Among all of the next-gen features touted for the Xbox Series X (and S), few are more promising than Quick Resume. On paper, Quick Resume grants you the ability to juggle several games in a suspended state at a system level, at which point you can load them in seconds, picking up exactly where you left off. It is—and I sincerely apologize if you’ve heard this pun before—a potential game-changer.
The idea of a flawlessly functional Quick Resume sure sounds utopian. In reality, while not quite utopian, Quick Resume is pretty cool. There are just some wrinkles to be mindful of.
A round of previews from earlier in the fall revealed that Quick Resume could sustain five or so game states at any given time. I’ve largely found that to be the case. Switching between five games—Assassin’s Creed, Tell Me Why, Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, and Wizard of Legend—all in one session has proved no issue. There seems to be a time limit, though. When I tried to jump back into Tell Me Why days after I last played it, I had to reopen the game from scratch. Thank the coding gods for autosave!
That said, don’t count on Quick Resume to balance your entire library at once. Juggling six games or more seems to cause the feature to sputter out, though not in any notable way. It’s more that, without warning or a heads up of any sort, some games just need to go through the entire startup phase the next time you open them up. (I’ve found that larger games tend to get dropped first.)
There’s another caveat. As noted in our review of Microsoft’s new machines, Quick Resume is still a work in progress and has been partially deactivated as launch day looms. Microsoft informed us on Wednesday that they’d discovered an issue with some games that are receiving next-gen upgrades; as a result, Quick Resume support has been temporarily turned off for those games. Sure enough, we’re now seeing it work with fewer games. Kotaku editor-in-chief Stephen Totilo has been testing it out on the Series S. It works just fine for some games (Batman Arkham Knight, the new Assassin’s Creed, the awesome Tony Hawk remasters) but not at all for others (Gears 5, Forza Horizon 4). Oddly, just last night, I was able to use Quick Resume to swap to both of those games on my Series X—but earlier in the week, I wasn’t able to do so with Forza Horizon 4. Things are clearly in flux. Microsoft PR tells us that a system update timed to launch day should address some of this, but that games will also need individual updates, and it sounds like those updates will be coming after launch. We don’t know the timeframe.
Quick Resume functions automatically in the background. You don’t have to toggle it on in the settings or otherwise dig through an arcane web of menus to activate it. It just sort of happens—or doesn’t happen.
Microsoft has not bothered to make it obvious if a game supports Quick Resume, perhaps because they just assumed it’d be available for the vast majority of games. From what we can tell, you’ll figure out which ones work by simply trying to use Quick Resume with them. After you’ve started a game and try switching to it with Quick Resume, you’ll see a badge on the upper right as the game loads in (takes maybe nine seconds). The badge even has a neat little “play” symbol, to really drive the point home:
You sort of have to play a memory game in your head about which games do and don’t support the feature. (You’ll pick it up quickly.) As far as I can tell, there’s no tidy menu on the Xbox UI that shows you which games your system is currently juggling with Quick Resume. You can still switch between games on the fly by using the universal Xbox menu—just like you can with the Xbox One—but you’ll get taken back to the title screen of any game that doesn’t work with Quick Resume. Remember that before trying to bounce between games with abandon. And make sure to manually save often!
With some games, Quick Resume straight-up doesn’t work. For example: Whenever I’ve tried to switch to Cake Bash—an awesome free-for-all party game that’s more or less a Mario Party mini-game compendium on a sugar rush—I’ve had to go through all of the startup screens each time. At the moment, the same thing is true for Destiny 2 and The Outer Worlds.
Keep in mind that all of this testing was conducted during a pre-release window. Microsoft says some games that don’t support Quick Resume will add functionality for the feature after launch. (We’ve reached out for a full list of games that currently do not and will not work with Quick Resume but, at press time, Microsoft did not provide one.)
Trying to make use of Quick Resume during a multiplayer game might be a little weird. How many people are really planning on dipping out of a round of Halo to, say, repaint a car in Forza Horizon 4 before jumping back in the fray? Still, the point remains: If you try to switch games during a Halo 4 match, expect a one-way trip to the lobby.
Destiny 2, a multiplayer game that requires constant connectivity but is often enjoyed as a single-player, player-vs.-environment experience, is even more strict. Even when I’ve just been hovering in orbit—and not standing on any shared world alongside other players—I’ve been sent right back to the title screen. Solo Guardians, take note.
When Microsoft first made the Series X available to press, during those early fall previews, you might have heard word that Quick Resume works even if the console is cut off from power. In my experience, I’ve found that to be the case—to a point.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve left my Series X unplugged for a half an hour (or more) on multiple occasions. Each time I’ve returned to a once-dormant Xbox Series X, Halo: The Master Chief Collection has had to start up fresh. With other games, though, it’s seamless—and doesn’t even spur longer load times. One of the games I was testing took about 8.1 seconds to switch to with Quick Resume. Following a period of total power-off, that actually dipped to 7.5 seconds. For Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2, those figures were 8.4 and 8.2. With Wizard of Legend, the best cooperative roguelike, they were 5.2 and 4.9.
As with the multiplayer thing, the use case here isn’t enormous. But as a failsafe against unpredictable circumstances—say, power outages, chew-happy pets, or children who have a penchant for unplugging random cables—it’s nice to have.
That, at the end of the day, is the selling point of Quick Resume. It won’t change your life in some immediately obvious way. But then you’ll pivot from busting heads in Assassin’s Creed to busting heads in Gears 5. You’ll realize how little time you spent sitting there, waiting for your game to load. And then it’ll become apparent that Quick Resume is one of those features you never knew you wanted, and one that, when it works, works exactly as intended: a small thing that allows you to spend your entire time playing games actually playing games. Unless you try to bounce between seven games at once.