2/24 Update: Added details about ray tracing, teraflops, “Quick Resume,” and “Smart Delivery.”
At The Game Awards 2019, Microsoft’s next-gen console finally earned its official name: The Xbox Series X. Initially revealed at the E3 2019 press conference as Project Scarlett, specifics about the console have been scarce. Microsoft has given us some concrete details to focus on, however, including some specs, a release window, a major launch title, and more.
Xbox Series X Price: How Much Will it Cost?
There’s been no official word from Microsoft on how much the Xbox Series X will cost. However, we estimate it could cost between $450-600 based on the hardware alone.
Xbox Series X Release Date: When Does it Come Out?
During Microsoft’s E3 2019 press conference, the company revealed the Xbox Series X is set to launch in Holiday 2020.
This partially lines up with previous reports that suggested “multiple pieces of hardware” would be released in 2020, and another report that specifically said Xbox’s Project Scarlett would be released by Holiday 2020.
With E3 2020 just a few months away, some are hoping that we will be given some news on the Xbox Series X release date. Earlier this year, Sony announced that it would not be attending the show, but Microsoft has confirmed that the Xbox team is “hard at work on E3” prep.
With Sony absent, Phil Spencer and his team will definitely be the main focus of the show, however, it remains to be seen if that means we hear any announcements about an Xbox Series X release date or price.
Xbox Series X Specs: What Hardware Does it Have?
As part of the initial Project Scarlett announcement video, those involved in the creation of the new console said it will be four times more powerful than the Xbox One X, which is capable of 8K output, 120 frames per second, variable refresh rates and real-time “next-gen ray tracing.”
Spencer later clarified that the Xbox Series X would feature DirectX raytracing, which will allow for more realistic environments, with “accurate reflections and realistic acoustics.”
A new generation SSD is being used as virtual RAM, allegedly offering over 40 times performance increases from the current generation. Xbox Series X will also leverage high-bandwidth GDDR 6 SDRAM.
AMD and Microsoft co-engineered and designed a custom processor for the Xbox Series X. This processor leverages AMD’s latest Zen 2 and Navi technology. It was clear before E3 2019 that AMD would be designing the next Xbox’s processor, as Spencer briefly discussed a partnership with AMD during a keynote address at CES 2019. Spencer teased the new Xbox Series X processor on Twitter earlier this year when he changed his profile picture to an image of the chip. The new processor, which looks very similar to that of the Xbox One X reads “8K” and “Project Scarlett.”
The same team that worked on the Xbox One X is working on the Xbox Series X and they are prioritizing reduced load times. Xbox head Phil Spencer is a longtime advocate for framerate over resolution, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Xbox Series X team is paying close attention to better framerates.
In February 2020, Phil Spencer posted on the Xbox blog, detailing some features coming to the Xbox Series X. A “Quick Resume” feature will allow players to load “suspended state” games almost instantly and let you quickly navigate through multiple games without having to endure enormous load times.
It was also confirmed that the Xbox Series X will have 12 teraflops of GPU power, which is four times more than the Xbox One and twice as much as the Xbox One X. For those not familiar with the term, a teraflop is a measure of how many complex calculations a machine can handle every second. Essentially, it allows for higher-quality graphical output.
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At EA’s Q3 2020 investors call, CFO Blake Jorgensen told investors that the power behind the new generation of consoles would “blow people’s mind.”
“The power of the new consoles is gonna be substantially greater than existing consoles,” said Jorgensen during the call. “We can do a lot more [with PS5 and Xbox Series X]. Things we’re doing will blow people’s minds.”
It sounds like Microsoft’s next-gen console is going to be pretty powerful. We actually broke down how the Xbox Series X compares to PCs.
Xbox Series X Design and Images: What Does it Look Like?
At The Game Awards 2019, we were given our first look at the Xbox Series X. Standing vertically in what looks to be a matte black finish, Microsoft’s fourth-generation console features a power button with the signature Xbox insignia at the top that lights up white when pressed on. There’s metal mesh across the top of the console that gets backlit with an Xbox green glow as well.
In an interview with GameSpot, it was confirmed the Xbox Series X will support discs and is “roughly as wide as an Xbox One controller”. Phil Spencer also told GameSpot that the Xbox Series X was “designed to be as quiet as possible”, sporting a large fan designed to push out “high volumes of air” from the top and keep the console cool.
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Earlier this year, images of the Xbox Series X were reportedly leaked on Twitter. At the time of writing, it’s still unclear if this is a real prototype, or simply an incredibly detailed mockup. Either way, the reported leak offers fans a potential closer look at the front and back of the console.
A lot of fans have taken note of an unknown port located between the HDMI and digital audio port on the back of the “leaked” Xbox Series X image. Microsoft insider blog Thurrott is reporting that the unknown port will be used for expandable storage. At the time of writing, the purpose of the port has not been confirmed by Microsoft.
