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Xbox One update makes it faster to start games as they download

FastStart is here for almost two dozen games across the Xbox library

The Flame in the Flood - boat approaching Weavers Homestead
The Flame in the Flood, one of the first games to support FastStart on Xbox One.
The Molasses Flood
Samit Sarkar (he/him) is Polygon’s deputy managing editor. He has more than 15 years of experience covering video games, movies, television, and technology.

The latest Xbox One system update began rolling out Thursday, and it brings a host of new features to the console, chief among them the ability to get into games more quickly.

FastStart, which Microsoft announced during its E3 2018 press briefing, lets players jump into a game after downloading a small portion of it. Here’s how the company described the feature in an Xbox Wire article: “FastStart works by identifying which files are needed to begin playing and prioritizes the download of those files first, enabling you to quickly jump into full-fidelity gameplay while the remainder of your title downloads in the background.”

If that sounds familiar, it may be because both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 launched with the ability to start playing games while they were being downloaded or installed. Sony refers to the feature as “play as you download,” while Microsoft calls it “ready to start.” However, Microsoft clarified in an FAQ that FastStart is different from “ready to start” because the latter option “requires publisher work,” whereas the former does not. The company also noted that “ready to start” varies from game to game — in some cases, players only see a menu or loading screen while the rest of the download continues, which barely counts as starting to play.

On the other hand, FastStart will make it possible to start playing in half the time compared to waiting for the download to finish, according to Microsoft. (That’s an average improvement across all games that support the feature.) To be clear, FastStart doesn’t actually increase your download speed; it just makes it so your console downloads the files you need to get started before it downloads the rest of the game. Microsoft recommends a minimum downstream bandwidth of 20 Mbps for optimal FastStart performance.

At the moment, 23 games support FastStart: 17 on the Xbox One, three on the Xbox 360 and three on the original Xbox. You can see the full list below. Microsoft noted that FastStart currently works only with English-language versions of the games in question.

Xbox One games

  • Arcade Game Series: Pac-Man
  • Devil May Cry HD Collection
  • Don Bradman Cricket 17
  • Don’t Starve Together: Console Edition
  • Game of Thrones - Episode 1: Iron from Ice
  • Magic Duels
  • Minecraft: Story Mode - Season Two - Episode 1
  • Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm
  • Neverwinter
  • Pac-Man Championship Edition 2
  • Rivals of Aether
  • ScreamRide
  • Tales from the Borderlands - Episode 1: Zer0 Sum
  • The Flame in the Flood
  • The Walking Dead: The Complete First Season
  • Tropico 5 - Penultimate Edition
  • Ys Origin

Xbox 360 games

  • Dead Space 2
  • Toy Story 3
  • Viva Piñata

Original Xbox games

  • Destroy All Humans!
  • Fuzion Frenzy
  • Sid Meier’s Pirates!

The rest of July’s Xbox update contains relatively minor additions, although many players will surely appreciate them. One is an expansion of the Pins section called Groups, which allows users to organize their games and apps into custom categories, and add them to their console’s dashboard. (For people who use multiple Xbox One consoles, Groups will sync across all of them.) Another helpful addition is a search shortcut: Users can now press the Y button anywhere on the Xbox One dashboard to start searching for content.

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