. Nothing worse than thinking you'll be able to quickly jump into something only to find a loading screen, as quick as they are on Xbox Series X. Oh, and perhaps this goes without saying, but expect some rocky functionality with multiplayer games – you're likely to get booted out of a server before you can take advantage of the Quick Resume functionality.
Microsoft's internal data indicated that the average player plays between three and four games a month. Quick Resume is a function built in service of that statistic. Given how important Xbox Game Pass has become to the entire ecosystem, it's easy to see how integral something like Quick Resume will become in the years ahead. The ability to quickly jump between the games you're currently enjoying across four generations of Xbox consoles encourages you to spend more time experimenting and less time enduring downtime. For me and my indecisiveness, it makes me feel as if I'm being proactive with my time rather than squandering it. And for that, I thank Xbox Series X Quick Resume endlessly.
GamesRadar+ is exploring the Xbox Series X in detail. Our Xbox Series X design impressions are already live, and you should continue to check back every day for more analysis and opinion of the console.