Xbox Series X Games: What Are the Confirmed and Rumored Titles?
So far, we know of seven titles that will be making its way to the Xbox Series X, along with two unannounced AAA games. Perhaps the biggest title of them all is Halo Infinite, which is the only confirmed Xbox Series X launch title.
Confirmed Xbox Series X Games:
- Halo Infinite
- Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2
- The Lord of the Rings: Gollum
- Watch Dogs Legion
- Rainbow Six Quarantine
- Gods and Monsters
- Battlefield 6
- 2 Unannounced AAA Games
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Reports dating as far back as February 2019 suggested Halo Infinite would be coming to Project Scarlett as a launch title, though these reports claimed Halo Infinite would be released on Xbox One as well. On top of this, a poll from GDC 2019 revealed about 18% of developers were working on next-gen games.
During its E3 2018 press conference, Bethesda suggested its upcoming game Starfield would be coming to the next console generation, and that The Elder Scrolls VI would launch after that. However, in March 2019, Bethesda confirmed it would not be discussing Starfield or The Elder Scrolls VI at E3 2019, but with E3 2020 just around the corner, we might get some news.
Microsoft has been accumulating studios, perhaps in anticipation of the future console generation. Microsoft announced it had acquired five studios (Ninja Theory, Undead Labs, Compulsion Games, Playground Games) and founded a new Santa Monica studio during E3 2018.
Revealed during X018, an additional two studios (Obsidian Entertainment and inXile Entertainment) joined the Xbox family. During Microsoft’s E3 2019 press conference, Double Fine Productions was officially added to that stable.
Make sure to check out our list of confirmed and rumored games for the Xbox Series X.
Xbox Series X Backwards Compatibility and Smart Delivery
Microsoft has confirmed that the Xbox Series X will support backwards compatibility with all Xbox One titles day one. Further, all of the original Xbox and Xbox 360 titles that are available on the Xbox One will also be available at launch. We estimate that there will be around 575 backwards compatible games on the Xbox Series X at launch.
Phil Spencer also said Microsoft aims to support a “Play Anywhere” scheme, wanting to provide the option for gamers to connect across devices and across platforms, suggesting potential cross-generation play.
Additionally, the Xbox Series X will feature “Smart Delivery” which will give players easy access to all digitally purchased games across all devices, meaning it doesn’t have to be purchased twice. This feature will be available for all exclusive Xbox Game Studio titles, including Halo Infinite, as well as any third-party developers that decide to opt in. Cyberpunk 2077 is one game already confirmed for smart delivery.
Just before officially announcing Project Scarlett, Microsoft announced that its game streaming platform Project xCloud is coming in October 2019. Xbox head Phil Spencer also announced Console Streaming, which turns an Xbox One into a personal Xbox server for free. It’s likely this feature and Project xCloud will find its way to the Xbox Series X in the future.
Last year, we went hands-on with Project xCloud and found that so far, it seems like a pretty good service. Be sure to check out our Project xCloud review if you want to hear more about it.
There were some recent rumors about Project xCloud exclusive games, but Microsoft has since clarified its original comments, saying that it has “no plans for cloud-exclusive content at this time.”
Xbox Series X: What Happened to Lockhart and Anaconda?
In December 2018, reports suggested the two devices that make up Project Scarlett are referred to within Microsoft by two codenames: Lockhart and Anaconda. Again, it’s unclear if Project Scarlett still consists of multiple pieces of hardware.
These two separate Xbox SKUs would theoretically have a similar dynamic to Xbox One S and Xbox One X. Lockhart was rumored to be a more affordable, baseline model that made the technology more accessible to a larger group of consumers.
This could potentially be the streaming-centric device hinted at in earlier rumors. The report suggested Lockhart was comparable to, or just a bit more powerful than, the Xbox One X.
Anaconda, on the other hand, would be a decidedly more powerful piece of hardware that would cost more for consumers willing to shell out the money for extra horsepower. It would reportedly provide a “cutting-edge console gaming experience.” It was also suggested the Anaconda could potentially act as a dev kit.
If the rumors are to be believed, the Xbox Series X is likely the console nicknamed Anaconda, while the Lockhart console is yet to be announced by Microsoft. However, it’s currently still unclear if Microsoft will have more than one console at launch.
Xbox Series X Controller vs Xbox One Controller
The Xbox Series X controller looks very similar to that of the Xbox One and was partially inspired by the Elite Series 2 controller. Notable new features with the new Series X controller are a Share button and a hybrid d-pad similar to the Elite Series 2.
In the Xbox Series X announcement post from Microsoft, the company noted that the controllers “size and shape have been refined to accommodate an even wider range of people.”
Further, the new controller will be compatible with the Xbox One and Windows 10 PC’s and will be included with every Xbox Series X purchase.