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Hands-on with Xbox Series X: Quick resume, backwards compatibility and faster load times

The first wave of Xbox Series X features we've been able to try are focused on older games.

Update, Nov. 5: Read our reviews of the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S.

The Xbox Series X is here. Sort of. While we have a final hardware unit of the coming-soon new game console from Microsoft, our hands-on experience to date is with a handful of backwards-looking features and technical improvements to how games load.

That means no impressions -- yet -- of next-gen games running at 4K on the Xbox Series X. Instead we got to try a selection of previously released games running in backwards compatibility mode and got to play with the improved loading times and a new feature called Quick Resume, which is frankly one of the most impressive things we've seen in game hardware in some time. 

Read more: GameSpot's full Xbox Series X coverage 

CNET's Jeff Bakalar and GameSpot's Michael Higham both got to test out these new features on Xbox Series X hardware and spoke about their experiences in the accompanying video.

Now playing: Watch this: Xbox Series X hands-on shows off impressive Quick Resume

"I kinda slept on that a little bit," Jeff says about the Quick Resume feature. "Now, having played a bunch of games with Quick Resume, right now, for me, this is the sort of game-changing feature of Series X."

Read more: How to avoid Xbox Series X and PS5 preorder FOMO  

Michael was impressed with the load times from the new NVMe SSD. "Now [Xbox Series X] has caught up to something gaming PCs have had for a while," he says. "So no more doom-scrolling on the Twitter timeline while you're waiting for a game to load."

Dan Ackerman/CNET

Read more: How the Xbox Series X and Series S fit into the most popular Ikea furniture

Here are Jeff and Mike's main takeaways:

  • 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. 

Additional details of the Xbox Series X are coming, including our impressions of new Series X games and much more about the hardware itself, the operating system and the multimedia features.