Fitting seamlessly into 2020's holiday shopping season, Microsoft has announced their future release of their next generation of the Xbox gaming console, which has been officially named as the Xbox Series X. Here is everything you need to know about the next Xbox.
Both Sony and Microsoft have been working feverishly to bring about the next generation of gaming consoles. Both the PS4 and the Xbox One of the current generation have sold well but the graphics development and innovations of upcoming game releases mean that these consoles will have significant hardware upgrades to give the games the showcasing they deserve.
Microsoft has been dropping quite a few hints about the the future Xbox during the year and in conjunction with the 2019 Game Awards, they decided to unveil the surprise news about its release in full. The console has officially been named as the Xbox Series X, which was previously known under the moniker Project Scarlett. Now the Xbox Series X has been unveiled with a pretty dreamy trailer for the world to see.
For a more concrete example of the console's graphic display capabilities, look no further than the new trailer for Hellblade II, which is a launch title for the console. All the material within the trailer has been made with in-game gameplay and cut-scene footage in real-time, which is beautifully clear and impressive on the eyes.
The design is fairly unorthodox for a game console, evoking a bit more of a PC aesthetic than that of a game console. The Xbox Series X is designed to run placed vertically or horizontally, so you don't worry about having to rebuild the TV stand.
Well what's on the inside then? Allow us to geek out a bit and compare it with the Xbox One and One X which are currently on the market.
What does the above listed gamer-jargon above mean in a strictly practical sense then? In addition to support for 8K resolutions (which is only available in a few TV models today), according to Microsoft's Gaming executive Phil Spencer, the Series X should be eight times more powerful than the Xbox One and twice as powerful as the Xbox One X.
In terms of raw numbers, the Xbox Series x has a graphics capacity of 12 teraflops. The graphics card will even have hardware support for DirectX ray tracing and variable rate shading (VRS). There'll also be support for 120 frames per second. It's unclear if this applies to 8K resolutions, 4K or "regular" 1080p resolutions or only a select few at this stage. The graphics are enabled by the console's support for HDMI 2.1, which is fast enough to handle the technical load of these speeds and resolutions with the help of some other technologies like Variable Refresh Rates (VRR) and Auto Low-Latency Mode (ALLM).
Full specifications for the Xbox Series X released in March on Microsofts website:
CPU 8x Cores @ 3.8 GHz (3.6 GHz w/ SMT) Custom Zen 2 CPU
GPU 12 TFLOPS, 52 CUs @ 1.825 GHz Custom RDNA 2 GPU
Die Size 360.45 mm2
Process 7nm Enhanced
Memory 16 GB GDDR6 w/ 320b bus
Memory Bandwidth 10GB @ 560 GB/s, 6GB @ 336 GB/s
Internal Storage 1 TB Custom NVME SSD
I/O Throughput 2.4 GB/s (Raw), 4.8 GB/s (Compressed, with custom hardware decompression block)
Expandable Storage 1 TB Expansion Card (matches internal storage exactly)
External Storage USB 3.2 External HDD Support
Optical Drive 4K UHD Blu-Ray Drive
Performance Target 4K @ 60 FPS, Up to 120 FPS
There's simply a lot of power to take in for beautiful gaming experiences in large open-world settings.
Microsoft has has also been mentioning that the console is "designed for a future in the cloud". Even if there isn't any concrete info yet on what exactly that means, it's likely going to mean wider selection in both games streamed to the console and playing Xbox games on other platforms, like PCs.
Another function that at least some games will have built-in to them is Quick Resume. This mean you can pause a game and do something else with the console and return to where you left off, with the console having saved your activity in game memory to let you seamlessly continue gaming. This virtually eliminates the need to restart the game, as is often the case today.
When it comes to older games, the Xbox Series X has full backwards compatibility support for Xbox One and Xbox 360 games. This has long been a bit of hook for the Xbox that Playstation has had a hard time keeping up with.
While the console itself looks quite different at first glance, it can seem that the controller is identical to its predecessor. Externally, the Xbox Series X controller retains much of the design from the Xbox one, but with the addition of a dedicated sharing button.
A closer comparison of the controllers reveals the Series X controller is marginally smaller than the Xbox One's version, but generally speaking they are so similar that you can use the Series X controller for your PC as well as your Xbox One. Whether or not Xbox One controllers can be used with the Xbox Series X remains to be seen.
Both the Xbox One and Playstation 4 have been released in several variants during this console generation. Some have been slimmer versions (The Xbox One S, PS4 Slim) and others have been more powerful than the originals (Xbox One X, PS4 Pro).
It stands to reason that we'll also see several variants of the Xbox Seires X, even if it isn't something explicitly mentioned at this stage. The choice of name for this console also makes it easier for Microsoft to release more variations and simply swap out the last letter in the name.
There's no official information yet pointing towards the new Xbox having virtual reality (VR) support. Phil Spencer, Microsoft's Gaming executive has said himself in an interview that virtual reality isn't on their radar because "it's not something people are asking for".
Considering the console will be released to meet the 2020 holiday season, it's likely the release window will be somewhere between September and November.
There's no official price at the moment, but experts believe the console will cost somewhere in the range of £300 - £500. This is based in part on the hardware that Microsoft has announced will be in the new Xbox, along with the fact from a business perspective they've officially stated that it's pricing will be based partially on production costs and competitor prices.
Yes, Microsoft has promised that the console will have backwards compatibility. This includes games for the Xbox 360 och Xbox One, as well as accessories like headsets for the Xbox One.
Microsoft has announced that a remastered version of Gears 5 will be available for the Xbox Series X's release. If you already own a copy of Gears 5 for the Xbox one, you'll ge the new version for the Series X for free.
343 Industries has shown the new Halo Infinite that will be released on the Xbox Series X. Even Battlefiled 6 will be released on the console along with other confirmed titles like Gods and Monsters, Rainbow Six Quarantine and Watchdogs: Legion. The aforementioned Hellblade II from Ninja Theory is also one of the release titles for the console.
We'll likely see more titles being announced throughout the course of the year, especially when E3 takes place.
That said, we reiterate that the console will have backwards compatibility, so you can also play your older games as well.
Everything Microsoft has presented thus far seems really awesome. However, in the same breath there were some weak-point with the Xbox One that we hope will be rectified with the new console.
Controllers - Xbox controllers perform well gaming-wise but when it comes to other things like accessories and the batteries, they underperform quite noticeably. That's why we hope that the Xbox Series X comes with Bluetooth support so you can, for example, connect any headset you want without having to worry about adapters, cables and more. Re-chargeable battery packs in the controller itself would also be a plus considering how often you have to change batteries.
The Menu - One of the most annoying aspects of Xbox One is the menu system. When creating interfaces (in general), you often aim to use as few clicks as possible to achieve the desired functionality. Microsoft seems to have missed out with this in the Xbox One. It is extremely cumbersome to access important features, apps, games and settings despite the shortcut menus and grouping systems.
Xbox One also contains a whole lot of candy for us who like to play multiplayer games or are just generally social.
Mixer as its own menu, for example, is fantastic as an idea, but the arrangement therein leaves much to be desired. It's easy to find what the Xbox wants you to see, but it's hard to detect and explore on your own if you don't have a great deal of patience. Likewise, groups (finding others to play with) are really good in theory, but poorly adapted for the console world. Here there is much to improve to highlight otherwise stellar functionality.
Achievements - Please, please let these badges of trial and honour get a more prominent placement in the Xbox Series X. Pride medals get a more prominent place in the Xbox Series X. Think of all of us who have been dedicated since the Xbox 360 era and want to be able to boast to others a bit about how awesome we are!
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