We all love a generational shift in video games - it’s exciting to see the benefits and features of new hardware, and the advantage of more power being available to game developers are of course enormous. I’m surprised by my favorite of the new-generation features, though, as it’s hardly something exciting: Quick Resume.
If you rolled your eyes at that, you likely only play on PS5, where the pause-and-resume functionality has considerably less utility - or you're lucky enough to have no outside influences impact your gaming time.
I’m rarely just playing one game at a time - even when Elden Ring was dominating my life I was juggling a play-through of Final Fantasy 12 - and Quick Resume saves ridiculous amounts of time. Also, I’ve welcomed a new baby since the arrival of these consoles, and Quick Resume has proved invaluable in being able to quickly stop and restart what I’m doing when some sort of feeding, pooping, or screaming-related emergency arises.
Back when the Xbox Series X was first released, Sherif wrote about Quick Resume and summed it up pretty well. It's great when it works. A year and a half later, I’m inclined to agree - it’s the best of the new quality-of-life features on these new generation consoles by far, at least with how I tend to use them. There’s a difference, however. Back then, stuff wasn’t working because it was broken. Over a year later, Quick Resume still has problems - but of a different kind.
One element of Quick Resume is just straight up busted - and I can’t really see a path to fixing it. And that’s how it interacts with games that have any sort of major always-online component that aren't designed with a thought spared for the feature.
I’d encountered this problem with a few games before, but it was transferring to Xbox for my fourth Elden Ring play-through that really drove home how frustrating Quick Resume can be when it’s not fully considered or integrated. The problem is basically this: when a game’s state is saved in Quick Resume and then picked up later, the connection with the server is naturally interrupted. Different games handle this in different ways - some more elegant than others.
Elden Ring, for instance, can happily be suspended and then resumed - but when you do, the game will magically pick up right where you left off in like a second… and then boot you to the main menu thanks to a loss of online connection, so you have a chance to log back in. This is almost worse than if Quick Resume didn’t work at all, as it’s a tease - you see the game is ready for you, but then, no, it isn’t. Back to the menu you go. Pain.
I’ve encountered this elsewhere too. A lot of Ubisoft games with always-online hooks frustrate in this way. And, famously, Xbox Exclusive Halo Infinite saw its developers advise players not use Quick Resume initially, so broken was its integration.
This isn’t an insurmountable problem, but it requires developers to think about it and actively address it. No Man’s Sky is always-online, but when it gets resumed the game quietly reconnects to the servers in the background, seamlessly. Doom Eternal will disconnect you from the servers, but you can reconnect without having to head all the way back to the main menu. These things are acceptable. The tease… that’s very frustrating. In those instances, the developers may as well turn Quick Resume off entirely.
But these frustrations can’t dim the magic when it does work. It’s snappy, time-saving, and convenient. Recently I’ve been flipping between Lego Star Wars and GTA5 new-gen, and it just works. Seamless. The other day I wanted to return to Nier Automata and the game automatically resumed a session from about six months ago - which feels like black magic. I love it.
I just wish it’d work properly a bit more often. And if Sony could upgrade its Suspend Mode to work for more than one game and when the console is fully turned off, that'd be great too.